10cc’s Graham Gouldman to play Leeds and release solo album

Graham Gouldman: new tour, new album in 2020

GRAHAM Gouldman will play Leeds City Varieties Music Hall on March 25 on next spring’s tour to launch his first solo album in eight years.

The 10cc luminary’s 14-date travels with his semi-acoustic band, Heart Full Of Songs, will run from March 19 to April 4, coinciding with the March 20 release of his as-yet-unnamed record on the British independent label Lojinx.

One notable guest on Gouldman’s first solo set since 2012’s Love And Work is The Beatles’ Ringo Starr, who plays drums on Standing Next To Me.

Last year, Gouldman, 73, was invited by Starr to join his All Starr Band for tours of Europe and the United States that featured three 10cc songs.

“Playing with Ringo Starr and The All Starr Band was absolutely brilliant, and having Ringo play drums on one of my new album’s songs was the icing on the cake,” says Gouldman.

“Absolutely brilliant”: Graham Gouldman’s verdict on playing with Ringo Starr in the Beatle’s All Starr Band last year

“The song is about how I came to be asked to join his band, and about my experience of being on the road with Ringo alongside Steve Lukather, Colin Hay, Gregg Rolie, Warren Ham and Gregg Bissonette, who also plays drums on three of the album’s tracks.”

When Gouldman formed what became Heart Full Of Songs, it was for the pleasure of playing his songs in their simplest form, leading to the acoustic four-piece’s first tour in April and May 2013.

Gouldman’s band now tours Britain, Belgium, Holland and Germany with a line-up of Gouldman, Ciaran Jeremiah, Dave Cobby and either Iain Hornal, Nick Kendal or Andy Park, depending on their commitments.

The Heart Full Of Songs set list will feature such golden Gouldman hits as 10cc’s I’m Not In Love, Dreadlock Holiday and The Things We Do For Love, The Hollies’ Bus Stop, The Yardbirds’ For Your Love and Wax’s Bridge To Your Heart, complemented by new material.

“I always love taking my Heart Full Of Songs show on tour,” says Gouldman. “Acoustic performances always create a very intimate atmosphere where every song – which is what it’s all about – can truly be heard. It also gives me a chance to explain how the songs came about and something of the writing process. We’ll see you there.”

Tickets for his Leeds concert, Gouldman’s only Yorkshire date, are on sale on 0113 243 0808 or at cityvarieties.co.uk.

Did you know?

In 2014, Graham Gouldman was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, an arm of the USA’s National Academy of Music. Previous inductees include Noel Coward, Irving Berlin, Burt Bacharach, Neil Sedaka, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Leonard Cohen.

REVIEW: Scrooge The Musical, Pick Me Up Theatre ***

Mark Hird’s Ebenezer Scrooge and Frankie Bounds’ Young Ebenezer in Pick Me Up Theatre’s Scrooge The Musical. Picture: Matthew Kitchen

Scrooge The Musical, Pick Me Up Theatre, Grand Opera House, York, until Sunday, December 1. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york

FOR years and years, Pick Me Up Theatre artistic director Robert Readman has applied for the performing rights for Scrooge The Musical, more in hope than expectation.

This year, at last, the answer was affirmative, and so Readman reckons he must be the first director/producer to stage Leslie Bricusse’s musical on this scale since Bill Kenwright’s long-running tour show.

Those were the days with Tommy Steele in the lead, with songs specially added for his knees-up brand of showmanship, but Readman has restored the 1992 score, when Bricusse transferred his 1970 film musical to the stage as a vehicle for Anthony Newley, six new songs and all. Back come the likes of Good Times, the best in the show, says Readman.

Mark Hird’s Ebenezer Scrooge and Rory Mulvihill’s Ghost of Christmas Present in Scrooge The Musical

Ironically, if anything, there are too many songs, or, more precisely, there are not many memorable songs, making it feel like too many.

This is in part because the dialogue is largely true to Charles Dickens’s novel, save for the occasional modernism, and you wish for rather more of it, but another song is always nudging it out of the way.

