Scarborough Open Air Theatre clocks up 100th show as Courteeners play tonight

100 not out: Courteeners playing the landmark 100th show at the reopened Scarborough Open Air Theatre tonight. Picture: Cuffe and Taylor

COURTEENERS have the honour tonight of performing Scarborough Open Air Theatre’s 100th show since its 2010 reopening.

Supported by Wirral wonders The Coral, the Manchester band will perform under the East Coast setting sun in a week when fellow Mancunians James will play Britain’s largest purpose-built outdoor concert arena tomorrow and Snow Patrol on Friday.

More than 450,000 people have attended a concert at Scarborough OAT since Her Majesty The Queen re-opened the refurbished Scarborough Borough Council-owned venue in Burniston Road 11 years ago.

Headliners to grace the Scarborough stage include Elton John, Tom Jones, Lionel Richie, Kylie Minogue, Noel Gallagher, Dionne Warwick, Cliff Richard, The Beach Boys, George Benson, Bryan Adams, Michael Ball & Alfie Boe, Status Quo, Happy Mondays, Katherine Jenkins, Little Mix and Britney Spears.

After a pandemic-enforced fallow 2020, this year’s star-studded return has featured Stereophonics, Kaiser Chiefs, Culture Club, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Keane, Olly Murs, UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro and Anne-Marie before concluding with Duran Duran’s sold-out finale on September 17. 

Councillor Jim Grieve, Scarborough Borough Council’s cabinet member for quality of life, said: “Since reopening in 2010, Scarborough Open Air Theatre has established itself as the borough’s premier outdoor live music venue.

“Working with our partners, we’ve brought some of the biggest names in the music industry to the Yorkshire coast. This has boosted the area’s reputation for high- quality events and contributed millions of pounds to the local economy.

“As we reach the milestone of 100 shows at the theatre this week, we look forward to many more years of fantastic events to come.”

Scarborough Open Air Theatre venue manager Stuart Clark: Worked on 90 of the 100 shows since the 2010 reopening

Live music is programmed at Scarborough OAT by promoters Cuffe and Taylor, who are part of Live Nation and have a ten-year contract to deliver headline shows at the 8,000-capacity venue.

Venue programmer Peter Taylor said: “What a week we have in store here at Scarborough Open Air Theatre. Courteeners, James and Snow Patrol are three of the biggest names in British indie rock and to bring all three here in the same week is just fantastic. This really is going to be a week to remember.

“Cuffe and Taylor are so proud to have programmed live music at this wonderful venue since 2016, in which time we have brought many world-famous music icons to the Yorkshire coast. We absolutely love it and we cannot wait to add to the 100 big-name headliners in the years to come. Watch this space!”

Shows at Scarborough OAT attract thousands of visitors to the Yorkshire coast each summer and have created an estimated benefit to the borough of more than £25m in the past decade.

Cuffe and Taylor work hand in hand with the council-led team at Scarborough OAT. Venue manager Stuart Clark has worked on more than 90 of the 100 headline shows since 2010. “It’s a brilliant venue – a real jewel in the Yorkshire coast’s crown,” he said. “You only have to look at the calibre of artists who come here regularly to realise how well thought of Scarborough OAT is.

“It’s such a team effort to put these shows on and I cannot thank the incredible team here at the venue and Cuffe and Taylor enough. But, above all, we’d all like to thank the people of the borough and the Yorkshire coast for their incredible support of the venue down the years – and here’s to many more brilliant nights at the OAT.” 

Tickets are still available for James and Snow Patrol at scarboroughopenairtheatre.com or on 01723 81811. Gates open at 6pm each night.

Mad about the Boy: Boy George lapping up the cheers at Culture Club’s August 14 concert at Scarborough Open Air Theatre this summer . Picture: Cuffe and Taylor

