Sights and sounds of the Tunstall Hills Sessions

The Futureheads' Barry Hyde performing at Penshaw Monument
The Futureheads' Barry Hyde performing at Penshaw Monument
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SPOTTED: some of Sunderland’s top artists performing in the unlikeliest of venues.

From Penshaw Monument to a back garden and even a bathroom, the Tunstall Hills Sessions feature performances from acts such as The Futureheads, Duncan Lloyd from Maximo Park, Coal Train and The Lake Poets.

An exhibition of the audio visual project will take place at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Monkwearmouth Museum and The Place, Sunniside, as part of the city’s ongoing Sunderland Live Fringe Festival.

The sessions are captured on HD format and were dreamt up by friends John Beattie, 24, Richard Amundsen, 26, and Michael Gardiner (pictured), 28.

Richard said: “After I showed Michael a rough recording of my band Coal Train he suggested ways to develop the idea into an ongoing set of sessions. Between us we began spending time ensuring the look and the sound were of high quality from the outset.

“The sessions are a chance to capture bands and artists in unusual settings and to display them in video format for people to enjoy, and really just to help promote upcoming bands and artists.

“We want to help promote bands and artists through live audio/visual recordings across a variety of locations. We want to use the sessions as a vehicle for networking with different music scenes and not just in the North East but further afield.”

An official launch of the project will take place at Independent, Holmeside, on June 12.

Michael said: “As a lot of people have already seen most of the sessions. I needed to come up with a way to make the launch appeal to everyone. I decided to create new work with the intention of splicing it between the sessions on the show reel.

“The new work that will be exhibited at the launch are mainly my own personal projects, ranging from audio visual experimentations, to adverts for local bands.”

Sunderland Live Fringe Festival, which takes place until June 17, is a three-week bonanza of live music and street entertainment showcasing local music talent around the Take That and Kings of Leon gigs at the Stadium of Light.

Coun John Kelly, Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for safer city and culture, said: “The Sunderland Live Fringe Festival includes a fantastic mix of live music, street performers, and interactive music sessions like the Tunstall Hill Sessions.

“Along with the Ian West photography exhibition in the Bridges Shopping Centre, they offer something a little bit different for people to enjoy and I’m sure they’ll be a big hit.”

* To attend the launch of the Tunstall Hills Sessions, email

* For full information on the Sunderland Live Fringe Festival, visit: