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.
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.
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…).
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.
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
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.
Musical Theatre Company will stage Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus
Christ Superstar from November 27 to 30 at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York.
newcomer John Whitney will lead director Paul Laidlaw’s cast for this 1972 rock
opera, a “musical phenomenon” that follows the last week of Jesus’s life through
the eyes of Judas Iscariot, exploring the struggles and personal relationships
between his followers and disciples.
gritty and touching emotional rollercoaster ride, Lloyd Webber and Rice’s score
parades such favourites as Superstar, Everything’s Alright and I Don’t Know How
To Love Him.
joined in the creative team by musical director John Atkin, overseeing a cast
led by Whitney’s Jesus, Marlena Kelli’s Mary Magdalene, Peter Wookie as Pilate
and Chris Mooney as Judas.
“We were thrilled
to have such a great response to auditions, particularly from so many new faces
to the company,” says Laidlaw. “We’ve always been proud of the fact that we
welcome any new people to join any show that we do, and if you’re new, you can
walk into lead roles, and that’s what’s happened.
actors playing Jesus, Judas, Pilate and Mary Magdalene are all new to the company
and it’s really encouraging to see. The strength in the singing is staggering
and is going to sound just fantastic on stage. We really can’t wait to show
York audiences all our hard work.”
principal roles go to John Haigh as Herod; Chris Haygard as Simon Zealotes;
Martin Harvey, Caiphas; Matthew Clare, Annas; Simon Trow and Malcolm Poole,
Priests; David Martin, Apostle Peter, and Heather Richmond, Maid.
In the ensemble will be Helen Barugh; Victoria Hughes; Helen Goodwill; Samantha Hindman; Jane Holiday; Elly-Mai Mawson; Karen Mawson; Jennifer Page; Amie Stone; Holly Inch; Amy Lacy; Paula Stainton; Charlotte Wetherell; Matthew Ainsworth; Derek McMahon and Andrew Pilot.
Tickets for the 7.30pm evening shows and 2.30pm Saturday matinee are on sale at £18, concessions £16, at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or on 01904 501935.
MARC Almond, Heaven 17 and Living In A Box will lead the Mixtape line-up of
Eighties and Nineties acts at Scarborough Open Air Theatre on July 10 next
Tickets will go on sale tomorrow (November 22) at 9am for the second SOAT show to be confirmed for 2020 after McFly were booked in for August 14. Peter Taylor, directorof venue programmers Cuffe and Taylor, says: “We are delighted to announce Mixtape, the much-requested return of an ‘80s and ‘90s night to Scarborough Open Air Theatre.
“Previous shows have always been a big party night and, since the last ‘80s and ‘90s night here in 2017, we’ve been repeatedly asked for another one. We’ve listened, and Mixtape is here for summer 2020. “Marc Almond, Heaven 17 and Living In A Box are not only three great artists with a string of major hits between them, but they all have such a strong local connection. We feel sure this will be another great night on the stunning Yorkshire coast.” Lancashire-born Marc Almond first made his mark as frontman of chart-topping Leeds synthpop duo Soft Cell before branching out into a diverse solo career. He was awarded an OBE for services to music and the arts, an Ivor Novello Inspiration Award, an Icon Award by Attitude Magazine and a Mojo Magazine Inspiration Award, as well as receiving an Honorary Fellowship from Leeds College of Music.
Sheffield electronic stalwarts Heaven 17 will celebrate their 40th
anniversary in 2020. Born out of the schism in the original Human League, they still
feature Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware, makers of such hits as Temptation and Come
Live With Me and the albums Penthouse And Pavement and The Luxury Gap.
Fellow Sheffield band Living In A Box have joined forces with double BRIT
nominee Kenny Thomas, the Nineties’ soul singer, who has taken over the lead vocals.
Tickets will be on sale at scarboroughopenairtheatre.com, in person from the SOAT box office, in Burniston Road, or the Discover Yorkshire Coast Tourism Bureau, in Scarborough Town Hall, St Nicholas Street, or on 01723818111 and 01723 383636.
BAH Humbug! The
Christmas spirit is taking over the Grand Opera House, York, from Tuesday and
not even Ebenezer Scrooge can stop it.
York company Pick Me
Up Theatre are presenting their big winter show, Scrooge The Musical, directed
by Robert Readman, with choreography by Iain Harvey and musical direction by
course: based on Charles Dickens’s Victorian cautionary tale A Christmas Carol,
Scrooge tells the tale of old miser Ebenezer Scrooge on the night he is visited
by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come.
