WIN: tickets to see former boyband member as he launches comeback in Sunderland

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A Brit Award-winning boyband member will be launching his comeback solo career in Sunderland.

As one quarter of A1, Paul Marazzi travelled the world in the late ‘90s and early 2000s with hits including Take on Me, Caught in the Middle and Summertime of Our Lives.

Since leaving the band in 2002, Paul has kept in with music, performing as a musician in bands, but now he’s coming back under his own name with a gig at Rainton Meadows Arena, Houghton.

He’ll be supporting The Overtones on September 19, after he signed a management deal with Sunderland-based iStage Group.

Paul already has strong links with Wearside: his sister married a Mackem and he himself lived in the city for six years at homes in Pennywell, Southwick and Houghton, as well as a flat above The Bunker studios in Stockton Road, where he used to rehearse.

“I had a great time living in Sunderland,” said Paul, who now lives in Bellingham, Northumberland, with his girlfriend who is expecting their first child.

A1, Take On Me

A1, Take On Me

The singer and guitarist added: “I’ve always played in bands and played in a Sunderland band for a while called Snagsby, but this is the first time I will have performed as Paul Marazzi, it was weird seeing my name on the poster. I’m really looking forward to it, especially as Rainton Meadows is round the corner from where I used to live.”

Paul still gets recognised from his boyband days, but he says people often don’t believe it’s him.

“They’ll say ‘you can’t be him’, what on earth are you doing in Bellingham,” he said.

Paul’s former bandmates, Ben, Mark and Christian, recently appeared in ITV2’s Big Reunion, which saw many bands from that period brought back together.

We performed on shows we grew up with, like Top of the Pops, they were the most special moments.

Paul Marazzi

“I was asked to take part,” said Paul, who also performs in band Hip Operation. “But at the time it wasn’t right for me. I don’t watch a lot of television and wasn’t aware of the show. It was a time when I was doing oil rig training. It was before I’d joined Hip Operation and I wasn’t really doing music.”

Paul says he has fond memories of his time in the band who scored two number ones and eight top 10 hits, as well as winning the Brit Award for British Breakthrough Act in 2001.

“It was really, really busy, we went from nothing to travelling the world,” he said. “We performed on shows we grew up with, like Top of the Pops, they were the most special moments.”

Paul says fans can expect a trip down memory lane when he performs with his own band.

Paul at Inspire Stage School

Paul at Inspire Stage School

He said: “You have to embrace your past, love it or hate it. A lot of acts are driven by nostalgia. Artists want to do new stuff and that’s really respectable, but you have to give people what they want too.”

Ahead of the gig he’s appeared at the Inspire Stage School, based at Castleview Enterprise Academy. As well as appearing on Saturday, he will host a second workshop this Saturday.

He said: “It’s great to meet the kids and to give them an idea of what to expect from the industry.”

•To win a pair of tickets to The Overtones at Rainton Meadows Arena, supported by Paul Marazzi, on September 19, answer this question: of which boyband was Paul a member?

Email your answer and contact details to Closing date: September 14.