Sunderland support acts check out Empire stage ahead of Dave Stewart gig

Dave Stewart's Sunderland Empire Theatre performance support acts Picnic's leader vocals Robyn Walker and Social Room's lead vocal Matty Smith (R)
Dave Stewart's Sunderland Empire Theatre performance support acts Picnic's leader vocals Robyn Walker and Social Room's lead vocal Matty Smith (R)
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Emerging Sunderland bands are looking forward to their moment in the spotlight after being hand-picked by Dave Stewart to support him at the Sunderland Empire.

The rock star musician, song-writer and producer will play his home town stage for the first time on September 10 to mark his 65th birthday.

Rising to fame as one half of the Eurythmics, Dave from Barnes has gone on to sell 100 million albums and written songs for the likes of Katy Perry, Mick Jagger, Gwen Stefani and more.

Always keen to keep in touch with what’s going on in his home city, he has chosen three local bands, Picnic, Social Room and Lilliput, to warm up the Empire crowds after listening to their music online.

Matty Smith from six-piece Social Room, whose band members are from Seaham and Sunderland, said: “We were over the moon when we got the phone call about playing, you couldn’t write it, supporting someone of his calibre. He’s the city’s biggest musical export, he’s massive. It’s going to be amazing to play the Empire stage too.

“It’s great that he’s asked three local bands to support him, he doesn’t have to do that.”

Social Room have built up a loyal local following and have released a number of singles. They recently played the Sunniside Live festival in Sunderland and are planning a new release next month.

Matty said: “We had an amazing response when we played Sunniside Live recently, we feel like that was a turning point for us.”

Picnic have also had festival success after appearing at last month’s Summer Streets festival in Southwick.

The seven-piece formed after meeting at Sunderland College and Sunderland University.

Dave Stewart's Sunderland Empire Theatre performance support acts Picnic's leader vocals Robyn Walker and Social Room's lead vocal Matty Smith (R) with promoter Rough Diamond's Harry Collinson (middle)

Dave Stewart's Sunderland Empire Theatre performance support acts Picnic's leader vocals Robyn Walker and Social Room's lead vocal Matty Smith (R) with promoter Rough Diamond's Harry Collinson (middle)

Guitarist Eddie Scott said: “It’s an amazing thing for him to do, he could have easily got bigger names to support him.”

Singer Robyn Walker said: “It shows he’s really passionate about Sunderland’s music scene, which we are too, so we feel like we have something in common with him already. When I told my mam, she couldn’t believe it. The Empire is the kind of venue we never dreamed of being able to play.”

Dave had planned to play the Empire in 2012 on his Ringmaster tour, but had to cancel the date following the death of his close friend, director Tony Scott, who he’d just returned from holiday with before his tragic death.

The prolific song-writer will bring a flavour of Nashville to Sunderland with a host of American musicians performing on stage with him - steel guitar player Dan Dugmore, bass player Michael Rhodes, guitarist Tom Bukovac and drummer Chad Cromwell - who’ve played with the likes of Joss Stone, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young, Stevie Nicks and more.

Dave Stewart's Sunderland Empire Theatre performance support act Social Room's lead vocal Matty Smith (front)

Dave Stewart's Sunderland Empire Theatre performance support act Social Room's lead vocal Matty Smith (front)

•Tickets for Dave Stewart at Sunderland Empire on September 10 are on sale now in person at the Box office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022 or online at www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland*

Dave Stewart's Sunderland Empire Theatre performance support act Picnic, front leader vocals Robyn Walker

Dave Stewart's Sunderland Empire Theatre performance support act Picnic, front leader vocals Robyn Walker