Can he be turned
from sourpuss to saint? What will happen to Tiny Tim? Will everyone have a
merry Christmas after all? “Come and find out in this all-singing, all-dancing,
all-flying show,” invites Robert.
His cast will be led by Pick Me Up regular Mark Hird, fresh from directing this autumn’s musical, Monster Makers, at 41 Monkgate. He now adds Scrooge to a diverse CV that includes Captain Mainwaring in Dad’s Army, Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady and Uncle Fester in The Addams Family.
roles go to Rory Mulvihill as the jolly Ghost of Christmas Present and Alan
Park as Scrooge’s long-suffering clerk Bob Cratchit.
“It started out as a film musical in
1970, adapted for the screen by Leslie Bricusse, with Albert Finney as
Scrooge,” recalls Mark. “But it was one of those musicals that landed at an
unlucky time just as film musicals went out of fashion.
“Everyone thought it was an absolute banker, but times and tastes change,
but now, when you go back to it, it’s actually a really good film.
“So, 22 years later, Leslie Bricusse decided to turn it into a stage
musical, wrote half a dozen new songs, written specially for Anthony Newley’s
Scrooge, and it went down incredibly well.”
Alan Park chips in: “Then it became a vehicle for Tommy Steele for many
years in Bill Kenwright’s productions. Each year, Robert Readman put in a
request for the performing rights, and at last, this year he got a ‘Yes’.
“So, this must be the first time it will have been done in a theatre of
this size without it being a Bill Kenwright show.”
Park and Hird believe that Bricusse’s songs are vital to the show’s success.
“They provide the vehicle for you to discover more about the characters beyond
Scrooge, like Bob, so that by the end of a song you know more about them,” says
“You get the inner
thoughts of the characters in the songs, so you get more than 2D characters,”
suggests Mark. “You really see Scrooge’s progression, through his songs, for
“You’re also quite
surprised by the sheer variety of the songs and the music, with some big
“There are some
proper Cockney knees-up songs,” says Alan.
“But also some
lovely ballads, like when Scrooge sees the only girl he ever loved as a young
man, Isabel, his fiancée,” rejoins Mark. You go back in time and you hear her singing this gorgeous ballad
with Young Scrooge called Happiness, as old Scrooge looks on.”
“The way Robert has
staged it, you have Young Scrooge and old Scrooge mirroring each other’s
actions, so you kind of feel like Isabel is singing it to old Scrooge,” says
Picking up his
earlier point about Scrooge’s character progression, Mark says: “Through his
songs, Scrooge goes from his position of denial, saying how he hates Christmas,
to feeling ‘it’s not my fault, fate has done this to me’, when confronted by
the Ghost of Christmas Past.
“Then, with the
Ghost Of Christmas Present, he starts to think, ‘Could there be a better
life?’, so it’s a fantastic story arc and a fantastic set of songs, with one of
the most perfect stories ever written to hang it all together.”
A Christmas Carol
has been interpreted in myriad ways on screen and stage, even by The Muppets
puppets in 1992 in The Muppet Christmas Carol “My five-year-old daughter is
still convinced I’m playing a frog in Scrooge, because her exposure to A
Christmas Carol is seeing Kermit playing Bob Cratchit in the Muppets’ movie!”
abiding popularity of Dickens’ tale, Alan says: “It’s not just about
redemption. We all reflect on moments in our life, wishing we could have done
things differently, and the story also taps into nostalgia and regret and
worrying about things.
“Watching this story
unfold, it can change your perspective on the world and who you are.”
Mark adds: “It also
says it’s never too late to turn over a new leaf and never too late to start
“The story is full
of joyful moments that are infectious, even infecting Scrooge, so I do feel
it’s a feelgood show,” says Alan. “If you’re looking at a wider point, we all
tend to focus on what’s getting us down, but this story lets us step out and
think about all the joyful things of Christmas.”
Mark concludes: “There’s probably no better show to put you in a good mood for Christmas.”
Pick Me Up Theatre’s Scrooge The Musical runs from November 26 to December 1 at Grand Opera House, York. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york.
EIGHTIES’ pop star Kim Wilde will play
York Barbican on September 17 next year on her Greatest Hits 2020 Tour.
Wilde, 59, last performed there on her
Here Come The Aliens tour in April 2018, her first on home soil in almost 30
years, after releasing a studio album that year inspired by a real-life close
encounter in the gardening expert’s back garden in 2009.
Wilde subsequently released the live
album Aliens Live, and next year she will be marking her 40 years in pop that
began as “the voice of a generation of rebellious youth” with Kids In America.
