OFF: York Festival cancelled. OFF TOO: Scarborough Open Air Theatre season shut

Goodbye, not Hello: Lionel Richie’s York Festival and Scarborough Open Air Theatre concerts have been cancelled

THE inaugural York Festival with Lionel Richie, Madness and Westlife in June is off.  The entire Scarborough Open Air Theatre summer season has been cancelled too.

The “unavoidable” double blow for promoters Cuffe and Taylor was confirmed in a brief statement at high noon, enforced by the grip of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“We are sad to announce both York Festival and the 2020 programme at Scarborough Open Air Theatre will not go ahead,” they said. “We did not want to take this step, but it was unavoidable. The health and safety of concertgoers, artists, staff and community will always be our top priority.

Grey Day for Madness: no House Of Fun after all at York Festival on June 19

“We are working with our ticketing partners and they will contact customers very soon to process refunds. Peace, love, kindness and thanks.”

So, alas, this means goodbye to Hello and Lionel Richie at York Sports Club, Clifton Park, Shipton Road, on June 21, when the American soul legend, now 70, would have been supported by Grammy Award winner Macy Gray and Newcastle soul-pop duo Lighthouse Family.

Camden Town nutty boys Madness were to have headlined the opening night, June 19, joined by Ian Broudie’s Lightning SeedsCraig Charles, for a Funk and Soul Club DJ set, Leeds indie rockers Apollo Junction and York band Violet Contours.

Westlife: York and Scarborough shows grounded without wings

Irish matured boy band Westlife were booked to top the June 21 bill, backed up All Saints, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Scouting For Girls and Take That’s Howard Donald for a DJ set.

Over on the East Coast, Cuffe and Taylor had lined up big hitters galore for Scarborough Open Air Theatre’s 2020 season, opening with Lionel Richie on June 9, followed by Westlife on June 17.

Further bookings were: Supergrass, June 20; Alfie Boe, June 27; Snow Patrol, July 4; Mixtape, with Marc Almond, Heaven 17 and Living In A Box featuring Kenny Thomas, July 10; Keane, July 17; Little Mix, July 21; McFly, August 14; Louis Tomlinson, August 15, and Nile Rodgers & Chic, August 21. What’s more, further shows were to have been added. Not any more.

Leopard king: Rod Stewart at York Racecourse last June, promoted by Cuffe and Taylor

Last year, Cuffe and Taylor promoted Rod Stewart’s first ever York concert, erecting a pop-up amphitheatre in the centre of York Racecourse and duly drawing 35,000 people to Knavesmire on June 1. Ah, those were the days.

Earlier this spring, Cuffe and Taylor were given the City of York Council thumbs-up for a licence for their first York Festival, albeit with the proviso that the volume must be turned down. Now, there will only be silence.

Lionel Richie says Hello to Macy Gray and Lighthouse Family for York Festival bill

Lionel Richie: headlining York Festival’s Sunday line-up

MACY Gray and Lighthouse Family are big-name new additions to the bill for Lionel Richie’s closing night at this summer’s inaugural York Festival.

Grammy Award winner Gray, from Canton, Ohio, and Newcastle pop-soul duo Tunde Baiyewu and Paul Tucker will perform at the three-day event at York Sports Club, Clifton Park, Shipton Road, on June 21.

This is more good news for festival promoters Cuffe and Taylor after the City of York Council thumbs-up for a licence, albeit with the proviso that the volume must be turned down.

York Festival will run from June 19 to 21, with Camden Town nutty boys Madness headlining on the first night and Irish matured boy band Westlife on the Saturday, before American soul legend Lionel Richie says Hello on the Sunday.

Macy Gray: Sunday new addition

Macy Gray made her breakthrough in 1999 with the single I Try and the seven million-selling debut album On How Life Is, her American R&B and soul song-writing inspired principally by Billie Holiday.

Over the next two decades, Gray released ten studio albums, the latest being 2018’s Ruby, as well as featuring on songs with Dolly Parton and Ariana Grande and appearing in films and on TV shows.

Lighthouse Family singer Baiyewu and keyboardist Tucker released their first single, Lifted, in 1995, en route to selling ten million albums and charting with the singles High and Ocean Drive.

Six-times platinum debut album Ocean Drive was followed by Top Ten albums Postcards From Heaven and Whatever Gets You Through The Day. After an 18-year hiatus, the duo reunited last year to record Blue Sky In Your Head, their fourth studio set.

Lighthouse Family: reunited

York Festival director Peter Taylor says: “We’re delighted to add both Macy Gray and Lighthouse Family to our debut line-up. Together with the global icon that is Lionel Richie, this is going to be an amazing and unforgettable night.”

Opening-night headliners Madness will be joined by Ian Broudie’s Lightning Seeds, Craig Charles, for a Funk and Soul Club DJ set, Leeds indie rockers Apollo Junction and York band Violet Contours.

Westlife’s Saturday line-up features All Saints, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Scouting For Girls and Take That’s Howard Donald for a DJ set.

For more information and tickets, go to york-festival.com.