While you could not call it a “sung-through musical”, it is veering towards that style, yet the great joy of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol lies in its storytelling and the myriad ways of presenting it, whether James Swanton’s one-man show, Alexander Wright’s pub supper two-hander with audience participation or Deborah McAndrew’s  beautifully resonant adaptation for Hull Truck Theatre.

Readman goes for spectacle, garland upon garland of snowy white flowers decorating the stage; a huge door; a big four-poster bed; loud, very loud, sound effects for Jacob Marley’s entry, rattling chains et al;  echoing voices; a company of more than 40;  and two flying sequences. One for Tony Froud’s Marley; the other for Rory Mulvihill’s Ghost of Christmas Present and Mark Hird’s Ebenezer Scrooge, where they are held in suspense rather more than this ghost story holds us, in the absence of more darkness.

Sonny Love as Tiny Tim in Scrooge The Musical

Hird’s diminutive Scrooge carries the last residue of his wonderful Captain Mainwaring in Pick Me Up’s Dad’s Army, and consequently he is humorous from the start, full of bluster rather than the coldness of a blasted heath. You find yourself liking him, even when he is mithering and being miserly, rather like Rowan Atkinson’s penny-pinching Mr Bean, but Scrooge’s transformation is still highly enjoyable in his impish hands.

What’s more, his scenes with Young Ebenezer (Frankie Bounds) and his lost true love, Isabel (Jennie Wogan), and later with Bob Cratchit (Alan Park), Tiny Tim (Sonny Love) and the Cratchit family, are poignant to the core. Bounds, by the way, is the pick of the young talents, with a lovely singing voice in Happiness, while Olivia Caley, as the Ghost of Christmas Past, definitely has a future.

Look out too for Flo Poskitt’s comic cameo as Ethel Cratchit: not for the first time this year, she gives a peach of a supporting performance. Maybe next year, a director will reward her with an overdue lead.

Mulvihill amuses by lounging like Jacob Rees-Mogg in the House of Commons, in his Christmas green silks and ermine; Sam Johnson leads his musical forces with customary skill, and Iain Harvey and Readman’s choreography has most fun when Andrew Isherwood’s Tom Jenkins leads the stand-out  Thank You Very Much.

Overall, however, while it may feel “Bah Humbug” to say it, by Pick Me Up standards, this Scrooge  falls short of a Christmas cracker.

Charles Hutchinson  

York Early Music Christmas Festival will start…earlier!

Fieri Consort: taking a trip to Christmas Eve in 1629 Rome in York
THE 2019 York Early Music Christmas Festival is starting earlier, two hours earlier, to be precise, after Solomon’s Knot’s sold-out opening concert on December 7 was moved to 4.30pm.

Performing without a conductor and from memory at the National Centre for Early Music, the 14-piece baroque group will present Festive Music from 17th century France, as they make their much anticipated Christmas festival debut with a brace of Charpentier works, A Song On The Birth Of Our Lord and Pastoral On The Birth Of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

“We’re a group of singers and players who are prepared to take risks in order to communicate more directly with our audiences,” they say.

To make sure they arrive in York well in time for their 12.30pm Sunday concert, the recorder group Palisander will be travelling by car, rather than risking public transport!

Lydia Gosnell, Miriam Monaghan, Caoimhe de Paor and Elspeth Robertson will perform A Yuletyde Eve on recorders of all shapes and sizes, as they return to the NCEM, in St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, after playing there in March.

Expect an afternoon hour of “very entertaining” Renaissance music, including works by Praetorius and Tye, as well as some more familiar carols.

Owain Park, a former winner of the NCEM Young Composers Award, will direct his ensemble, The Gesualso Six, in Videte Miraculum at 6.30pm on December 8.

Inspired by Advent being a time of mystery, reflection and wonder, this two-hour journey through the ages and across borders will weave Christmas carols, such as Praetorius’s Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen, seamlessly with 21st century works, including Park’s luscious On The Infancy Of Our Saviour.