Her Greatest Hits Tour will take in
further hits such as Chequered Love, Water On Glass, View From A Bridge, You Keep
Me Hangin’ On, Cambodia, You Came, Never Trust A Stranger and Four Letter Worn, complemented the
less often aired A Million Miles Away and Love Is Holy. As in 2018, her band
will include two drummers.
Her special guests will be fellow
Eighties’ chart act China Crisis, best known for Wishful Thinking, King In A
Catholic Style, Black Man Ray and African And White.
Tickets go on sale from Friday at 9am on 0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or from the Barbican box office in person.
NORTHERN Broadsides will stage a festive fundraiser, Christmas
Broadsides, at The Viaduct Theatre, Dean Clough. Halifax, from December 13 to
This concert is based around Broadside Ballads; song lyrics published
from the 1600s onwards, featuring popular songs of scurrilous dealings,
thwarted love and ginormous geese.
For this combination of folk song and storytelling, Amir Beymanesh and Kamran Hoss, two Iranian musicians who arrived in Yorkshire recently, will join Ripponden folk musician and multi-instrumentalist Alice Jones.
West Yorkshire actors Catherine Kinsella and Tom Shaw complete the Halifax company’s line-up for this celebration of festive cheer and reflection on Christmases past, present and future.
Broadsides’ artistic director, Laurie
Sansom, says: “We are thrilled to be celebrating this Christmas with old
friends and new, welcoming Amir and Kamaran to Halifax in this extraordinary
collaboration with the multi-talented Alice Jones.
“It’s a chance to share together ridiculous
festive songs of comic extravagance, whilst also thinking of those who may be
far from home this Christmas.
“We look forward to welcoming regular
supporters and new friends who want to support the work of their local theatre
company, and our collaborators at St Augustine’s Centre, who support refugees
and asylum seekers.”
Looking ahead to 2020, Sansom’s debut production as Broadsides’ artistic director, a new take on J.M. Barrie’s regency romantic comedy Quality Street, will open at Dean Clough from February 14 to 22.
Broadsides will collaborate with workers from the Halifax Quality Street
chocolates factory by developing contemporary
tales of hapless love that will frame the action
of Barrie’s tale.
Barrie’s play was so popular in its day that it gave the
chocolates their name. Its story revolves around Phoebe Throssel, who lives on
Quality Street, the bustling hub of a quaint northern town where she runs a
school for unruly children.
years since a tearful goodbye, an old flame returns from fighting Napoleon, but
the look of disappointment on Captain Valentine’s face when he greets a more
mature, less glamorous Phoebe, spurs the determined heroine to action.
She becomes the wild and sparkling Miss Livy, a younger alter-ego
who soon entraps the clueless Captain. As their romance is rekindled, can she
juggle both personas? Or will her deception scandalise the town and wreck any
future with the man she loves?
Now, as well as providing a modern lens through which to view Barrie’s
story, Broadsides also aims to build long-lasting relationships between the Halifax
employees and their local theatre company.
Broadsides’ tour of Quality Street will
take in Leeds Playhouse from April 21 to 25; Stephen Joseph Theatre,
Scarborough, May 12 to 16; Harrogate Theatre, May 19 to 23; Hull Truck Theatre,
June 2 to 6, and last stop York Theatre Royal, June 9 to 13.
Christmas Broadsides will be performed at The Viaduct Theatre, Dean Clough, Halifax, at 7pm on December 13 and 3pm and 6pm on December 14 and 15. Tickets are on sale on 01422 849227 or at northern-broadsides.co.uk.
YES are to play York Barbican next spring, but no, not the ‘Yes’ that
performed there in June 29018 under the name Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor
Rabin, Rick Wakeman, as they now have to call themselves.
No, this Yes is the one that officially tours as Yes, with Steve Howe
on guitars, Alan White on drums, Geoff Downes on keyboards, Billy Sherwood on bass
guitar and backing vocals, Jon Davison on vocals and Jay Schellen on additional
drums and percussion.
This Yes are booked into the Barbican for May 29 2020 as part of an
eight-date May and June itinerary for The Album Series 2020 Tour, when the
prog-rock veterans will perform 1974’s Relayer in its entirety, preceded by a set
of Yes classic cuts. Expect “full production and a high definition video wall”.
Released on Atlantic Records in late 1974, Yes’s seventh studio album
marked a slight change in direction as Patrick Moraz replaced Rick Wakeman on
keyboards, bringing “an edgier, avant-garde feel” to the recordings.
