The region’s newest cultural venue The Fire Station opened with a bang last week, hosting emotional and powerful performances from two north east music icons!


“What Sunderland Has Needed For So Long”


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On Friday 10 December the first performers to take to the stage at Sunderland’s Fire Station Auditorium were Wearside-born Marty Longstaff, aka The Lake Poets, and legendary Northumbrian musician and composer Kathryn Tickell and her band The Darkening!

Before he started his set, and to rapturous applause, Marty told of his pride of being the first musician to play at the £11m venue. He thanked Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust and Sunderland Culture for delivering ‘an amazing, unbelievable’ venue for the city.

Marty said: “Yesterday I had a note from MAC Trust Chair Paul Callaghan, who has been the driving force behind The Fire Station development, he said the venue wasn’t for me, it was for my baby son’s generation and the generations after him,”

“What Paul, the MAC Trust and Sunderland Culture have given us is a perfect venue and what Sunderland has needed for so long. As a Sunderland lad it is a huge honour for me to be the first performer on stage at The Fire Station. It’s a real privilege.” he added.


An Uplifting Night


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A packed audience was welcomed to the auditorium by Tamsin Austin, Director of The Fire Station, who said how excited she was about the new venue and its opening programme.

The first half of the opening show featured singer songwriter Marty playing solo or performing with his talented violinist. The second half featured the music of Kathryn and her band – until they were joined by Marty for two stunning performances of his iconic songs City by the Sea and Shipyards, the theme tune for Netflix documentary Sunderland Til I Die. 

Both songs pack an emotional punch, but performed in the stunning new venue by two brilliant artists proved overwhelming for some in the audience. The Fire Station’s first gig was brought to a close by two wonderfully uplifting songs from Kathryn and her band. A standing ovation confirmed that the venue was well and truly open!

For more information about an array of amazing upcoming events and to buy tickets head to or follow @FireStationSun.

When will you be visiting The Fire Station? Get in touch online. Twitter: @SunderlandVibe, Instagram: @SunderlandVibe, Facebook: @SunderlandVibe.

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