On December 9, wind ensemble Boxwood & Brass re-create A Georgian Country House Christmas at 7.30pm. Their “Band of Musick” play as a traditional Georgian militia ensemble of clarinets, horns and bassoon, regaling their audience with quintets, marches, dance music and regional carols.

Very sadly, Joglaresa’s Sing We Yule concert on December 10 at 7.30pm will be their last visit to the NCEM.  “Their leader, Belinda Sykes, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer,” says NCEM artistic director Delma Tomlin. “I shall deeply miss Belinda and her wonderful consort; she has been such a fantastic leading light of the Early Music world, and Joglaresa’s concerts here have been a joy.”

Belinda, singer and recorder and bagpipe player, will lead Joglaresa in an effervescent programme of traditional carols and wassails, lullabies and dance tunes, from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales as they “chase out the chill from the Celtic fringes of Europe”.

On Wednesday, December 11 at 6.30pm, Fieri Consort will take a trip to Rome on Christmas Eve in 1629, where a performance of Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger’s oratorio The Shepherds Of Bethlehem is taking place in the lavishly decorated Vatican palace.

Featuring a libretto by the future Pope Clement IX, this Christmas play tells the story of the Nativity through solos, duets, trios and full choruses, interspersed with instrumental and vocal pieces by Kapsperger and his contemporaries.

A second concert is on the move, this one on account of the NCEM being a polling station for the General Election on December 12. Ceruleo will now perform Burying The Dead at St Lawrence’s Church, Hull Road, instead.

Written by Clare Norburn and directed by Thomas Guthrie, with lighting by Pitch Black and costumes by Hannah Pearson, this new theatre show for the 21st century will take the 7.30pm audience on a fictional journey into the head of composer Henry Purcell, played by actor Niall Ashdown.

Purcell is in the throes of his final illness, suffering from feverish hallucinations, wherein the past, present and fantasy collide and his songs take on a life of their own.

Fretwork’s December 13 concert with mezzo-soprano Helen Charlston, winner of the 2018 Handel Singing Competition, has sold out. Their 6.30pm programme, From Virgin’s Womb, will interweave William Byrd’s In Nomines with seasonal Elizabethan music by Holborne, Peerson, Weelkes and Gibbons, the songs being accompanied by viols. Jollity meets piousness, rejoicing and reflection meet drunkenness and misbehaviour, in Fretwork’s company.

The Mellstock Band’s Philip Humphries has an interesting programme credit: not only voice, but also serpent. “Yes, this Dorset band bring real serpents,” says Delma, ahead of snakes arriving on December 14 at 1pm.

Humphries and co’s Christmas Frolics in period costumes will be an uproarious celebration of dance, drink and general misbehaviour, as carried on in many villages until a century ago, along with sobering admonitions from the puritans, parsons, preachers and angels.

Carols dedicated to dancing, bell ringing and cider will vie for attention with “the Devil’s own tunes”, complemented by the Wessex stories of Thomas Hardy and William Barnes.

The York musicians of the Yorkshire Bach Choir, under the direction of Peter Seymour, will close the festival with a 7pm performance of Handel’s Messiah at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, on December 14.Helen Charlston will be among the soloists, alongside soprano Bethany Seymour, tenor Gwilym Bowen and bass Gareth Brynmor John.

“We will echo Handel’s London performances, including some rarely heard versions,” says Peter.

All concerts will take place at the NCEM unless otherwise stated. Tickets are on sale on 01904 658338 or at tickets.ncem.co.uk.

Charles Hutchinson

Copyright of The Press, York
Fretwork: sold-out concert

Here comes Cleveland Watkiss’s night of Jamaican sunshine at NCEM

Jamaican joy: London jazz singer Cleveland Watkiss celebrates his Caribbean roots at the NCEM, York

HACKNEY jazz singer Cleveland Watkiss brings the winter sunshine to the National Centre for Early Music in York on Thursday when presenting his Great Jamaican Songbook concert.

Marking his 60th year with a joyous show, Watkiss revives some of the greatest songs written by Jamaican legends Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown and Delroy Wilson et al as he presents a personal project exploring music that connects him to his Jamaican roots.