The opening Gates Of Delirium, almost 22 minutes in length, battle scene
et al, featured Moraz’s keyboard jousting with Howe’s guitar before the battle
gave way to the ballad Soon, a prayer for peace and hope.
highlights on an album that reached number four in the British chart and number
five in the US Billboard chart were Sound Chaser, a prog rock/jazz fusion experiment heavily influenced by
Moraz’s style, and To Be Over, the calm and gentle closer, based on a Howe melody.
“We’re really looking forward to playing all of
the Relayer album,” says Howe. “Having premiered The Gates Of Delirium
this year, we continue by expanding our Album Series with all the tracks: The
Gates Of Delirium, Sound Chaser and To Be Over.”
Howe adds: “During the first half of the evening, we’ll be performing a
refined selection from Yes’s enormous 50-year repertoire. See you there.”
Drummer Alan White says: “I always enjoy coming home to England, so
I’m especially looking forward to Yes’s upcoming Album Series 2020 tour. Relayer,
I believe, is one of the most creative and interesting musical compilations in
the band’s repertoire.
“Challenging and extremely enjoyable to play, I’m happy to be bringing
this music back to live stages throughout Europe. I hope all who attend our
shows will enjoy these cuts as much as we like performing them for our
Tickets for Yes’s 8pm show are on sale on 0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from the Barbican box office.
Did you know?
ROGER Dean, designer of Yes’s iconic album artwork, will attend every
show of the 2020 British and European dates. An exhibition of his work will be
on show, and Dean will be available to chat with fans front of house, sign
merchandise and take part in VIP meet and greets.
WILL Young and James Morrison will co-headline a Forest Live concert at
Dalby Forest, near Pickering, on June 27 as one of six fund-raising concerts
for Forestry England next summer.
Tickets for the two BRIT award winners go on sale at £49.50 plus booking
fee at 9am on Friday, November 22 on 03000 680400 or at forestryengland.uk/music.
Young, 40, won the inaugural series of Pop
Idol in 2002, since when he has notched up seven top five albums, four reaching
number one, as well as four chart-topping singles, his debut, Anything Is
Possible/Evergreen, Light My Fire, The Long And Winding Road with Pop Idol
rival Gareth Gates and Leave Right Now.
Jealousy was his last top five single
success in 2011 and he released his latest album, Lexicon, in June after a
Young branched out into film and
musicals, starring on screen alongside Dame Judi Dench in Mrs Henderson
Presents in 2005 and appearing as Emcee in Cabaret at Leeds Grand Theatre in
Morrison, 35, first made his mark with
his million-selling, chart-topping debut album, Undiscovered, in 2006 and has
had top ten hits with You Give Me Something, Wonderful World, You Make It Real,
Broken Strings with Nelly Furtado and I Won’t Let You Go, like Young, his last top
five entry in 2011.
This year’s album, You’re Stronger Than
You Know, was preceded by Higher Than Here in 2015, the number one success The
Awakening in 2011 and Songs For You, Truths For Me in 2008.
Young, who performed at York Barbican
last month, played previously at Dalby Forest in 2012; Morrison likewise in
2007. Next summer, they will present individual sets, but who will “co-headline”
first? Wait and see in sets that will combine greatest hits with selections
from this year’s albums.
Young says: “Both James and I have fond
memories of appearing as part of Forest Live as solo artists in the past. We
love the work Forestry England does, so we’re glad to be back again in what
promises to be a fantastic double-header of a show.”
Morrison adds: “For the last 20 years,
Will has been at the forefront of British popular culture. That’s a massive
achievement. I think our sets will complement each other in a special way and
I’m really looking forward to our shows together. It’ll be a great night out.”
Forest Live’s series of concerts is
held each summer by Forestry England at Dalby Forest; Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury,
Gloucestershire; Bedgebury Pinetum, Tunbridge Wells, Kent; Thetford Forest, Brandon,
Suffolk; Cannock Chase Forest, Rugeley, Staffordshire, and Sherwood Pines
Forest, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.
Among past performers at Dalby Forest
are Paul Weller four times; Blondie; Bryan Ferry; Simple Minds; Pulp; Status
Quo twice; UB40; Simply Red; McFly; George Ezra; Tom Odell; Elbow; Paul Heaton
& Jacqui Abbott twice; Madness; M People; Paloma Faith twice; Guy Garvey; Kaiser
Chiefs; Embrace; Keane; Erasure; James Blunt; Rick Astley; John Newman; Plan B;
Travis and The Zutons.
Funds raised from ticket sales go to forest
sustainability for people to enjoy, wildlife to flourish and trees to grow.