AMERICAN jazz, blues and soul guitar virtuoso George Benson is moving this summer’s eight UK shows to June 2022, among them his only Yorkshire gig at Leeds First Direct Arena.
Tickets will remain valid for the new date of June 22 next summer after the ongoing pandemic and present restrictions on indoor events enforced the decision.
Benson, 78, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will perform his greatest hits with his band, such as Give Me The Night, Lady Love Me (One More Time), Turn Your Love Around, Inside Love, Never Give Up On A Good Thing and In Your Eyes.
Benson’s latest album, Weekend In London, was recorded at his 2019 performance at the 250-seat Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, almost half a century since he played the London club as the hottest property on the American jazz scene of the early 1970s.
Honoured by the National Endowment of the Arts as a Jazz Master, Benson has won ten Grammy awards: Record of the Year for This Masquerade (1977); Best Pop Instrumental Performance for Breezin’ (1977) and Mornin’ (2007); Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for On Broadway (1979) and Give Me the Night (1981), and Best R&B Instrumental Performance for Theme From Good King Bad (1977) and Off Broadway (1981).
Benson summed up his musical evolution neatly in his 2014 autobiography: “…from blues cat to blues-jazz cat…from blues-jazz cat to jazz cat…from jazz cat to soul-jazz cat…and from soul-jazz cat to R&B-jazz cat.”
Tickets for June 22 2022 are available from ticketline.co.uk or on 0844 888 9991.
SIMPLY Red’s UK and Ireland tour, first planned for 2020, is moving to February 2022 with three Yorkshire gigs among the 17 dates.
Mick Hucknall’s Manchester soul band will play Hull Bonus Arena on February 4 and 5 and Leeds First Direct Arena on February 9.
Hucknall, 60, longs for a return to the stage after the pandemic-enforced hiatus. “I’ve spent most of my life going out and singing for people, so it feels strange not to have that,” he says. “I miss being able to express myself. It’s going to be wonderfully inspiring when people can go and see bands again. I can’t wait.”
Simply Red, whose last album release was Blue Eyed Soul in November 2019, are sure to revisit such hits as Money’s Too Tight To Mention, Holding Back The Years, Stars and Fairground.
Hucknall has been Simply Red’s songwriter and bandleader since their formation in 1985, aided by long-serving saxophonist Ian Kirkham since 1986. The present line-up has remained consistent since 2003, and the new tour will play to their core strengths.
“I want them to enjoy playing, for crowds to get up and move around, and everybody to put their heart into it. It’s all about capturing the groove,” says Hucknall.
South London soul singer and actress Mica Paris will be the special guest on all dates. Tickets are on sale at myticket.co.uk/artists/simply-red
JAMES are to release their “sweet 16th” studio album, All The Colours Of You, on June 4.
Billed as a “miraculous conception” by Clifford-born frontman Tim Booth, it was recorded in part before the Covid pandemic struck, with the Grammy award-winning Jacknife Lee on production duties with the Manchester band for the first time.
Lee has been at the desk previously for U2, REM, Taylor Swift, Snow Patrol and The Killers, and has brought a fresh approach to James’s sound. Working remotely from his studio, he liaised with vocalist Booth, his neighbour in Topanga Canyon, California, and bassist Jim Glennie, reimagining their demos and capturing the band in all their virtual glory.
“The result is a record with the most arena-ready and fresh tracks of their 38-year career; the sound of one of Britain’s best bands deconstructed and reassembled by one of the world’s most renowned producers,” proclaims the press release.
Booth says: “With all the s**t that went down in 2020, this was a miraculous conception and another big jump forward for us on the back of the last three albums. I hope it reflects the colours of these crazy times. Sweet sixteen is a proper album, no fillers and is up there with our best. With love, Tim.”
Glennie is pleased, proud and surprised by the record in equal measure. “Jacknife has pushed us and the songs somewhere new and it’s very exciting,” he says. “After all these years, we are still challenging ourselves and our fans. Enjoy.”
All The Colours Of You follows last December’s release of Live In Extraordinary Times, a live double album and DVD with a title twist on their 2018 studio set, Living In Extraordinary Times.
“As requested by many lovers of the band – a live DVD and album to capture the spirit of the gigs of the last few years,” said Booth at the time. “Hopefully, this will help us through the long nights of lockdown – reliving these gatherings of intimacy and passion. Thank you for coming along for the ride in the crazy world of James.”
