POP loyalties were split across the generations as two of the region’s biggest concerts of the year took place on the same day.
Around 30,000 music fans, mostly teenagers, soaked up the sun during the all-day North-East Live extravaganza at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland.
Meanwhile, former teen heartthrob turned crooner Robbie Williams, wowed his slightly more mature audience at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena with a show on his Swings Both Ways tour.
Festival-goers began arriving at the Stadium of Light well before the doors opened at noon, with a fairground atmosphere building outside, with rides, food galore and beer tents.
By the time American singer Austin Mahone opened the show to deafening screams not long after 1pm, performing his biggest hits Say Somethin and Say You’re Just a Friend, the atmosphere was building steadily.
Manchester boys Rixton warmed up the crowd with their US top 10 hit Me and My Broken Heart, followed by polished girl band Neon Jungle with their debut singles Braveheart and Tourble.
X Factor foursome Union J appeared fresh from The Capital FM Summertime Ball at Wembley and when Josh Cuthbert announced that he preferred Sunderland to London, the crowd was in such a good mood it didn’t question the claim for a moment, screaming in agreement.
Boyband The Vamps delivered a short set that went down particularly well with younger members of the audience while the arrival of UK girl group The Saturdays, Rizzle Kicks and R ‘n’ B star Jason Derulo on stage signalled the start of the headline acts, with the entire stadium dancing along and nicely primed for the long-awaited arrival of Jessie J, performing at North East Live as part of her 2014 tour. The Price Tag star did not disappoint and with darkness falling, sent the crowd home entirely satisfied.
Meanwhile, a few miles further north Newcastle was swinging as global superstar Robbie Williams swaggered on stage to entertain a sell-out crowd.
The ex-Take That heartthrob returned to the Metro Radio Arena for the first time in 14 years for his new tour, paying homage to some of his musical heroes, with a diverse set-list that sees covers of ratpack classics by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin nestle alongside hits by R Kelly and Alicia Keys and some of his own greatest hits over the past two decades.
An arena spokesman said: “It’s brilliant to see Robbie back on the Stage of the Metro Radio Arena, he is a true showman”.