Details of 100 Scarboroughian Nights

1. Gala Opening Night, 23/7/2010

2. 80’s Rewind Night, 31/7/2010

3. The Doves, 7/8/2010

4. N Dubz, 5/6/2011

5. Elton John, 21/6/2011

6. Musicport, 14/8/2011

7. Last Night Of The Proms, 28/8/2011

8. 80’s Rewind 2011, 2/9/2011

9. Dionne Warwick, 6/6/2012

10. John Barrowman, 21/6/2012

11. Olly Murs, 15/7/2012

12. Russell Watson, 4/8/2012

13. Big Night Out, 18/8/2012

14. JLS, 25/8/2012

15. Olly Murs, 6/6/2013

16. The Wanted, 13/6/2013

17. Happy Mondays, 22/6/2013

18. Leona Lewis, 12/7/2013

19. Status Quo, 27/7/2013

20. Katherine Jenkins, 3/8/2013

Ricky Wilson at Kaiser Chiefs’ gig at Scarborough Open Air Theatre on August 8 2021. Picture: Cuffe and Taylor

21. The Saturdays, 23/8/2013

22. McFly, 30/8/2013

23. Jessie J, 25/6/2014

24. McBusted, 27/6/2014

25. Last Night Of The Proms, 28/6/2014

26. Status Quo, 12/7/2014

27. Boyzone, 26/7/2014

28. Little Mix, 27.7/2014

29. Legends Of Pop 2014, 2/8/2014

30. Union J, 23/8/2014

31. James, 22/5/2015

32. Boyzone, 13/6/2015

33. The Vamps, 20/6/2015

34. Last Night Of The Proms with Alfie Boe, 27/6/2015

35. Jessie J, 10/7/2015

36. Elaine Paige and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, 11/7/2015

37. McBusted, 18/7/2015

38. Tom Jones, 29/7/2015

39. Legends Of Pop, 1/8/2015

40. UB40, 14/8/2015

Nile Rodgers & Chic performing at Scarborough Open Air Theatre on August 20 2021. Picture: Cuffe and Taylor

41. Scouting For Girls, 30/8/2015

42. Will Young, 30/6/2016

43. Status Quo, 9/7/2016

44. James Bay, 12/7/2016

45. Wet Wet Wet, 30/7/2016

46. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, 3/8/2016

47. Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, 5/8/2016

48. Legends Of Pop 2016, 6/8/2016

49. Bryan Adams, 8/8/2016

50. Simply Red, 12/8/2016

51. Busted, 2/9/2016

52. The Beach Boys, 24/5/2017

53. Kaiser Chiefs, 27/5/2017

54. The Charlatans, 16/6/2017

55. The Jacksons, 17/6/2017

56. Michael Ball and Alfie Boe, 28/6/2017

57. Cliff Richard, 29/6/2017

58. UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro, 30/6/2017

59. George Benson, 1/7/2017

60. Tom Jones, 2/7/2017

Keane caught in torrential rain at Scarborough Open Air Theatre on August 21 2021. Picture: Cuffe and Taylor

61. Little Mix, 6/7/2017

62. Olly Murs, 9/7/2017

63. Madness, 3/8/2017

64. 80s v 90s, 5/8/2017

65. Jess Glynne, 11/8/2017

66. Lionel Richie, 19/6/2018

67. The Script, 21/6/2018

68. Gary Barlow, 22/6/2017

69. Nile Rodgers & Chic, 24/6/2018

70. Steps, 29/6/2018

71. Alfie Boe, 30/6/2018

72. Emeli Sande, 5/7/2018

73. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, 6/7/2018

74. Stereophonics, 19/7/2018

75. Pete Tong Ibiza Classics, 20/7/2018

76. Il Divo, 21/7/2018

77. James Arthur, 26/7/2018

78. Bastille, 28/7/2018

79. Texas, 11/8/2018

80. Britney Spears, 17/8/2018

Anne-Marie, arms outstretched, at Scarborough Open Air Theatre’s 99th show on August 29 2021. Picture: Cuffe and Taylor

81. James, 18/8/2018

82. Hacienda Classical, 8/6/2019

83. Biffy Clyro, 14/6/2019

84. Cliff Richard, 26/6/2019

85. Years And Years, 18/7/2019

86. Madness, 19/7/2019

87. Lewis Capaldi, 20/7/2019

88. Jess Glynne, 21/7/2019

89. Kylie Minogue, 1/8/2019

90. Lewis Capaldi, 30/8/2019

91. Queen Machine, 31/8/2019

92. Stereophonics, 28/7/2021

93. Kaiser Chiefs, 8/8/2021

94. Culture Club, 14/8/2021

95. Nile Rodgers & Chic, 20/8/2021

96. Keane, 21/8/2021

97. Olly Murs, 27/8/2021

98. UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro, 28/9/2021

99. Anne-Marie, 29/8/2021

100. Courteeners, 8/9/2021

Courteeners’ Liam Fray leading tonight’s 100th concert at Scarborough Open Air Theatre. Picture: Cuffe and Taylor

‘The last thing you want at this time is something that’s depressing and heavy,’ says James bass player Jim Glennie

James took up temporary residence at Broughton Hall, near Skipton, in May. Picture: Lewis Knaggs

JAMES’S “sweet 16th” studio album has arrived, topical and timely, poignant and punchy, arty and anthemic, as their 40th year looms.