All The Colours Of You will be James’s first album since being signed by joint managing directors Jim Chancellor and Mike Roe to Virgin Music Label & Artists Services, formerly Caroline International.
They have a new publishing home too in Kobalt Music, these changes “reinforcing the endless and restless ambition they have” as they approach their fourth decade as a band.
The track listing will be: ZERO; All The Colours Of You; Recover; Beautiful Beaches; Wherever It Takes Us; Hush; Miss America; Getting Myself Into; Magic Bus; Isabella and XYST.
From the first line on ZERO – “We’re all gonna die” – Booth addresses difficult subjects throughout the 11 tracks, with themes ranging from politics and climate change to dealing with the loss of a loved one during the pandemic.
Miss America examines that disunited country’s tarnished image through the eyes of a beauty pageant (“Miss America’s wearing thin, she’s all tiaras and glamour”), while Beautiful Beaches focuses on the fires that ravished California and follows a vision Booth had of an earthquake that caused his family to flee for refuge (“That life we left behind, we’re racing down to those beautiful beaches”).
The title-track first single tackles the Trump years head on. Based in the USA for many years, Booth, 61, has witnessed at first hand the divisiveness and hatred stoked by the former President. Highlighting the sharp rise of white supremacy during Trump’s four years in office, the song nevertheless ultimately offers hope of a new and brighter future with the refrain “Love all the colours, all the colours of you”.
Recover, the album’s most poignant and delicate song, deals with the death of Tim’s father-in-law from Covid-19 in the UK. Uplifting and joyful in honouring a loved one’s legacy and spirit, it offers a celebration of life, not the sadness of death, affirming that “We will remember how to pass your spirit on”.
All The Colours Of You will be available in myriad formats: standard CD; D2C deluxe CD with bonus artwork, photos and pictures in a DVD hardback book package; standard LP; D2C deluxe LP on swirl coloured vinyl; D2C deluxe LP on picture-disc vinyl; indies and HMV deluxe LP on multi-coloured vinyl and even on cassette. Pre-orders can be made at: https://james.lnk.to/AllTheColoursOfYouSo.
James will open their seven-date 2021 tour at Leeds First Direct Arena on November 25, supported by fellow Manchester maverick institution Happy Mondays. “Soo looking forward to seeing you,” said Booth, when announcing the gigs last November on Twitter and at wearejames.com. “We’re playing with the brilliant Happy Mondays. Last played with them in 1988, hopefully this time they won’t steal our rider or try and spike my drink…”
The tour has sold faster than any previous James tour, chalking up 60,000 ticket sales for shows in Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Dublin, Manchester and London. Remaining tickets are available at: https://wearejames.com/live/
In the summer, James will headline the Saturday bill at Deer Shed Festival 11, confirmed to run from July 30 to August 1 at Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, near Thirsk. “In light of the recent Government unlocking roadmap, we are now working flat out to bring you an amazing festival,” say the festival team, led by director Oliver Jones.
“We will bring you the maximum possible fun in July and that currently looks like a full fat Deer Shed 11. The safety of everyone in attendance will always come first, and should circumstances change, none of our audience will lose out.” Tickets are available at https://www.deershedfestival.com/tickets/.
JAMES will open their 2021 winter tour at Leeds First Direct Arena on November 25, supported by fellow Manchester institution Happy Mondays.
“Feels like a new dawn to trumpet a celebratory tour, a week after the first news of hope,” said Clifford-raised frontman Tim Booth on Twitter. ”Soo looking forward to seeing you.
“We’re playing with the brilliant Happy Mondays. Last played with them in 1988, hopefully this time they won’t steal our rider or try and spike my drink…”
James announced their seven-date itinerary on official website wearejames.com. “Lockdown greetings to one and all. In these extraordinary times, obviously our traditional winter tour won’t be possible, but let’s set a date for this time next year so we in Jamesland collectively have something to look forward to!” it stated.
“With that in mind, you’re cordially invited to our 2021 winter tour of the UK and Ireland, joined by very special guests and fellow Mancunian mavericks, Happy Mondays.”
