YORK band Shed Seven are on the cusp of hitting the maximum high after 30 years of chasing rainbows. New album A Matter Of Time is standing proud at number one in the midweek chart.
Their sixth studio album and first for their new home of Cooking Vinyl is on course to see the Britpop alumni become the first York group to top the UK album chart, giving them the perfect start to their 30th anniversary celebrations. Come Friday afternoon, all will be revealed.
Earlier today, the Sheds posted on Facebook: “We’re over the moon to confirm that A Matter Of Time is #1 in the midweek album chart!! Thank you all SO MUCH for buying the album and getting us to this amazing position.
“It’s not a done deal yet as we’re against the usual major label artists, so now more than ever, if you can buy a copy or download the album, it makes a huge difference to our chart position. Unfortunately streaming doesn’t make a big difference. https://shedsevenn.lnk.to/AMOT”
“We’d also be the first ever artist from YORK to get a #1 album, so let’s bring it home!!!!” they added.
That claim is not strictly true, however: All of 60 years ago, York-born composer John Barry wrote the score for the James Bond film Goldfinger, whose soundtrack album topped both the British and American charts, knocking The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night off its perch in July 1964.
The promotional campaign has caught fire from the pre-sale start last autumn. All test pressings? Sold out. Limited-edition Blood Records vinyl edition? Sold out. Live edition of the album? Sold out.
Album release shows at Pryzm, Kingston upon Thames, on January 25, HMV Empire, Coventry, on January 26 and Project House, Armley Road, Leeds, on January 27 – the only times the Sheds will play A Matter Of Time in its entirety, coupled with a greatest hits set – all sold out too.
Timed to coincide with the album’s release last Friday, a ten-day record store tour began with meet & greet and signing appearances at HMV York, in Coney Street, and earlier that day at The Vinyl Whistle, in Headingley, Leeds, where the Sheds performed in stripped-back mode.
The tour takes vocalist Rick Witter, guitarist Paul Banks, bassist Tom Gladwin and 2022 recruits Tim Wills, keyboards, and Rob ‘Maxi’ Maxfield, drums, to London, Southampton, Brighton, Bristol, Birmingham, Leamington Spa, Nottingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and back to London.
At the weekend, Witter and Gladwin joined hosts Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer in Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch studio, “chatting and cooking on gas”, followed later by a full band performance at the end of the show. “It will be the talk of the town!” they promised beforehand, in a reference to one of the album tracks.
Time matters, but it is not too late to support Shed Seven’s quest for the number one spot. A Matter Of Time is available to buy at shedsevenn.lnk.to/AMOTPR, with a range of album bundles and a new Going For Gold coloured vinyl LP format, exclusive to Banquet Records and limited to 300 copies.
Standing on the edge of achieving a new peak, the Sheds have returned to their roots with a deluxe digital download format that combines A Matter Of Time with Changed Giver, a stripped-back unplugged re-make of their 1994 debut album, Change Giver, recorded at Reel Studios in Elvington.
While Shed Seven have been a mainstay on the album charts over the past 30 years, their highest-charting record to date is 1999’s Going For Gold. That greatest hits collection peaked at number seven although 1996’s A Maximum High, 1998’s Let It Ride and 2017’s Instant Pleasures all made the Top Ten.
This summer, the Sheds will mark their 30th anniversary by playing two homecoming shows in York Museum Gardens on July 19 and 20 that sold out rapidly. Their special guest will be Peter Doherty, who contributes harmonies to the new album’s closing song, Throwaways.
Sheds’ vocalist Rick Witter enthuses: “Can you believe that after 30 years in the business, this album will be our highest-charting entry? We are also within reach of potentially getting our first number one album – we’d be the first band from York to reach the top! Thank you for all the support over the years and for A Matter Of Time. It’s genuinely appreciated. We have lots more planned throughout the year.”
Confirmed already is Shed Seven’s appearance at Blossoms’ Big Bank Holiday Weekend at Wythenshawe Park, Manchester, on August 25.
Expect more anniversary celebrations to be announced soon.
SHE is “probably nuts to try it”, but nevertheless The Great British Bake Off judge Dame Prue Leith will mount her debut tour next year at the age of 82.
Nothing In Moderation is in the 2023 diary for March 2 at the Grand Opera House, York, as part of a 34-date British and Irish itinerary that will run from February 1 to an April 6 finale at the London Palladium.