Climate change (Beautiful Beaches), Trump’s tinderbox America (Miss America) and last April’s Covid death of frontman Tim Booth’s father-in-law (Recover) all colour All The Colours Of You, the Manchester band’s first release for their new label, Virgin Music.

That “Manchester” tag is now more historic than present day, Clifford-born Booth, 61, having long moved to the United States, and onwards to Costa Rica, Central America, on December 26 last year with his family, in response to the “weekly fires” ravaging their Topanga Canyon neighbourhood.

“California’s becoming ecologicaly unsustainable,” he posted on Twitter shortly afterwards, adding a second reason: “I anticipate a wave of white racist terrorism”.

Fellow founder Jim Glennie, 57, is settled in the Scottish Highlands. He and Booth and the band came together for the recording sessions on three separate occasions, but the production was done remotely, under pandemic restrictions.

“Basically, because of Covid, there was nothing we could do about that situation, though fortunately we’d written the songs, four of us starting the first big session in July 2018,” said Jim, speaking in early May, when James gathered once more, this time at the resplendent Broughton Hall, near Skipton, to rehearse and promote the new album.

“We did some more song-writing at Sheffield Yellow Arch Studios in April 2019 and a third session at Gairloch in the Highlands in August, and those sessions gave us everything we needed in terms of demos.”

“Amazingly, we’ve come out with an album that we’re incredibly happy with, when we could have had disastrous results,” says bassist Jim Glennie of James’s All The Colours Of You

When the band could not gather for formal recording sessions, serendipity played its hands when Booth gave an impromptu lift and his two neighbourly passengers turned out to be the wife and daughter of Jacknife Lee, Grammy Award-winning producer for U2, REM and Taylor Swift no less. A new partnership of the virtual variety was born, prompting Booth to call the album’s arrival a “miraculous conception”, given “all the s**t that went down in 2020”.

“Jacknife worked remotely from his studio, liaising with me and Tim, Tim working more closely with him as they were in the same valley,” said Jim, recalling how they deconstructed, reimagined and reassembled the demos. “Amazingly, we’ve come out with an album that we’re incredibly happy with, when we could have had disastrous results.

“It’s very dancy, very uplifting, very poetic, though there are dark lyrics about Covid and American politics, but we were aware of the need for lightness, and Jacknife has added some fun and humour within the songs. The last thing you want at this time is something that’s depressing and heavy.”

All The Colours Of You stretches the ever-experimental James soundscape to take in psychedelia, post-rock and rave in “another big jump forward for us on the back of the last three albums,” as Booth put it.

“Jacknife has pushed us and the songs somewhere new and it’s very exciting,” said Jim. “After all these years, we are still challenging ourselves and our fans, with each record re-setting our perimeters, but with pride in what we’ve done before.

“I think there are a few reasons for that. We’ve always been a band with a broad spectrum of what we can be, from folk music to hardcore dance and anything in between, so we don’t have a sound that we’re boxed in by.

“We’re always conscious of that, but also we don’t feel we have to prove anything, other than reacting to what we did before, pushing it further or pushing it away from that, driving towards an unknown destination. It is those strides, that push, that still makes you feel relevant and that you still have the right to be here.”

The artwork for James’s 16th studio album, All The Colours Of You, released on June 4

Since re-uniting in 2007 after a six-year hiatus, James have, if anything, become an even more popular live act. So much so, tickets have sold faster than ever for their seven-date autumn travels, when notorious Manchester reprobates Happy Mondays will join them on the road for the first time since 1988, kicking off at Leeds First Direct Arena on November 25.  

“Hopefully, this time they won’t steal our rider or try and spike my drink,” said Booth, when announcing the double bill, for which remaining tickets are on sale at wearejames.com/live.

