ESSEX pop icon Sam Ryder wowed fans as he performed a special event at an intimate venue in Southend.

The singer, who took Eurovision by storm, played for a sold-out seafront crowd in Chinnerys, Marine Parade.

Sam’s breakthrough came after he represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest last year with the song “Space Man”, becoming the highest-scoring UK entrant ever, and finishing first in the jury vote and second overall.

Echo: Crowd - the venue was sold-out for the eventCrowd - the venue was sold-out for the event (Image: Film Free Photography)

He took to the Southend stage thanks to a partnership with the Music Venue Trust and the National Lottery’s United By Music tour.

Chinnerys has been a long-standing music venue but was hit hard by rising bills and falling customer during the Covid pandemic - leaving it with equipment held together by gaffer tape.

Echo: Smiles - Sam loved playing at the venueSmiles - Sam loved playing at the venue (Image: Film Free Photography)

Earlier this year bosses at the venue celebrated after being handed a £4,923.74 cash injection from the Music Venue Trust as part of the charity’s “pipeline investment fund”. 

Sam, who used to play in the venue as a youngster with his friends, made his return on Friday.

Tickets sold out quickly, with only a small and lucky crowd enjoying the event.

Echo: Singer - Sam performed some of his best and most popular hitsSinger - Sam performed some of his best and most popular hits (Image: Film Free Photography)

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain previously, Sam described Chinnerys as a “super important grassroots venue”, which “needs protecting”.

“I played at the Chinnerys a bunch of times and it used to be a real big deal in the scene where I came up with music”, he said.

Echo: Waves - hands up for Sam RyderWaves - hands up for Sam Ryder (Image: Film Free Photography)

Clarissa Debenham, who was at the seafront venue for Friday evening’s show, said: “It was a great evening.

“The gig was put on by the Music Venue Trust who work to support grassroots venues, it obviously worked as the place was rammed.

“Some people had never been to Chinnerys before and loved seeing Sam in such an intimate setting.

Echo: Love - Sam was welcomed back to the venue with open arms and plenty of supportLove - Sam was welcomed back to the venue with open arms and plenty of support (Image: Film Free Photography)

“The venue staff always work hard to ensure everyone has a great time.

“Sam sung all his recent hits and got the audience involved singing along in his Freddie Mercury-esque style.

“I got the chance to meet him briefly after the gig and he was lovely, fist-bumping everyone and stopping for selfies.

“It was great to see such a happy crowd.”

(All pictures: Film Free Photography -