Passion drives football convert Sue Clayton’s portrait project marking York City’s centenary as promotion is clinched

Sue Clayton’s portrait of Michael Miles, creator of the Y-Front fanzine, whose conversation with Sue on a park bench led to her York City centenary project

IT began with a chance conversation on a Museum Gardens bench on a summer’s day.

It ended with 140 portraits by a Wigginton artist from a family of football haters who became a season ticket holder, cheering on York City at the LNER Community Stadium as promotion to the National League was clinched last Saturday.

Sue Clayton’s portraits will be revealed en masse on Saturday at the York City Football Club Fans’ Centenary Celebration at  Cliffe Village Institute, near Selby, where Bubwith-born club legend Chris Topping (463 appearances,1968-1978) will perform the opening ceremony at the 10am to 4pm event.

A3 prints of the entire collection will be available for the first time at the celebration: mounted and ready to pop into a frame for £25 each or £40 for a framed version.  

Wigginton artist and York City supporter Sue Clayton with her 140 portraits

“This year-long project came about from having a chat last year with Michael Miles, a lifelong York City fan who creates the Y-Front fanzine,” says Sue. “The passion Michael showed for his club captured my attention: it was one of those conversations where someone’s passion for something sparks your own interest to listen to them. 

“I suggested I should paint a few fan portraits. Then, when he mentioned it would be the club’s centenary this year, I realised a new art project was germinating in my mind and I was fizzing with creativity.”

At first, Sue anticipated painting maybe ten portraits from the photographs and stories sent to her. Instead, the project grew and grew, not even stopping at 100 paintings to mark 100 years.

“It was so strange really, a total perseverance on my behalf, with many 3am finishes,” she says. “In reality it may have been prudent to stop when I reached 100 but I still had images I wanted to paint; I wanted to do the fans justice.”

Baby: Sue Clayton’s painting of York City’s “youngest supporter”

Each 30cm square in size, the portraits span multiple media, from watercolours to oils, acrylics to charcoal, pencil to collage. “In the collection, there are brides, babies, fans pictured in celebration sadly no longer with us, sisters, dads and sons, friendships…the full range of life in all its glorious forms,” says Sue, who is now adding former players to her portrait portfolio.

She is drawn to “painting portraits of people whose stories I want to tell”, such as her exhibition of children and young adults with Down Syndrome, entitled 21, on display in the Tent of Hope at the NHS York Vaccination Centre at Askham Bar, York, last  May and June.

“I’m equally passionate about making art accessible to all and love the concept of art meeting football,” she says. “A wonderful year-long journey has led me to the fantastic warmth of the fan community. From knowing so little about football, my son James and I are now fully signed-up season ticket holders roaring with the crowds on the terraces, culminating in the amazing play-off final last weekend.”  

Sue believes passion creates the best portraits. “As an artist, I was on a roll with this project and became very quickly immersed within it. The range and scope of the photos sent in could let my imagination free, and it enabled me to paint such a range of ages within the series,” she says.

Match of the day at Bootham Crescent: A newly married couple at York City’s former ground, as painted by Sue Clayton

“From a sitter’s perspective, I think the fan in the act of celebrating, oblivious to all, just consumed with joy, is really delicious to paint.  Equally, the moment capturing a fan watching the team intensely, apprehension etched on their face tells a great story.”

Saturday’s celebration is taking place at Cliffe on account of Michael Miles living there. “There’s quite a gathering of fans in the village, who call themselves ‘The Cliffe Minstermen’,” says Sue.

“Michael was eager to create an event just for the fans. The response has been phenomenal, with offers of help, sponsorship from the fans and fabulous raffle prizes donated. It’s a perfect chance to gather and celebrate not just the centenary but last week’s victory to go up a division.”

Look out for Jack Radcliffe’s match reports from the 2021-2022 season, on full display on Saturday. “Jack, who, like my son James, has Down Syndrome, has captured the hearts of the team, in particular goalie Pete Jameson, and the fans too,” says Sue. “His match reports are superb with such honesty and integrity.  He led the team on to the pitch for the final game and did the lap of honour with them.”

The poster for Saturday’s York City FC Fans’ Centenary Celebration

“Football-type” food and drink will be available; a colouring competition for children promises fabulous prizes, and the raffle prizes will range from football kits and signed footballs, to a portrait commission from Sue and signed lyrics from Shed Seven’s Rick Witter for the club’s terrace anthem, Chasing City Rainbows.

The legacy of Sue’s portraits will build. “Work will begin soon on a book about the portrait project and some of the wonderful stories behind the faces,” she says. “I believe so strongly that these stories should not be lost and want them to be part of the archives for the club’s centenary.

“The portraits will form a large art installation inside the fanzone at the LNER Community Stadium later in the year as a permanent feature, and the Give It A Go Joe drama group has expressed an interest in developing these stories further to create some community theatre. Not bad from a chat on a park bench, eh?!”

As for the future of the original portraits, “some will go on display in York Hospital, and I would dearly love to show them again in their entirety in York centre before the collection will be broken up at the end of the year.  If any galleries, museums or community spaces are interested, I would love to hear from them via sueclaytonart@gmail.com.”

CharlesHutchPress has a hatful of questions for artist Sue Clayton

That winning feeling: Portrait artist Sue Clayton, her son James, 20, and daughter Lily, 17, celebrate York City’s promotion-clinching victory over Boston United last Saturday

Just how exciting was last Saturday’s play-off final?