Watkiss will be delving into Jamaica’s long history of pioneering musical sounds, from Mento and Ska to Reggae, Dub and Roots, as well as highlighting record labels and producers such as Studio One, Coxsone Dodd, TuffGong, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, and King Tubby.

His 7.30pm set list takes in the work of Don Drummond; Ernest Ranglin; the Barrett Brothers; Jackie Mittoo; Leroy  ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace; Alton Ellis; Ken Booth; The Wailers; Millie Small; Marcia Griffith; Dawn Penn; Dennis Brown; Gregory Isaacs; Burnin’ Spear and Johnny Osbourne, many of whom graduated from The Alpha Boys School under the tutelage of Sister Mary Ignatius Davis, alias “The Nun”.

Thursday night’s musical guests are drawn from Watkiss’s collaborators old and new: Orphy Robinson, on keyboards and percussion; Ray Carless, saxophones; Byron Wallen, trumpet; Delroy Murray, bass; Brandon Murray, guitars; Dan Barnett, drums, and Phil Ramocon, keyboards.

Tickets cost £18, concessions £16, on 01904 658338 or at tickets.ncem.co.uk.

Charles Hutchinson

Why Pocklington’s blues and roots weekend was its biggest and best yet

Guitarist Robbie McIntosh, right, leads a workshop during the Acoustic Blues and Roots Weekend at Pocklington Arts Centre earlier this month

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre is celebrating its “biggest and best” Acoustic Blues and Roots Weekend yet.

Hosted by guitarist Robbie McIntosh and blues slide guitarist Michael Messer from November 15 to 17, this annual event drew a full house of students from across Britain and raised £20,000 for the Pocklington economy.

The students spent the weekend being tutored by McIntosh, who has toured with Paul McCartney, Norah Jones, and The Pretenders, and fellow regular host Messer.

The three-day event featured guitar and slide guitar tuition, jam sessions, student performances and the Acoustic Blues House Party, when Pocklington Arts Centre opened its doors to the public for a one-off concert starring Messer and McIntosh.

The opening day was featured in an afternoon live broadcast on BBC Radio Humberside with presenter Phil White and his crew.

“This year’s Acoustic Blues and Roots Weekend was a resounding success; in fact it was the most successful one eve,” says Messer. “I’ve been involved with running this event at Pocklington Arts Centre for 16 years and I couldn’t hope for a better venue.

“The PAC staff are so helpful, supportive and welcoming that everyone, participants and tutors, want for nothing.

Guitarists Robbie McIntosh, left, and Michael Messer at this month’s Acoustic Blues and Roots Weekend at Pocklington Arts Centre

“In addition, the various hotels and restaurants around town all welcomed us and provided us with fantastic service.

 “All I can say is, ‘thank you Pocklington and we very much look forward to next year’s Acoustic Blues and Roots Weekend’.”

Data collated from surveys conducted by the arts centre have shown that students attending the weekend spent around £20,000, including accommodation and visits to pubs, restaurants, cafes and shops.

Arts centre director Janet Farmer says: “We said last year that our Acoustic Blues and Roots Weekend just keeps going from strength to strength, but this year has just blown us away.

“Hosting the event not only fills our auditorium, studio and bar with the incredible sounds of acoustic blues and roots music, but also the average expenditure from every single student also makes for a resoundingly positive experience for everyone involved, including local businesses. We very much look forward to welcoming everyone back again next year.”

The 2020 Acoustic Blues and Roots Weekend will take place from November 13 to 15. Watch this space for confirmation of when tickets will go on sale.

Charles Hutchinson

Snow Patrol and Little Mix set fair for Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Snow Patrol: sunshine awaits in Scarborough next summer

SNOW Patrol and Little Mix are the new additions to Scarborough Open Air Theatre’s ever-expanding summer season for 2020.

Gary Lightbody’s Northern Irish indie rock band will play on July 4; “the world’s biggest girl band” are booked in for July 21, boosting a line-up already featuring Mixtape (Marc Almond, Heaven 17 and Living In A Box) on July 10 and McFly on August 14.

