Bents Park buzzing as Pop Idol winner Will Young headlines return of legendary concerts in South Shields
Thousands poured into Bents Park as the first big-stage open-air concert since the pandemic took place at South Shields seafront.
Pop Idol winner Will Young wowed music fans as he took to the stage at the concert; the first to take place since July 2019.
The legendary open-air Sunday concerts attract huge crowds and are a highlight of South Tyneside’s summer festival.
And after being postponed in 2020 and then again in 2021 due to the Covid pandemic, they are back with a bang
But this weekend saw the return of the concerts proper, with crowds packing into the seafront park to enjoy an afternoon of live music in the blazing summer sunshine.
North East singer Beth Macari was first up on stage to warm up the crowds, before Will Young got fans roaring with a selection of hits including Leave Right Now and Evergreen.
Speaking to the Gazette before his set, he said: “I’m thrilled to be here, really looking forward to performing.
"The weather is beautiful and it’s always great up here!”
And while onstage, he voiced his approval at the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson from the top job this week, adding: “I’m glad he’s gone.
"We’re celebrating that today, as well as these lovely trousers I've got on.”
Carrying a tune down at the front of the stage were Will Young superfans Gayle Smith, Sheila Gregson, Beverley Rannigan, June Spencer and Deb Robinson.
The women have been huge fans of the singer since his Pop Idol victory 20 years ago.
Speaking after the performance, Gayle said: “It was absolutely fantastic! We’ve followed him since Pop Idol, we’ve never missed a concert
"I’ve got a meet and greet with him in October, we absolutely love him!”
Tanya Omann, Lynn Crawford, Jane Murphy, Carrie Waugh and Mark Waugh were also among those in the crowd.
“I’ve been buzzing all week for this, I couldn’t wait. We come every year so it’s nice to see everyone again after the pandemic,” Tanya said.
Jane added: “In previous years we’ve travelled from Barnard Castle after a wedding to come. We love it!”
Meanwhile, there were festivities of a different kind for punter George Young who, along with family and friends, was celebrating his 79th birthday at the Bents Park gig.
Family friend Alan Smith added: “We come every year and it’s nice all getting back together.
"We don’t really come for the music, just to get altogether and have a good time. And we’re celebrating George’s birthday today!”
Event organisers confirmed on Sunday that 4,000 priority tickets were sold for the concert, with an estimated 20,000 expected through the gates throughout the day.
South Tyneside Council chiefs say the summer festival events generate millions for the borough’s economy.
The Bents Park concerts will continue each Sunday this month. Next up is Ella Henderson and The South on July 17.
A special Dance Revival day will feature Whigfield, Sonique, D:Ream, Phats & Small and Kelly Llorenna on July 24, then Shalamar and The Fizz on July 31.