Nothing is off the menu – apart from cookery demonstrations – in this frank, funny, foodie show, wherein Dame Prue will share anecdotes about her life: taking audiences through the ups and downs of being a restaurateur, chef, cookery school supremo, food writer, businesswoman and Bake Off judge.
Dame Prue says: “I’ve never done a stage show before and at 82 [83 by the time she plays York] I’m probably nuts to try it, but it’s huge fun, makes the audience laugh and lets me rant away about the restaurant trade, publishers, TV and writing, and sing the praises of food, love and life.”
Gourmet guru Dame Prue has been a judge on the world’s biggest baking TV show, The Great British Bake Off, since when 2017, when she joined Paul Hollywood after the switch to Channel 4.
Before Bake Off, South African-born Prue had long enjoyed success in her career, running her own party and event catering business in the 1960s and ’70s, then setting up Leith’s Food and Wine to train professional chefs and amateur cooks.
From feeding the rich and famous to cooking for royalty and even poisoning her clients, all will be told for the first time in Nothing In Moderation.
Her ever-busy diary left only ten minutes on Zoom for this interview, but that’s still time enough to take the microwave fast track to asking questions. How did it all start, Dame Prue? “I was at Cape Town University, flailing around failing at everything, so I persuaded my father that I should go to France, with a view to becoming an interpreter for the United Nations, but I fell in love with French food. I do love France anyway and you can’t live in Paris for two years and not appreciate it.”
London now has more Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere but Paris, but when Dame Prue headed to England, it was the nadir of cooking. It took Elizabeth David to change all that. “Before then, olive oil was something you bought at Boots for your ears!” she recalls.
Think of England served on a plate back then, and it would be overcooked meat, industrial gravy, slopped out with two veg.
Prue Leith was determined to rectify that. “I don’t think of myself as having been on a mission, but I’ve always wanted to be at the forefront of change, and there are some things I’m very passionate about, like having English cheese on the menu when no posh restaurant would not have had French cheese, or writing the menu in English, rather than French,” she says.
“When I was on the board at British Rail, I took all their top chefs to Paris for a week to experience nouvelle cuisine. They were scornful, thinking it was a little bit of food on a big white plate, not realising how exact it was, with a balance of top-quality ingredients. It was interesting to then see these scornful chefs thinking, ‘I could do that’.”
In today’s cuisine scene, “the most interesting food in England right now is street food, where refugees in lockdown started doing street food,” says Dame Prue. “Often it leads to them opening restaurants.”
To create her stage show, she wrote a script, then did a few try-outs in Leamington Spa and Bath, using a back projector to screen clips from her past or for jokes, before taking the show to New York and Los Angeles for two nights in each American city.
“At the beginning, I wasn’t loving it; my heart was beating so hard, but I got 100 per cent of the audience saying they would recommend the show to their friends, which was amazing,” says Dame Prue.
“Before I even started in LA, as soon as I walked on stage, they were hollering and whooping, and there was this great wave of appreciation. It’s the best feeling in the world. I quite understand why some comedians never retire!”
Will she change the show’s content ahead of the UK tour? “I still think there are too many funny stories about cooking for the royals and catering disasters,” she says.
Alas, the ten-minute noose was tightening, so there was no time for Dame Prue to relate those stories, but come March 2, York Barbican audience members can seek answers to “what they’ve always wanted to ask” her when she is joined on stage by Clive Tulloh in the second half.
“We curate the questions because it’s a mistake just to take a microphone to the audience, where sometimes someone just has a bee in their bonnet, rather than wanting to ask a question. To avoid all that, we ask people to write their questions and Clive then brings them together.”
One final question for Dame Prue: does she prefer The Beatles’ psychedelic 1968 version of Dear Prudence or Siouxsie And The Banshees’ post-punk 1983 cover version?
“Well, it would be The Beatles,” she says without hesitation, forever a devotee of the Fab Four generation. “People ask me what my favourite song is and I say, ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’.”
Prue Leith: Nothing In Moderation Live Tour 2023, Grand Opera House, York, March 2 , 7.30pm. Box office: atgtickets.com/York.Also: Sheffield City Hall, February 28, 7.30pm. Box office: sheffieldcityhall.co.uk.
MARK Thomas, the grouchy godfather of British political comedy, is taking down politicians, mucking about, offering new ideas and finding hope in his new tour show, Black And White.
At Leeds City Varieties Music Hall tomorrow night (3/11/2022) and The Crescent, York, on Tuesday, he asks: How did we get here? What are we going to do about it? Who’s up for a sing-song?