Tickets will go on sale for Snow Patrol on Friday (November 29) at 9am, preceded by Little Mix on Thursday at 9am, at scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

This month, Snow Patrol have marked their 25th anniversary by releasing Reworked, 13 reimagined versions of their back-catalogue peaks, complemented by three new recordings, Time Won’t Go Slowly, Think Of Home and Made Of Something Different Now.

Next summer’s show is sure to feature the likes of Run, You’re All I Have, Signal Fire, Called Out In The Dark and Take Back the City and Chasing Cars, officially British radio’s most played song of the 21st century. Expect to hear songs too from 2018’s Wildness, their first studio album after a seven-year hiatus.

Peter Taylor, director of Scarborough Open Air Theatre concert promoters Cuffe and Taylor, says: “Snow Patrol are not only one of the biggest-selling UK bands of the last 20 years, but they are also one of the most critically acclaimed live acts. We are delighted to be bringing them to Scarborough for summer 2020.

“They are behind some of the best-loved indie rock anthems and these special songs are going to sound amazing at this unique venue. I have absolutely no doubts this is going to be an incredible night.”

In the Mix: Little Mix confirmed for Scarborough Open Air Theatre return

Little Mix will head to Scarborough on July 21 as part of a 21-date Summer 2020 tour that will take in Hull College Craven Park Stadium, Hull, on July 12.

They played Scarborough OAT previously in July 2017 and this time will perform such hits as Woman Like Me, Touch, Shout Out To My Ex, Black Magic and Wings.

“Performing live is our favourite thing to do as a band, we love it,” say The X Factor alumni Jade Thirlwall, Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jesy Nelson. “Our last summer tour was one of our favourites ever, so we can’t wait for some more brilliant outdoor shows next year. We want everyone to come party with us in the sunshine.”

Record sales of 50 million have seen Little Mix notch up four number one singles, four platinum-selling albums and nine platinum-selling singles in Britain, surpassing a record previously held by the Spice Girls.

Their 2016 album Glory Days was the biggest seller by a female group this century in the UK, alongside being named the longest-reigning Top 40 album for a girl group ever.

This year, Little Mix have toured Europe, Australia, Japan and the United States and taken their LM5 Arena Tour to Britain, Ireland and Europe.

Tickets for both Snow Patrol and Little Mix also will be on sale in person from the Scarborough Open Air Theatre, in Burniston Road, and the Discover Yorkshire Coast Tourism Bureau, Scarborough Town Hall, St Nicholas Street, and on 01723 818111 and 01723 383636. For Little Mix at Scarborough and Hull, visit livenation.co.uk.

Charles Hutchinson

Lionel Richie, Madness and Westlife are “perfect line-up” for first ever York Festival

Hello…is that York Festival calling? Lionel Richie says yes to playing at York Sports Club


AMERICAN soul icon Lionel Richie, British ska legends Madness and Irish pop stars Westlife will headline the first ever York Festival next year.

Mounted by Cuffe and Taylor, the three-day music festival will be held at York Sports Club, Clifton Park, Shipton Road, from June 19 to 21 2020.


Three-day passes, giving access to every night, are available at £129 from today at york-festival.com. Tickets for each night go on sale at £39.50 at 9am on Thursday.


Opening-night headliners Madness, the Camden Town Nutty Boys with a music-hall wit and ska roots, will be joined by Ian Broudie’s Lightning Seeds; BBC radio presenter Craig Charles, for a funk and soul DJ set; Leeds indie rockers Apollo Junction and rising York act Violet Contours.

Westlife will play York Festival on the Saturday as part of their Stadiums In The Summer Tour. Billed as “Britain’s top-selling album group of the 21st century”, they will combine such hits as Swear It Again, Flying Without Wings and You Raise Me Up with songs from their November 15 album, Spectrum.

Joining Westlife in the June 20 line-up will be All Saints, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, indie rock band Scouting For Girls and Take That’s Howard Donald for a DJ set.