Welcoming Shaun Ryder’s Madchester icons aboard, bassist Jim Glennie said: “True Manchester legends and old band buddies, it will be an honour to have them as our very special guests. Make sure you get your tickets for an exceptional double bill of fun and fantastic music.”
Pre-sale tickets go on sale at 9.30am tomorrow (18/11/2020); remaining tickets will be on general sale from 9.30am on Friday with more details on the Live page at wearejames.com.
The website also trailered “thrilling whispers on the new music front”: “Springtime 2021 there’s a brand new James studio album due – our sweet sixteenth! – currently entitled All The Colours Of You. Much more of that to come, shouted from the rooftops, in due time!”
The message concluded: “Hopefully this newsflash has brightened a dreary day with thoughts of winter singalongs to come and a year full of new music. Of course, you can still order our forthcoming live album and DVD if you can’t wait for your James fix! Stay warm and well X.”
The aforementioned live album and DVD, Live In Extraordinary Times – a title twist on their 2018 studio set Living In Extraordinary Times – will be released on December 11.
“You asked (okay – pleaded, pestered, perhaps even profaned) and finally we’ve delivered,” the website proclaimed. “A new live double album and DVD! Including a beautiful photo-book set, as well as coloured vinyl, double deluxe CD, signed prints (get in early!), T-shirts, the full works.”
Booth, 60, commented: “As requested by many lovers of the band – a live DVD and album to capture the spirit of the gigs of the last few years. Hopefully, this will help us through the long nights of lockdown – reliving these gatherings of intimacy and passion. Thank you for coming along for the ride in the crazy world of James.”
The website bulletin went on: “In a year feeling anything but ordinary, this special collection reminds us of the power and connection of live music.
“Released just in time for St Nick to get his hands on it for you…11th December 2020. Sorry we can’t put on one of our traditional winter tours to warm your quarantined cockles but hopefully this is the next best thing.”
In the meantime, bask in the memory of James shows of recent Yorkshire times – Leeds First Direct Arena, Scarborough Open Air Theatre and the night in March 2019 when fighting broke out at Hull Bonus Arena – as you dance just like Fred Astaire until next winter’s tour.
SHED Seven are to release a live album on December 4 after a frustrating summer of Covid-cancelled gigs.
Specially curated by the York Britpop luminaries and available exclusively through the Sheds’ store, Another Night, Another Town “captures their dynamic live performances and anthemic songs over 21 tracks”.
As trailed on the shedseven.com website, Shed followers can pick up a limited-edition coloured gatefold vinyl edition, a special double CD set, a 180g heavyweight triple vinyl version and a download, plus a selection of new merchandise.
From this week, you can pre-order a signed copy to download album opener Room In My House and Ocean Pie now.
“A few words” from frontman Rick Witter accompany the announcement: “When it became clear virtually no live events would be taking place this year and with no Shedcember [December tour] to look forward to, we thought it was a good time to go through recordings from our 2019 [Shedcember] tour and 2018 Castlefield Bowl show [in Manchester] to curate the best live album we could.
“From 10,000 people singing along to Chasing Rainbows at Leeds Arena to playing the classic outro of I Am The Resurrection in the home of the Stone Roses, this 21-track album features the best from our live shows over the last couple of years.”
The live album has been mixed by Chris Sheldon, who produced the Sheds’ 1996 album A Maximum High and 1999 single Disco Down (whose lyrics have been raided for the ‘Another Night, Another Town’ title).
“We’re delighted with the results, which we think are as close as we can get to capturing the Shed Seven live experience on record,” continues Rick, 47. “We haven’t released a live album since we returned as a five-piece in 2007 and we certainly haven’t released one as good as this!
“We hope this album provides just a little bit of the live experience we’re all missing before we return in 2021.”
Another Night, Another Town will be Shed Seven’s fifth “live” album after Where Have You Been Tonight? Live, in 2003; Live At The BBC, in 2007; See Youse At The Barras: Live In Concert, 2009, and Live At Leeds 2007, digital download only, in 2009.
The track listing will be: Room In My House; Mark; Where Have You Been Tonight?; People Will Talk; Devil In Your Shoes; Butterfly On A Wheel; She Left Me On Friday/I Am The Resurrection; Better Days; On Standby; It’s Not Easy; Getting Better; Enemies And Friends; Ocean Pie; Dolphin; High Hopes; Disco Down; Bully Boy; Going For Gold; Parallel Lines; Invincible and Chasing Rainbows.