“After lockdowns and isolation, this is a show about the simple act of being in a room together and toppling international capitalism,” says Londoner Mark, veteran alternative comedian, television and radio presenter, satirist, journalist and purveyor of political stunts on Channel 4’s The Mark Thomas Comedy Product.
He is heading out on the road after this summer’s sold-out Edinburgh Fringe run at The Stand Comedy Club elicited such reviews as: “seething, righteous and largely evidenced anger”… “incandescent critique of UK and world politics”… “his ire is something to behold”.
Here comes doubting Thomas, putting everything in Black And White in a turbulent world, but why give the tour that tagline? “Because it matches the tour poster!” he reasons. “A mate of mine took the photo, and then an artist called Tracey Mobley put it through a computer that turned it into a drawing. It looked amazing!
“So, when they said you need a name for the show – where I’m just going to muck about – I thought, let’s call it ‘Black And White’. But if you want to go for an ideological understanding of it, I guess it’s got to the point where it’s all of us against the one per cent, where this economic Ponzi scheme isn’t working for us and it’s got to change.”
Mark is up and running now. “Liz Truss espoused the free market, as a willing supporter of the Tufton Street think tanks, which means big responsibilities for human beings, but no responsibilities for businesses. Now she’s gone, Sunak is in, but it’s not even a U-turn.
“It’s like, ‘how much s**t do you want to take? 100 per cent or 99 per cent?’, then 99 per cent is what it will be. What communities need to do is build up resistance.”
How, Mark? “I wouldn’t want to tell people how to do it because they’re the ones doing it,” he says. “There are loads of people doling stuff. Some are doing food banks. There’s a brilliant centre in Sheffield that helps asylum seekers and refugees, The Sanctuary.
“They do English classes, IT classes, help with legal matters, as well as hot meals and advice. It’s a fantastic place just doing its best to help the community.
“Then there are community pubs. They’re the things that’ll keep going. That’s the kind of stuff I love, that really excites me. Like my football club, AFC Wimbledon, winning the community club of the year award, making sure it’s embedded in the club. Trade unions, communities, that’s what we have to support.”
In past shows, Mark has discussed visiting the West Bank and Jenin; lobbying Parliament; walking in the footsteps of the highest NHS officials; playing at the Royal Opera House; “making stuff” for TV, radio and newspapers and going undercover.
Black And White promises “creative fun”, or mucking about, if you prefer. “My favourite playwright is Bertolt Brecht, dear old Bertolt Brecht [the 20th century German theatre practitioner, playwright and poet]. I went to his house…he wasn’t in,” says Mark.
“What was fascinating about him, I remember seeing his play The Caucasian Chalk Circle at 15, and it changed my mind, which is one of the cornerstones of theatre, that you can go to a show and have your mind changed.
“Brecht always talked about creative fun, creative dissent, like those climate protestors throwing soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting at the National Gallery. The point being that people were really, really shocked by it, and it was only afterwards that they realised nothing was destroyed.
“It led to more thinking about how we need to have discussions about climate change, how we discuss it and how we may bring about change. In 100 years, no-one will remember a petition, but they will remember dangerous and creative acts because that’s the stuff that’s genuinely upsetting.
”Look at the Suffragettes. They burnt buildings, smashed windows, went on hunger strike. It was a mass movement with masses of acts of defiance. Women were being force-fed when they were on hunger strike. They brought about change.”
What new ideas for change is Mark proposing. “Nationalising the banks,” he says off the cuff. Unlikely, surely? “It doesn’t matter if it’s likely now. It’s about starting the conversation and then it might become reality,” Mark asserts.
“We need to have much more devolved power, given to communities. Proportional representation. Voting at 16. Why shouldn’t someone of 16 have the right to vote? Politics and history are the things that give people agency.”
Where might we find hope, Mark? “Hope is a precious commodity, but there’s a difference between optimism and hope. Just don’t give me false optimism,” he says. “Defiance is the bedrock of hope.
“If you destroy a statue, you can get ten years in jail. That means a statue has more rights of protection than women. That’s nuts.”
Mark is on a roll again. “I voted Remain for one reason, and that’s because I thought a vote for Leave would increase racism and I won’t vote for that,” he says. “But once the vote has happened, that’s the vote, that’s it. Now we need to have a conversation about Brexit, how it’s working out , and what we might do about it in the future.
“Now everyone is feeling the pinch of stagnation and austerity, but all Brexiteers will stand up to say is they’re for sovereignty.