On the closing night, Lionel Richie, 70, will be the star attraction as the four-time Grammy Award winner performs both solo and Commodores material.

Good sports: Madness sign up to bring the nuttiest sound around to York Festival at York Sports Club

Promoters Cuffe and Taylor present the Scarborough Open Air Theatre concert programme each summer, bringing Lionel Richie, Madness and Westlife to the East Coast in past years, as well as the likes of Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Sir Elton John and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

They also staged Rod Stewart’s York Racecourse concert on June 1 this summer, drawing 35,000 to a specially erected amphitheatre in the centre of the Knavesmire course.

Director Peter Taylor says: “This is the very first York Festival, so we wanted to make this a very special debut year.


“To have Lionel Richie, Westlife and Madness as headliners – alongside many other brilliant chart-topping artists – is a real coup. We feel this is the perfect line-up for the first year of what we hope will become a major annual event in this wonderful and historic city.


“We cannot wait for Friday, June 19 and opening night. This really is going to be a weekend to remember.”


York Festival will be staged at York Sports Club, the home of York RUFC, York Cricket Club, York Tennis Club and York Squash Club, where The Best Of York Music Festival was held on May 26, The Big Nineties Festival on October 25 and Oktoberfest on October 26.


Nigel Durham, Trustee of York Sports Club and Chairman of York Cricket Club, said:“We are delighted to be hosting the first York Festival, a major new event for the city of York.

Full Spectrum: Westlife will perform songs old and new at York Festival next June


“An historic city the size and stature of ours truly deserves a high-profile music festival like this. And to be attracting such massive stars as Lionel Richie, Westlife and Madness is just brilliant.


“And with the festival being staged in the heart of the city, right here at York Sports Club, this really will capture the imagination and be a great thing for the city, residents, local businesses and visitors.”


Cuffe and Taylor are working closely with City of York Council and Make It York, whose role is to showcase and promote the city around the world.


Championing the inaugural York Festival, Sean Bullick, managing director of Make It York, says: “York Festival will be a brilliant addition to the city’s already busy calendar of summer events for both residents and visitors to enjoy.

“Welcoming such music legends and chart-topping artists, as well as showcasing local talent, is another step forward for York’s cultural offer and we are delighted to help spread the word to audiences.”

In addition to three-day passes and day tickets, a range of VIP offers are available. For more information, go to york-festival.com.

Charles Hutchinson

REVIEW: Son Of Town Hall, The Cockpit, Pickering

Son of Town Hall’s Ben Parker and David Berkeley at The Cockpit, Pickering

Son Of Town Hall, The Cockpit, Pickering, November 20 2019

WE ARE told organic is best, and here is a case in point. Son Of Town Hall are an itinerant duo, with one stock rooted in Simon & Garfunkel and the other in the Peaky Blinders era.

Ben Parker and David Berkeley’s voices meet somewhere in the mid-Atlantic and it’s a thrilling combination, floating on an intimate, warm bed of acoustic guitars.

The pair sail to Yorkshire most years, and it’s always a welcome return (the recent floods hastened their arrival). The tiny club was full, 30 souls sitting in airline seats to hear water-borne songs of love and loss up close. It’s the perfect den to hear live music.

Destined for bigger halls: Son Of Town Hall at The Cockpit

Son Of Town Hall were touring to promote their first album, Adventures Of Son Of Town Hall. It has been a very long time in gestation by modern standards, supposedly recorded live on the raft they travel on.

Miraculously they chose perfectly still days to record and avoided any gimmicky shellac scratches. It ranks with the best of acoustic music released in 2019 – and by virtue of the genre, therefore any year – perhaps an unnecessary drum roll or two away from perfection. While it is music made for the tavern, the song craft worn on Cobbler’s Hill is breath-taking.

Their playful set covered pretty much their entire recorded output, interwoven with amusing interludes about their friendship. Named after a raft made of junk, it is fitting that their music in turn recycles, but, like a weathered pair of frigatebirds, they have picked the ageless bits that shimmer brightest. Some of the old jokes have gone overboard.