Before then, James will head to the East Coast to complete a hattrick of Scarborough Open Air Theatre appearances on September 9, after shows there on May 22 2015 and August 18 2018.

“We always have a great night there – even back in the days when you had to cross the old moat to get to the audience!” said Jim. “We’re looking forward to another very special night on the Yorkshire coast.”

James last played a gig in September 2019 in Porto. “It’s painful to think it was that long ago,” said Jim, whose band’s headline show at Deer Shed 11 at Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, was called off in both 2020 and now for this summer.

The reception will be louder than ever when they return at last. “I’m amazed that we’re still able to put on tours where there seems to be an exponential growth each time, with new people coming,” said Jim.

“That’s because we get a lot of play on BBC 6 Music, drawing 18-year-olds to the shows who don’t know the litany of hits.

“We don’t feel we have to prove anything, other than reacting to what we did before, pushing it further or pushing it away from that,” says James bass player Jim Glennie

“It’s a really exciting prospect to have the chance to play again. We’ve had a few false starts and cancellations, so it’s been difficult to get fully invested in it, because it could always change again, but it’s the essence of what we do, playing live, to show off the new album, trying out the new songs, and we need to get to that point again as musicians.”

The James anthems, from Sit Down to Born Of Frustration, Sometimes to She’s A Star, remain the driving force. “People like a sing-along, and those songs are the connection, the glue, that turn the night into being like a football crowd, but we take them on quite a weird ride to get to the big last blast, always leaving them sweaty, with a big smile, at the finish,” said Jim.

All The Colours Of You will be interwoven into the set list, and already James have been taking the songs to air while in residence at Broughton Hall. “We’ve come here not just to rehearse, but it was more that we needed to do other things, like doing radio sessions from here, and a couple of TV appearances that we have to film here,” said Jim, as this early May phone interview drew to a close.

“We’ve locked ourselves in a bubble, being Covid-tested before we arrived, so that we could do all the usual things we do to promote an album, but from one place. It’s a busy two weeks and you have to make the most of it.”

The band had done a session for Jo Whiley’s BBC Radio 2 a few weeks earlier.  “That was done separately, remotely, before Tim came over and went into quarantine, so he did the interview for that one from America,” said Jim.

Such have been the changes rendered on the music industry, but not everything changes. Another year, another James album, that delivers affecting songs for now, especially Beautiful Beaches and Recover.

James play Scarborough Open Air Theatre on September 9. Tickets are available at scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

James singer Tim Booth is sure to go surfing in Scarborough in September. Crowd-surfing, that is. Picture: Laura Toomer

Bryan Adams moves Scarborough Open Air Theatre July concert to the Summer of ’22

CANADIAN rocker Bryan Adams is moving his entire ten-date UK outdoor tour from 2021 to the Summer of ’22.

Next year, he will play Scarborough Open Air Theatre on July 1 and Harewood House, near Leeds, on July 10. Tickets remain valid for the new shows.

Adams, 61, will be making his second appearance at the Scarborough arena after his sold-out debut on August 8 2016. Once more, he will do Run To You, Cuts Like A Knife, Summer Of ’69, I Do It For You et al for you.

Prompted by Cuffe and Taylor, this summer’s Scarborough OAT programme bears a much-changed look, with some shows moving to later in the summer, others being put back to 2022, and late additions at the back end of the 2021 season too.

Boy George and Culture Club: Playing Scarborough Open Air Theatre on August 14

For this year’s diary, UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro, have switched from June 19 to August 28; Snow Patrol, from July 3 to September 10; Duran Duran, from July 7 to September 17; Keane, from July 9 to August 21; Olly Murs, July 10 to August 27, and Kaiser Chiefs, July 11 to August 8.

Westlife’s sold-out show retains its August 17 date; likewise, Nile Rodgers & Chic stick with August 20.

Crowded House, the Australian band re-formed by New Zealander Neil Finn, move from June 8 2021 to June 11 2022; Lionel Richie, from June 12 2021 to July 2 next summer; Ru Paul’s Drag Race: Werq The World, from June 20 to May 29; Lewis Capaldi, from July 25 to July 7. The Beach Boys’ June 20 concert this summer is yet to be rearranged.

Additions to the 2021 calendar are: Stereophonics, July 28; Culture Club, August 14; Anne-Marie, August 2, and James, September 9.

Tickets are on sale at: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.