Newcastle-band Dubstar reform for fundraising gig

A BAND whose global career began at a club on Tyneside are to re-form for one night to help remember the legendary venue.

Indie band Dubstar are to re-form for one night
Indie band Dubstar are to re-form for one night

A BAND whose global career began at a club on Tyneside are to re-form for one night to help remember the legendary venue.

Indie band Dubstar are to play their first performance in more than a decade to raise funds for a documentary about the Riverside, the Newcastle club that developed a legendary reputation on the music scene in the 80s and 90s.

Dubstar – singer Sarah Blackwood, Steve Hillier on keyboards and guitarist Chris Wilkie – will be one of several bands playing at The Cluny tomorrow at a gig to raise funds for a documentary about the venue.

Mr Hillier said: “Riverside was Newcastle’s Hacienda and it has an important story to tell.

“It’s particularly close to Dubstar’s heart, not just for the memories of the gigs we saw and performed there, but because it’s where the band met. We’re honoured to support this important tribute to Newcastle’s music scene.”

Formed in Newcastle in 1992, the band went on to have three albums and nine top 40 singles including international success with their smash hit Stars.

But they split in 2000 to explore new careers and, in Chris’s case, work with other musicians and settle down.

All have kept in close contact over the years, however, and have often talked about working together again.

Their connections with the Riverside offered the opportunity to reunite – when Chris helped writers researching the nostalgic book Riverside: Newcastle’s Legendary Alternative Music Venue.

Having being given the chance to play together again, Chris has revealed they also plan to release new material soon.

“It has been a long time since we played publicly,” said Chris, 39.

“In actual fact it would have been a lot longer. When you haven’t done anything for a long time it makes it easier for you to put things off, but this Riverside gig has given us a reason to get on with it.

“What we want to do now is put out an EP in October and another one around Christmas – we would have been faffing around forever if it wasn’t for this gig!

“I helped out quite a bit with the Riverside book and now they want to make a documentary about it.

“When they asked if we were up for this gig we said yes because it’s a film we really want to see.

“My memory of the place was that it felt like a youth club and you could see all these bands before they became big like Teenage Fanclub and The Cranberries.

“It seemed like a small step up from playing pubs but it was actually a big thing. Next came places like City Hall.

“When we got signed it seemed like just another show, but then this guy came up to us afterwards, said he’d like to have a shot at taking us to London to some people he knew.”

Chris admits to being a little nervous about taking to the stage once more.

After splitting, Newcastle University graduate Sarah, now 41, moved to London, where she still lives and continues to perform with bands and musicians including Pete Doherty, William Orbit, Gary Numan and Carl Barat.

Steve, 43, lives in Brighton where he lectures in songwriting.

And Chris has been a full-time dad in Tynemouth, in between acting as session guitarist with several acts, including Take That’s Mark Owen when he lived in the Lake District.

“None of us has been idle, but we haven’t played in public together for 14 years, so I have to admit I’m nervous,” said Chris.

“It’s been just long enough to seem like a different lifetime. It feels like we’re starting out again.”

About Riverside – The True Story of a Truly Independent Music Venue is being made by director Carol Lynn and writer/producer Hazel Plater.

The Riverside Film Fundraiser takes place at the Cluny tomorrow. Tickets cost £5 and doors open at 8pm.

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