When the going gets tough, the crowds head to South Tyneside.
Record-breaking numbers turned out to Bents Park in South Shields yesterday to see soul legend Billy Ocean perform, along with 1970s diva Gwen Dickey and Jarrow’s very own Abi Garrido.
It’s estimated that up to 24,000 fans turned out to see the acts – the second event in South Tyneside Festival’s free music events – and the gates to the park had to be closed half-way through.
Billy Ocean took to the stage dressed in a bright white suit and whipped fans into a frenzy with hits including Love Really Hurts and Red Light Spells Danger.
He told the crowds: “Greetings. In the divine name of lord and saviour Jesus Christ, thank you for inviting us to your party this evening.”
Gwen, who was part of the band Rose Royce, also couldn’t wait to entertain the crowds.
She told the Gazette ahead of her performance how she couldn’t believe her song were still so popular.
Gwen said: “Who would have though songs I recorded in late ’70s and ’80s that people still want to hear them and still embrace them?
“I think Wishing On A Star is probably my all-time favourite and Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, because that was the last song I recorded as lead singer with the band before I went out on my own.”
Abi, 17, who recently signed a record contract with Dubai and UK-based artist management company RU:Listening, couldn’t believe she was sharing the stage with two musical icons.
She said: “This is my third time singing as part of the festival, but this has been the best year yet.
“It was amazing but quite nerve-wracking knowing I was going to open for Billy Ocean.”