“I hope what we’re going through is the high water mark and this is our time for change. It might not be the high water mark, but one thing is for sure: I love that Bob Crow quote: ‘If you fight, you won’t always win, but if you don’t fight, you will always lose’.”
That fighting spirit permeates through Black And White: “The show is about being rude,” says Mark. “Shouting, mucking about, looking at what communities can do, celebrating us and defiance.”
As ever, Mark Thomas promises “I’ll be around, I’ll help” with his political ire, his zeal for change. How will he mark turning 60 on April 11 next year. “I’ll get my London bus pass and go on the longest route I can,” he says.
Mark Thomas: Black And White, Leeds City Varieties Music Hall, tomorrow, 8pm; The Crescent, York, November 8, 8pm; King’s Hall and Winter Gardens, Ilkley, November 9, 8pm. Box office: Leeds, leedsheritagetheatres.com; York, thecrescentyork.seetickets.com; Ilkley, bradford-theatres.co.uk. Age guidance: 16 plus.
THE Great British Bake Off judge Dame Prue Leith’s debut tour, Nothing In Moderation, is in the 2023 diary for March 2 at the Grand Opera House, York.
Running from February 1 to an April 6 finale at the London Palladium, the 34-date UK and Irish itinerary by the restaurateur, chef, cookery school supremo and doyenne of food writers also takes in Sheffield Memorial Hall on February 28.
Tour tickets will go on sale from 10am on Thursday (29/9/2022) at Mickperrin.com; for York, on 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.
Nothing is off the menu in this frank, funny show, wherein Dame Prue will share anecdotes about her life: taking audiences through the ups and downs of being a restaurateur, novelist, businesswoman and Bake Off judge; how she has fed the rich and famous; cooked for royalty and even poisoned her clients – all to be told for the first time.
In the second half, she will be joined on stage by Clive Tulloh, who will take questions for Dame Prue from the audience “that they’ve always wanted to ask”.
Dame Prue says: “I’ve never done a stage show before and at 82 [83 by the time she plays York] I’m probably nuts to try it, but it’s huge fun, makes the audience laugh and lets me rant away about the restaurant trade, publishers, TV and writing, and sing the praises of food, love and life.”
Baking guru Dame Prue Leith has been a judge on the world’s biggest baking TV show, The Great British Bake Off, since when 2017, when she joined Paul Hollywood after the switch to Channel 4.
Before Bake Off, South African-born Dame Prue had long enjoyed success in her career as a restaurateur, chef, writer and journalist. In the 1960s and ’70s, she ran her own party and event catering business and then set up Leith’s Food and Wine to train professional chefs and amateur cooks.
Dame Prue has written multiple cookery books and many features on food for publications such as The Guardian. She has appeared on TV shows aplenty, including Great British Menu and My Kitchen Rules.
Two quick questions for Dame Prue Leith on cooking for Christmas Day
Which do you prefer, goose or turkey, Prue?
“Either. We sometimes have goose; sometimes turkey. Turkey is much cheaper and it can be absolutely delicious, but do get the full bird. Just the turkey crown doesn’t have the full flavour. Turkey also gives you the best gravy.”
How do you make sprouts more exciting?
“I note that in America, at the moment, sprouts are the most fashionable vegetable, toasted and roasted in oil in a hot oven.
“But I prepare them the day before, then very briefly roughly chop them up in a liquidiser, mixing in cream, garlic, salt and pepper, sometimes bits of bacon, then bung them in the microwave for a couple of minutes – and you have sprouts for sprouts haters!”
JIMMY Carr will complete a hattrick of York performances of his Terribly Funny tour show next spring.
After playing sold-out gigs at York Barbican on November 4 and the Grand Opera House five nights later, he will return to the Barbican on April 15, with the promise of “all-new material for 2022”.
The 49-year-old host of Channel 4’s The Friday Night Project, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown will be discussing terrible things that might have affected you or people you know and love. “But they’re just jokes,” Carr says. “They are not the terrible things.”
Having political correctness at a comedy show is like having health and safety at a rodeo, he asserts.
After recording Funny Business at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2015 andThe Best Of Ultimate Gold Greatest Hits in 2019, Carr’s third Netflix stand-up special, His Dark Material, will premiere on the streaming platform on Christmas Day.
Tickets for Terribly Funny’s third York outing are on sale at yorkbarbican.co.uk.
IRISH comedian and television presenter Dara Ó Briain will ask So…Where Were We? when he resumes touring next year, playing York Barbican on December 15.
By the end of his Voice Of Reason travels, Ó Briain had performed the show 180 times over two years and across 20 countries, from Auckland to Reykjavik, from Moscow to New York, and by March 2020 he was ready for a break.
