Sophie Dishman

Review: Sunderland City of Culture Bid Launch Event

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Picture: Jordan Brooks.

Picture: Jordan Brooks.

There has been a lot of fan fare around Sunderland these past few months with the City of Culture bid launch event reaching its fruition at the weekend. This comes after the official launch of Keel Square in the city centre.

The Sunderland City of Culture bid launch event got underway on Friday, September 18, with various known Wearside acts in the creative industry showcasing their talent. Months of planning went into the event and there were high hopes for the launch and it certainly did not disappoint.

BBC’s Jeff Brown kicked off the evening, officially launching the event.

After a short speech about being a “local lad”, it was on to the monsters – Shrek and Dragon. The musical is coming to the Sunderland Empire in November, so it was a chance for them to show their stuff! A rendition of “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees filled the air and got everyone dancing!

Theatre Space North East performed a commissioned piece called “15 Minutes of Fame” highlighting the drama scene within Sunderland and then the University of Sunderland choir, based at the Sage in Gateshead, sang two songs. The beat was melodic and got people clapping along, infusing Keel Square with an amazing atmosphere that definitely lasted well into the evening.

The audience was then treated to SK Dance and Chloe Ann Robson, who are both Gen Factor winners from Sunderland. While the dance troupe provided “sass” and a “thumping bass beat”, Chloe left the audience in awe. The contrast between the performances was electrifying – Chloe’s renditions of Adele’s – “Make You Feel My Love” and Les Miserables’ “I Dreamed a Dream” left Keel Square silent.

Picture: Shrek and Dragon, Sunderland City of Culture launch/Jordan Brooks.

Picture: Shrek and Dragon, Sunderland City of Culture launch/Jordan Brooks.

More music followed with Barry Hyde from the Futureheads performing with another choir made up of different people from Sunderland and the surrounding areas. The song was accompanied by a video, which followed a seagull flying over Sunderland.

The University of Sunderland was featured in the official bid video, with many other influential people from the area, talking about what Sunderland means to them. The atmosphere definitely mellowed at this point but in a good way!

To “spice” things up a bit as the night was setting in, Spice FM delivered what can only be described as a “Indian infused danceathon”. Everyone in the square was dancing and singing along, even myself! We even learnt some Bollywood dance moves!

The infamous Hendon Ninja gave us a sight with his backflips and Bee Enchanted shocked us with their fire eating and hula-hooping – it left me dizzy that’s for sure!

Frankie and the Heartstrings were the final act of the night, the headline act. The Sunderland-own lads delighted the audience with their hedonistic beat. The sound was definitely contagious and I continued to listen to their songs even when the event had finished. Their famous indie-pop tunes certainly rounded up the diversity and the culture that we have in Sunderland!

It was a great evening, providing an unforgettable prelude to the Soundscape event the following day!

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