As Sunderland's bid to be crowned City of Culture 2021 gains pace, we take a look at a festival that is fast becoming a summer-must for every music lover in the North-East, and why it will play a significant role in helping the city achieve that title.
Sunniside LIVE is the award-winning live music festival held in Sunderland’s Sunniside Quarter, returning for a third year on July 8/9. It’s the brainchild of Helen Davies and Sean Maddison, who own two drinking establishments in Sunniside; Bar Justice and Gin & Bear It. The couple wanted to increase footfall in the area, which has become popular in recent years. Regeneration has resulted in a plethora of bars and restaurants, and the duo wanted to capitalise on this. The first festival was held in 2015 and went on to win the ‘Crowd Pleaser Award’ for the city’s favourite event, in Sun FM’s Style Awards. In July 2016, Sunniside LIVE played host to Smoove & Turrell, Shola Ama and The Brand New Heavies. Organiser Helen is confident of improvements made to this year’s set-up, saying: “We’ve made some changes to ensure the experience over the course of the weekend will be even better than in previous years.” Aside from the event’s own bar/food stalls, up to 4000 festival-goers will visit other businesses in the area.
On Friday, the party kicks off with DJ Allister Whitehead and K Klass. Allister, one of the UK’s most prolific house DJs, had his big break covering a spot at the famous Hacienda, standing in for M People’s Mike Pickering. This leads us to the next star on the bill – Heather Small. The renowned voice of 90s dance-pop group M People said: “I’m really excited about performing at Sunniside LIVE and delighted to be making a special stop in Sunderland as part of my 25th Anniversary Tour.”
The evening will be seen out by acid-jazz stars Incognito. In the 90s, Incognito were at the forefront of UK’s growing jazz scene and the 16-piece band are guaranteed to wow the crowds with their funky, soulful sound. Saturday begins with the winners of Sunniside LIVE’s Battle Of The Bands competition. Ten acts are vying for the honour, chosen by a public vote on Sunniside LIVE’s website (voting closes June 2).
They will be followed by Lord Swans, Social Room (Battle of the Bands winner 2015), Chris Helme (The Seahorses), and The Farm, who are sure to delight fans with their rousing anthem ‘All Together Now’.
The biggest draw of the weekend promises to be a stellar performance by the iconic Happy Mondays, fronted by Shaun Ryder. As the defining band of Manchester’s music scene in the 80s/90s, the group’s greatest hits will be a treat for music fans of all ages.
Gemma Dishman, Marketing/Communications Manager at Sunderland BID, said: “Sunniside LIVE continues to increase in strength and numbers. The decision to expand the event over two days proves that Sunderland is a prime location for outdoor music events.” Confirming that Sunniside LIVE is a welcomed fixture to the city’s cultural calendar, she added: “We are confident that this year will have a record attendance and we look forward to seeing how the event will grow in the future.”
Tickets – £17.50 (Friday), £22.50 (Saturday) or £35 (weekend) from www.sunnisidelive.co.uk