“I would now like to apologise for saying that and will never wish for anything like that again,” he says, vowing never to stop again, “because that’s clearly what caused all this trouble”. Oh, and he ate a bat, he reasons.
In So…Where Were We?, Ó Briain will hardly mention the last year and a half, “because, Jesus, who wants to hear about that, but will instead fire out the usual mix of stories, one-liners, audience messing and tripping over his words because he is talking too quickly, because he’s so giddy to be back in front of a crowd”.
Ó Briain, 49, has become an ultra-familiar face on British television, hosting BBC Two’s long-running panel show Mock The Week, Stargazing Live and Robot Wars, along with Dave’s Go 8 Bit and Comedy Central’s re-boot of the quiz show Blockbusters.
Add to that list Three Men In A Boat, Three Men In Another Boat, Three Men In More Than One Boat, Three Men Go To Ireland, Three Men Go To Scotland and Three Men Go To Venice; Dara Ó Briain’s Science Club; Dara & Ed’s Great Big Adventure and Dara & Ed’s Road To Mandalay; Dara Ó Briain: School Of Hard Sums and Tomorrow’s Food.
Next, Ó Briain will host Channel 4’s daytime quiz One & Six Zeros, where contestants will compete to win a grand prize of £1,000,000.
Ó Briain has five stand-up DVDs with Universal Pictures to his name: Dara Ó Briain Live At The Theatre Royal (2006); Dara Ó Briain Talks Funny Live In London (2008); This Is The Show (2010); Craic Dealer (2012) and Crowd Tickler (2015). 2018’s Voice Of Reason was filmed exclusively for the BBC.
Ó Briain has put pen to paper for three non-fiction children’s books published by Scholastic UK: Beyond The Sky: You And The Universe (2017), Secret Science: The Amazing World Beyond Your Eyes (2018) and Is There Anybody Out There? (2020).
The golden-tongued County Wicklow storyteller last played York Barbican on his Voice Of Reason tour in March 2019, following his Crowd Tickler gig there in November 2015. Tickets for his 2022 return go on sale from November 5 at yorkbarbican.co.uk.
SIMON Amstell will play the Grand Opera House, York, on September 25 on the introspective, abjectly honest comedian, television host, actor, writer and filmmaker’s 38-date Spirit Hole autumn tour.
These shows add up to his first stand-up comedy travels since the 2019 release of his debut bittersweet comedy-drama film, Benjamin, written and directed by Amstell, and his soul-searching 2019 Netflix stand-up special, Set Free.
Agent provocateur Amstell, 41, will deliver a “blissful, spiritual, sensational exploration of love, sex, shame, mushrooms and more” on a tour with further Yorkshire gigs at The Leadmill, Sheffield, on September 12 and Leeds Town Hall on October 1. York tickets are on sale at atgtickets.com/venues/grand-opera-house-york/; York, Sheffield and Leeds at ticketmaster.com.
Amstell, former saucy host of cult BBC2 pop quiz Never Mind The Buzzcocks, previously played the Grand Opera House in May 2008, October 2009 on his Do Nothing tour and May 2012 on his Numb tour.
Six facts about Simon Amstell
Born: Gants Hill, Ilford, Essex, November 29 1979.
Comedy breakthrough: After making stand-up debut at 13 in the wake of parents’ divorce, complicated childhood and confusion aroused by puberty, he became youngest finalist in BBC New Comedy Awards in 1998.
Presenting roles: Nickolodeon (sacked for being “sarcastic and mean to children”, he says); Popworld, Channel 4; and Never Mind The Buzzcocks, BBC2.
TV series: Grandma’s House, from 2010, playing Simon, a mildly self-obsessed, claustrophobic narcissist, trying desperately to heal his broken family in order to feel something real in his life.
Book: Help, subtitled Comedy. Tragedy. Therapy., published in January 2019, with Amstell’s aim of “telling the truth so it can’t hurt me anymore”, driven by compulsion to reveal his entire self on stage. Loneliness, anxiety, depression feature prominently, but you will “then feel happier than you have ever been”.
Film: Carnage, about veganism, written, directed and narrated by Amstell, set in utopian 2067, where animals live equally among humans. Premiered on BBC in March 2017.
COMEDIAN Mark Watson marks the return of full-capacity gigs at The Crescent community venue, York, with a sold-out 8pm show tonight.
York promoter Al Greaves’ Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Bristol-born Watson, 41, in How You Can Almost Win. Doors open at 7pm.