“Simon & Garfunkel meets Peaky Blinders”: Son Of Town Hall’s playful set in Pickering

Highlights included Poseidon, which rang and soared, and the quietly devastating Louise. A couple of older songs were revived, with Snow In Mexico particularly welcome. Winds was the pick of the new material, while St Jerome was less fulfilling, missing a measure of grit.

The concept is wildly original, tunes built to last, and their pleasure in performing them so clear. You just hope they don’t tire of the act just as they reach a deservedly wider audience (with gigs this size, in about ten years…).

Review by Paul Rhodes

Country hotshots The Shires to play York Barbican next spring

The Shires: heading for Yorkshire

THE Shires, Britain’s biggest-selling country act, will return to York Barbican on May 20 2020.

The announcement coincides with today’s release of New Year, a taster single from their upcoming fourth album, Good Years, a title whose sentiment reflects on the impact of Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes’ two gold-certified albums and three top ten singles.

The Shires will be playing 25 dates, with York as the only Yorkshire destination, having last performed at the Barbican in May 2018.

As with 2015’s Brave, 2016’s My Universe and 2018’s Accidentally On Purpose, Good Years was recorded in the home of country music, Nashville.

Earle and Rhodes describe it as a poignant project after becoming the first British artists to win Best International Act at the CMA Awards.

“We’re so excited to be releasing Good Years, our fourth album recorded in Nashville, and also to announce our next UK tour,” say the duo, who played this July’s Platform Festival in Pocklington. “Honesty and storytelling have always been such an important part of our songwriting. We’ve poured some of the incredible experiences and life we’ve lived into these songs.

“We can’t wait to hit the road next year and play them live across the country. The songs mean so much to us personally, but there really is nothing like looking out at our fans in the crowd and seeing how much of an impact they can have in someone else’s life. It’s truly a very special thing.”

Tickets will go on sale on Friday, November 29 at 10am at yorkbarbican.co.uk, on 0203 356 5441 or in person from the Barbican box office.  

Good Years will be released on March 13 next year. In the meantime, you can listen to New Year at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqUWBPJ83EQ

Rick Astley under starter’s orders at York Racecourse

Rick Astley: the first name to be confirmed for next summer’s concerts on Knavesmire

EIGHTIES’ pop icon Rick Astley is the first headliner to be confirmed for next summer’s Music Showcase Weekend at York Racecourse.

The Lancastrian crooner, 53, will perform after the seven-race card on Saturday, July 25, in his return to the North Yorkshire open air after his Dalby Forest concert on June 23 2017.

Tickets for the Astley and racing double bill go on sale today at yorkracecourse.co.uk and on 01904 620911.

Astley, from Newton-le-Willows, topped the charts in 25 countries in 1987 with Never Gonna Give You Up, setting in motion a career that brought him eight consecutive British top ten hits and 40 million sales.

After stepping aside to focus on his family, he returned from his long hiatus in 2016 with his third platinum seller, 50, a number one album on which he played all the instruments, as well as writing and producing it.

He repeated that creative process for 2018’s Beautiful Life, and last month he released the career-spanning compilation The Best Of Me, a double disc that included an independently recorded set of reimagined interpretations of his songs, old and new.

This year, Astley joined Take That’s 38-date stadium tour as their special guest, playing to more than 500,000 people. In the summer too, he graced Reading Festival’s main stage, performing Never Gonna Give You Up with Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters, no less.

Since releasing 50, he has sold more than 100,000 tickets to his own British headline shows, including Leeds First Direct Arena last year, and his forthcoming tour dates take in gigs in Australia and Japan, plus his New Zealand debut, before arriving at York Racecourse next July.

James Brennan, head of marketing and sponsorship at York Racecourse, says: “Everyone at the course is really excited that a northern boy is set to play York. Add in the spectacle of the racing itself and we hope it will prove a summer day to savour.”
 
Astley’s show will be one of three race-day concerts on the Knavesmire course next summer, with further acts to be announced for Saturday, June 27 and the evening meeting on  Friday, July 24.

Charles Hutchinson