Since my parents moved to the coast of South Shields back in December we have really been looking forward to the summer months. Their new (very old Victorian) house,located in the Lawe Road area of the town overlooking the North sea, is just 5 minutes walk from Sandhaven beach, Ocean Pleasure Beach fairground and amusements, and the recently renovated North Marine park. The girls think they are on holiday every time we visit and have amassed a bucket of tokens from the slot machines where 10,000 tokens may just get them a lollipop, and they’ve convinced me to ride the hurl-fest that is the waltzer a few times.
June saw the launch of the annual South Tyneside Festival according to their website is a ‘variety of free events for all to enjoy including a spectacular nautical themed summer parade, our hugely popular open-air concerts, family fun days, live music and lots more’ and we just needed a free day (and sunshine!) to come down and make the most of the events. Events during the 3 month period include free childrens entertainment (Tuesdays and Thursday’s 2-4pm through the holidays) and Brass bands (Sunday’s 3.30-5.30pm). Both take place at the open air amphitheatre just along from park.
Bents Park-Sunday 17th July
Last week, saw the launch of their Sunday Bents Park open air shows with Alexandra Burke, Ben Haenow and Reggie and Bollie (was it really only at Christmas they were on? seems like an eternity) and with reports in the trusty Shields Gazette Facebook page saying the park closed due to reaching full capacity we knew we needed to get down early if we were going to get a good spot for today’s show – Lindisfarne and The Proclaimers. The gates opened at 1pm, so we headed down around 11.30 to join the queue – camping chairs, blankets and picnic all laden down like a pack horse.
Joining the Queue
We headed out of North Marine park to the corner of Bents park where the top gates are and saw that there was two queues – one we could see the end of (for the bottom gates) which snakes around the park railings and the other that i can only assume ended up in Marsden it was so long. Queue chosen, we waited for around 30 minutes till they were open and made our way in to the bottom gates. There were a few sneaky people who tried to push in but the self policing of hundred of people shouting ‘join the back of the queue’ soon sorted that out! Once we were in, we found a spot to the right of the stage conveniently near the Minchella ice-cream stand. Chairs and blankets put out we settled in for the afternoon-cracking open my Dad’s birthday bubbly.
As the bands were waiting to come on the screen urged you to tweet #stynesideevents. Alan took a photo of Abigail chilling in her chair and she was impressed when it was put up on the big screen. The atmosphere was fantastic in the park. Lots of children, merry people enjoying the sunshine and a really good vibe-South Tyneside at its best! There was little in the way of security and no checking of bags so people brought their own food and drink in and some even had the little pop up tents. Anna Foster (from Radio Newcastle) was the compere and she made the joke that the events are getting posher with people bringing their own chairs, olives and prosecco!
Just before the first act came on Beth Macari I headed over with Abigail to the dreaded port-a-loos. I’ll be getting to use my fair share of these bad boys with Kendal Calling and the Just So festival looming closer. Phew no need to worry!! there was lots of them, with toilet paper, running water and soap so not bad at all. Abigail thought they were hilarious when the blue water flushed!
First up was Newcastle native Beth Macari, playing her own material in the form of singles Heartstrings and Voodoo, the former having make it to number 18 on the itunes singles chart. A few covers including ‘Time of my Life’ from Dirty Dancing also showed off her soulful voice. Since we have come back we have learnt she’s a friend of our niece Louise! Small world.
After, a little break Lindisfarne were back on, original singer Alan Hull sadly died back in 1995, but Rod Clements one of the original members was there to sing the well known tunes! They launched into a set where i knew a few tracks notably Meet me on the Corner (the theme tune from BBC’s Boy meets Girl) and Fog on the Tyne (who can forget Gazza in his shellsuit?), and Run for Home (an unofficial Geordie anthem). The first long play record my dad bought was Fog on the Tyne and they saw them back in the 1970’s at the city hall. At this point it started raining and we hid under our blankets with hoods up – nowt like the British summer. Some enterprising types switched from selling flower garlands to poncho’s for £3 – genius!
The final act of the day were The Proclaimers and the crowd, including me, were definitely well lubricated (hic!) at this point. I’d watched Sunshine on Leith over the Christmas holidays, (incidentally on the day the gas men smashed up my kitchen looking for a leak!) a musical homage to the Proclaimers and was surprised just how many hits they had and impressed by the Mama Mia style launching into singing and dancing with good humour. It really showed Edinburgh in a great light too and provided a great backdrop. Songs in their repertoire included Let’s Get Married, Letter from America and not forgetting the soundtrack to my favourite movie as a kid Benny and Joon, 500 miles! the crowd were lapping it up. The twins weren’t the most chatty to the audience but thanked the crowds and the sunshine for coming out!
24th July sees Tony Hadley and 31st July sees UB40 take the stage.
Grab your camping chair, get down early and have a great time at this free event.