Watson says: “In 2017, I went on the show The Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls. It involved being abandoned on an island, starved half to death, almost struck by lightning, cut off from all loved ones and turned into a psychological wreck. I was pretty sure it was the most challenging situation I would ever be in. Then, in 2020, the entire planet basically went into survival-show mode.”
As we crawl from the wreckage of the pandemic, tonight Watson dispenses droplets of wisdom brought back from his island misadventure to suggest ways we can adapt. “But still with jokes,” he promises.
During the first lockdown last year, Watson was part of the first double bill for Your Place Comedy, the virtual comedy club set up to support independent venues across the Yorkshire and Humber region.
On April 19 2020, a pyjama-clad Watson and Hull humorist Lucy Beaumont performed live online from their homes, in his case, in the living room, in hers, down the pub, The Dog And B**tard, that she and fellow comedian husband Jon Richardson have set up in their Hebden Bridge garden.
Watson, comedian, novelist, sports pundit, Taskmaster survivor and No More Jockeys cult leader, is noted for cramming spiritual enquiries, high-octane observational comedy and pathological overthinking into his evenings of stand-up.
COMEDIAN and presenter Joe Lycett will play more, more, more shows – 60 in total – on his More, More, More! How Do You Lycett? How Do You Lycett? tour from March to September 2022.
Riffing his show title on a lyric from Andrea True Connection’s April 1976 top-five disco smash More, More, More, Lycett will head to Yorkshire for a tenth of those gigs.
April Fool’s Day and April 3 bring Lycett to York Barbican; Hull Bonus Arena comes in between on April 2, then Sheffield City Hall, on April 15 and 15, and Leeds First Direct Arena, on September 14, on the tour’s arena finale. Tickets go on general sale at 10am tomorrow (18/6/2021) from joelycett.com.
More, More, More! How Do You Lycett? How Do You Lycett? finds Lycett – the artist formerly known briefly as Hugo Boss – exploring his love of art and passion for gardening, how he toys with companies on Instagram and the perils of online trolls.
Lycett, 32, has kept himself busy during the global pandemic, helming his third series of BBC1’s The Great British Sewing Bee, drawing more than six million viewers each week. He is filming series three of his BAFTA-nominated Channel 4 series Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back, where he takes on the major and minor consumer injustices of this world, and soon he will take over as host of Channel 4’s long-running travel documentary series Travel Man.
More, More, More! How Do You Lycett? How Do You Lycett? is Lycett’s fifth tour with a pop culture-purloined title after Some Lycett Hot, If Joe Lycett Then You Should’ve Put A Ring On It, That’s The Way, A-Ha, A-Ha, Joe Lycett and I’m About To Lose Control And I Think Joe Lycett: his biggest tour to date with 90 British dates and many more in Australia.
Lycett contributed an artwork to Grayson Perry’s first Channel 4 lockdown series Grayson’s Art Club and hosts shows regularly on BBC Radio 2.
Last November, he directed the music video for Litany’s Uh-huh, featuring comedy turn Katherine Ryan, RuPaul’s Drag Race star Vinegar Strokes and a cameo from Lycett himself. Earlier this year, he debuted his surreal video for Katy J Pearson’s Miracle, replete with a life-size toy cow called Muriel and some shanty singers.
Birmingham-born Lycett last played York on May 13 2018 at the Grand Opera House on his I’m About To Lose Control And I Think Joe Lycett travels.
He made earlier visits to Toby Clouston Jones’s Saturday Night Lounge comedy nights at The Duchess in January and March 2015; the Hyena Lounge Comedy Club, with If Joe Lycett Then You Should’ve Put A Ring On It, at the Basement, City Screen, in February 2014; an Edinburgh Fringe work-in-progress preview of that show in the Basement in Summer 2013 and a Hyena Lounge bill with James Acaster and Chris Stokes in January that year.
As trailered in a Lycett tweet earlier this week with the exhortation “Mummy needs you!”, he is due to be in York today, filming for Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back.
MEANWHILE, in further diary notes at York Barbican, Wakefield cabaret singer Jane McDonald’s Let The Light In show is on the move to Summer 2022.
For so long booked in as the chance to Get The Lights Back On at the Barbican on July 4, the Government’s postponement of “Freedom Day” from June 21 to July 19 at the earliest has enforced a late-change.
First booked in for 2020, McDonald will light up York Barbican on July 22 2022; tickets remain valid for the twice-rearranged show.