The Sheds should have been playing in the open air at The Piece Hall, Halifax, on September 19, but as with this summer’s post-racing concert at Doncaster Racecourse on August 15, preceded by Witter and guitarist Paul Banks’s acoustic set at Pocklington Arts Centre’s Platform Festival at The Old Station on July 11, Covid-19 intervened.
However, Shed Seven’s diary for outdoor engagements in 2021 is taking shape: Don 21 Music Live, Doncaster Racecourse, May 15; Neighbourhood Festival, London, May 29; Isle of Wight Festival, Newport, June 18; The Piece Hall, Halifax, June 26; Corbridge Festival, July 3; Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Beaufort, July 31, and Watchet Music Festival, Somerset, August 29.
Meanwhile, The Piece Hall has added Nile Rodgers & Chic to next summer’s concert list, booked in for June 18 with Liverpool soul singer Rebecca Ferguson as the support act. Tickets will go on sale at 10am on Friday at www.seetickets.com and www.lunatickets.co.uk
Review: Michael Ball and Alfie Boe, Back Together, Leeds First Direct Arena, February 25
INDEPENDENTLY, Michael Ball and Alfie Boe are two of the biggest entertainment draws. Together they are a phenomenon.
Three mega-selling albums, imaginatively named Together (2016), Together Again (2017) and Back Together (2019), have established the pair as the UK’s absolute best-selling act of physical CDs.
Regulars of the Leeds First Direct Arena, Messrs Ball and Boe are just so comfortable in their complimentary talents and know exactly how to pick a set list that will enthral their very loyal audience.
Almost predictably, kicking off with a rousing version of The Greatest Show, from the Hugh Jackman film soundtrack, Ball and Boe present consummate covers of famous duets I Knew You Were Waiting For Me (Aretha Franklin and George Michael) and Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart (Marc Almond and Gene Pitney).
Other well-chosen covers include Army (The Shires), Labi Siffre’s (Something Inside) So Strong and, most convincingly, John Farnham’s anthem You’re The Voice.
Individually, Ball covered Anthem from Benny, Bjorn and Tim Rice’s Chess while Boe stole the show with his emotive cover of Snow Patrol’s Run, which gave the audience a chance to wave phone torches in the air. What fun!
Of course, Michael and Alfie had to showcase the very best of musical theatre, including Sunrise, Sunset (Fiddler On The Roof) and surprisingly Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again (Christine’s solo from The Phantom Of The Opera).
Hot from their historic engagement for Les Miserables – The Staged Concert, overjoyed fans were treated to Stars, Bring Him Home and One Day More, which felt as if this was the climax of last night’s concert.
This was not the case as the orchestra and choir then launched into a Lion King Medley and a trio of Queen songs, two very fine Freddie Mercury songs, Who Wants to Live Forever and The Show Must Go On, and one of Freddie’s off moments, Friends Will Be Friends. Never mind.
An encore of Paul Anka’s My Way would have kept the audience happy. However, the surprise of the evening was the Grease Mega Mix: Grease, Greased Lightnin’, You’re The One That I Want and We Go Together. Everyone left elated!
CHART-TOPPING duo Michael Ball and Alfie Boe will play Leeds First
Direct Arena on February 25 on their Back Together tour.
The singing double act will be on an arena tour from February 22 to
March 7 for ten dates in the wake of the November 2019 release of their third
album, Back Together, on Decca Records.
The album of duets features The Greatest Show; Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again; Sunrise, Sunset; Circle Of Life; Come Fly With Me; Queen Medley; My Way; Something Inside So Strong; I Will Always Believe; Let It Be Me; Somethings Gotten Hold Of My Heart; Army and Brothers In Arms.
Back Together follows the success of Ball and Boe’s debut, Together, Britain’s best-selling album of 2016, and 2017 number one Together Again, the latest addition peaking at number two in the charts en route to achieving gold sales.
After decorated careers in theatre and opera, Ball and Boe have sold more than one million albums in the UK, received two Classic BRIT awards and presented two ITV specials.
Last August Ball and Boe returned to Boublil and Schoenberg’s musical Les
Miserables for a 16-week run at the Gielgud Theatre, London.
For ticket availability for February 25, go to firstdirectarena.com/events/.