Historian and television presenter Dan Snow’s History Hit show on October 20 is, alas, history itself now, hit by a “scheduling conflict”.Snow “hopes to be back on the road again in the not-too-distant future”; tickets will be automatically refunded from the point of purchase.
In a second humorous addition, to go with Lycett, Germany’s ambassador of comedy, Henning Wehn, will “give everything a good rinse as you witness him wring sense out of the nonsensical” in It’ll All Come Out In The Wash on June 17 2022.
Wehn concedes that “an unbiased look at a certain virus might be inevitable” but he “has no agenda; he just happens to be always spot on. It’s a curse”.
GRAYSON Perry’s lockdown-delayed “lost pots” exhibition at York Art Gallery, The Pre-Therapy Years, will run from May 28 to September 5.
This touring show will be held in the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) in the first celebration of Perry’s earliest forays into the art world.
“This show has been such a joy to put together,” said Perry, when the show was first announced for a June 12 to September 20 run in York in 2020 until the pandemic intervened. “I’m really looking forward to seeing these early works again, many of which I have not seen since the Eighties.
“It’s as near as I will ever get to meeting myself as a young man, an angrier, priapic me with huge energy but a much smaller wardrobe.”
Developed by the Holburne Museum in Bath, The Pre-Therapy Years re-introduces the explosive and creative works the Chelmsford-born artist made between 1982 and 1994.
Gathering the 70 works has been facilitated by crowd-sourcing through a national public appeal, resulting in the “lost pots” being put on display together for the first time since they were made.
Dr Helen Walsh, curator of ceramics at York Art Gallery, says: “We are delighted to be showcasing the ground-breaking early works of such a renowned and influential artist.
“It is fascinating to see how his craft has progressed and evolved since he began working as an artist. His early ceramic works show that the distinctive style, themes and characters have always been central in his decoration.”
Helen continues: “To be able to bring these works together for public display, many of which are usually hidden away in private collections, is absolutely thrilling.
“We are very much looking forward to seeing Grayson Perry’s ceramic works displayed in the beautiful Centre of Ceramic Art at York Art Gallery alongside our own collection of British studio ceramics.”
Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years will shine a light on Perry’s experimentation and exploration of the potential of pottery to address radical issues and human stories.
The exhibition “represents a unique opportunity to enjoy the artist’s clever, playful and politically-engaged perspective on the world”. Often challenging and explicit, these works reveal the early development of Perry’s distinctive voice that has established him as one of the most compelling commentators on contemporary society.
Explaining how The Pre-Therapy Years came together, curator Catrin Jones says: “When we proposed the exhibition, Grayson responded really positively because, he said, ‘no-one knows where those works are’.
“So, we asked the public and were absolutely overwhelmed by the response. What followed was an extraordinary process of rediscovery as we were contacted by collectors, enthusiasts and friends, who collectively held over 150 of his early works.”
The first task was to process photos of the pots, plates and drawings that arrived in the inbox, followed by asking all manner of questions about the works and from where they came.
“We logged all the pottery marks and provenance information, as well as the wonderful stories of how their owner came to have a genuine Grayson Perry,” says Catrin.
She and her team next sat down with Perry to look through the extraordinary and varied selection of artworks. During this process, he remarked that seeing the works again was a powerful reminder of his “pre-therapy years”, and an exhibition title was born.
The show begins with Perry’s early collaged sketchbooks, experimental films and sculptures, capturing his move into using ceramics as his primary medium. From his first plate, Kinky Sex (1983), to his early vases made in the mid-1980s, Perry riffed on British vernacular traditions to create a language of his own.
The themes of his later work – fetishism, gender, class, his home county of Essex and the vagaries of the art world – appear in works of explosive energy. Although the majority of his output consisted of vases and plates, Perry’s early experiments with form demonstrate the variety of shapes he produced: Toby jugs, perfume bottles, porringers, funeral urns and gargoyle heads.
Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years begins in 1982, when Perry was first working as an artist and then charts his progress to the mid-1990s, when he became established in the mainstream London art scene.
The exhibition provides a snapshot of a very British time and place, revealing the transition of Grayson’s style, starting out with playful riffs on historic art, such as old Staffordshire pottery, along with crowns (the mixed-media Crown Of Penii, 1982) and thrones (Saint Diana, Let Them Eat S**t, 1984), inspired by his fascination with Princess Diana.
Gradually, he progressed into a style that is patently his own: plates and vases rich with detail that tell tales of our times and experiences, such as 1989’s Cocktail Party.
Much of the iconography of Perry’s output has an angry, post-punk, deeply ironic leaning, combining cosy imagery with shocking sexual or political content.
Many of the works displayed in The Pre-Therapy Years tell a very personal story, particularly in the evolution of Claire, who first appeared in the early 1980s, inspired by such powerful women as television newsreaders and Princess Diana, rather than the exuberant child-like figure Perry created after her “coming out” party in 2000.
Accompanying the rediscovery of Perry’s artworks, the Holburne Museum is illustrating the exhibition with photos and snapshots of the era, again sharing hitherto unseen glimpses of Perry as he journeyed from angry, ironic young artist to one of British art’s best-loved figures.
After completing his art degree in Portsmouth in 1982, Perry moved to London and lived in a Camden squat with the singer Marilyn and Welsh conceptual artist Cerith Wyn Evans, collectively enjoying creative freedom while sharing limited resources.
During these early years, Perry encountered the Neo Naturists, a group of freewheeling performance artists, whose visual and creative approach would have a profound impact on him.
CoCA first exhibited a Grayson Perry ceramic, Melanie, in July 2015 as its centrepiece talking point after York Art Gallery’s £8 million transformation.
Melanie is one of three women from his Three Graces work, joined by Georgina and Sarah in the Miss Plus Size Competition.
“First seen in Grayson’s Who Are You? documentary, Melanie is a voluptuous figurative piece with a strong narrative that discusses the changing view of what constitutes feminine beauty,” said curator of ceramics Helen Walsh on its arrival.
Perry commented on his Three Graces: “In the history of sculpture, female forms such as these were often seen as fertility goddesses to be prayed to for children and plentiful harvests. Nowadays, we are more likely to see a growing health problem.”
Melanie featured subsequently in York Art Gallery’s re-opening exhibition, Your Art Gallery – Paintings Chosen By You, from August 20 last year.
In May 2014, accompanied by his childhood teddy bear Alan Measles, Perry opened the Meet The Museums Bears special event in the York Museum Gardens in full transvestite regalia as part of York Museums Trust’s contribution to the Connect 10 Museums At Night national celebration.
Last year, from February 8, Perry’s Stitching The Past Together tapestries went on show at Nunnington Hall, near Helmsley. Out went the National Trust country house’s 17th century Verdure tapestries for conservation work; in came a pair of Grayson’s typically colourful and thought-provoking Essex House Tapestries: The Life Of Julie Cope (2015).
Hanging in an historic setting for the first time, in the Nunnington Hall drawing room, this brace of large-scale, striking works tells the story of Julie Cope, a fictitious Essex “everywoman” created by the irreverent Chelmsford-born Perry.
2003 Turner Prize winner Perry kept himself busy in Lockdown 1 by launching Grayson’s Art Club, his pledge to “battle the boredom” of the lockdown through art, in a six-part series on Channel 4 from April 27 2020 that attracted a million viewers a week.
From his London workshop, the Essex transvestite artist, potter, broadcaster and writer took viewers on a journey of artistic discovery in themed shows designed to “encourage you to make your own work in the new normal of isolation”.
Grayson’s Art Club has returned for an on-going second series, presented by Perry in tandem with his wife, the author, psychotherapist and broadcaster Philippa Perry.
Looking ahead, outré artist and social commentator Perry has a York-bound live show in the late-summer.
In his own words: Despite being an award-winning artist, Bafta-winning TV presenter, Reith lecturer and best-selling author, Grayson Perry is a normal person – and just like other normal people, he is “marginally aware that we’re all going to die”.
Cue Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, booked into York Barbican for September 6 on night number five of this year’s 23-date tour. Sheffield City Hall awaits on September 10; Harrogate Convention Centre on November 27.
What will be on Perry’s mind? “Let Grayson take you through an enlightening and eye-watering evening in which this kind of existentialism descends from worthiness to silliness. You’ll leave safe and warm in the knowledge that nothing really matters anyway,” his show patter promises.
“Join Grayson as he asks, and possibly answers, these big questions in an evening sure to distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can.”
Perry, who turned 61 on March 24, has had an artistic career spanning 40 years, revealing a diverse expertise in “making lemonade out of the mundanity of life”. Such as? In 2015, he designed A House For Essex, a permanent building constructed in the North Essex countryside.
Last autumn, he presented Grayson Perry’s Big American Road Trip, a three-part documentary travelogue on Channel 4, exploring the meaning of the American Dream in today’s disunited United States of America.
Tickets for Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People are on sale at yorkbarbican.co.uk.