“OH my!!  Fab-u-lous!!  I was already in bits when Jack [Radcliffe] led out the players to start the game.  What a superstar Jack is and a great ambassador for the club.  When that second goal went in, it was just amazing! 

“The feeling of ‘we’ve got this…we’ve really got this’!   Y-Front fanzine editor Michael Miles said he’d worked out he’d been supporting York for 34 years with three promotions; James and I come along and we’re promoted in our first year!  Who knows what next season will bring at this rate!”

Were the stories you were sent as important as the photographs you transformed into portraits?

“Often the stories came after the photos were sent. I can’t say they directly informed my paintings but I did have a wry smile on my face with some as fans had told me some of their escapades. 

Sue Clayton’s portrait of York City supporter Phil, “painted in blue and yellow as a testament to his daily posts on Twitter as he worked as a teacher in Ukraine”

“The one portrait that did affect me profoundly was the painting of Phil, the fan who was working as a teacher in Ukraine. His daily posts on Twitter, sharing the terror of the situation, haunted me. His portrait is painted in blue and yellow as a testament to this time.

“I’m hoping that more anecdotes and tales will emerge at Saturday’s event as the fans see the whole collection. There will be a book there to write down any memories and I will be interviewing fans as my next mini-project to get those stories down before they are lost.”  

How did you settle on the 30cm square size and the wide range of materials for the portraits? 

“I decided on the 30cm square format as I knew there would be a lot of paintings.  I like a square, I feel it’s more contemporary and I always feel it works well if I want to closely crop an image and focus in on the action of the face. 

City Till We Die: Sisters show their colours in Sue Clayton’s painting

“I’ve used a wide range of mediums because that’s me, I suppose!  I enjoy the luscious butteryness of oils, the quick drying and layering of acrylics and the wonderful flow of watercolours. Spoilt for choice!

“I did worry that the whole collection might not adhere to one particular style: would people realise they were all by the same artist?  It’s often advised to pursue a particular style so that your work is recognisable, but I’ve long decided to just do ‘me’ and try not to play to any rules.”

Last year, when announcing this project in CharlesHutchPress, you said you were “not a follower of football myself”. Earlier this month, you told the Yorkshire Post: “I grew up in a football-hating family, never watched football and we were the least sporting family going.” How come you have caught the York City bug, along with James, both becoming season ticket holders? 

“Well, obviously I didn’t know what I was missing!  Initially, I suppose I went for a bit of research to find out what it was all about.  I soon became caught up with the match; it was a glorious day and the season had just begun. Having a season ticket meant I saw the same faces each match; a smile and a nod to other fans led on to conversations and before you know it ,you are part of a community.

Sue Clayton’s portrait of former York City defender Chris Topping, a promotion winner in 1971 and 1974, who will open Saturday’s centenary fan celebration at Cliffe Village Institute

“It’s not just the game of football, it’s the fans, the people who work with the team, the stadium, the traditions.  It has also become a chance to share something special with James.”  

Saturday’s centenary event carries the promise of “full football-type food and drink”. What represents such delights to you?!

“The warm smell of a fresh pie wafting by as the fans make their way to the seats (I have got to say, I have never tasted anything so good as the pie in Bromley!)  I notice quite a few fans still like their Bovril. 

“For the event on Saturday, the lads have arranged local pies, pasties, sausage rolls and peas. There’ll also be a curry or chilli and chips.”

York City cult hero Richard Brodie, bustling centre forward in the 2007-2010 seasons and for a 2016-2017 second coming, nicknamed Angel of the North on account of his arms-outstretched goal celebration. “Such a lovely chap, and he’s still passionate about City,” says Sue

How come Rick Witter is donating his Chasing City Rainbows lyrics to Saturday’s celebration?

“Shed Seven’s Chasing Rainbows was adopted as York City’s song when it came out in 1996 and was sung on the terraces by City fans.  It can be heard at most matches.  Rick has kindly supported Saturday’s raffle for the fans by sending in a hand-written, reworded version for the fans to now say ‘Chasing City Rainbows’. A lovely collector’s piece for both City fans and music fans.”

How will the portrait book project progress?

“The book is still an embryo of an idea but it will happen!  I’d love for all the images to be recorded in one book alongside the fans’ stories.  I kind of feel it is my duty to record this project, so that it’s not forgotten, archived away for future fans, along with the stories.  My daughter Lily is a passionate reader and writer, so this will be a joint project with her.”

Iain Dunn, York City winger (1988-1991) turned matchday summariser for BBC Radio York, portrayed in City red and blue by Sue Clayton

When will your portrait  installation be in place at the LNER Community Stadium?

“No date as yet, as I have only just finished painting them.  Talks will begin soon to get the ball in motion.” 

What will be your next project?

“The book – a new, uncharted territory for me.  I’ll also work on a range of portraits of ex- players. There’s a wonderful network out there; fans are loyal and never forget their heroes, so I think it’s time to honour them. 

“But hey, who knows? I might find myself chatting to someone on a park bench again and that spark of an idea begins again. It certainly opened up a whole new exciting challenge for me last time.”

A poster collage of Sue Clayton’s portraits

Witter on to a winner as Shed Seven play Doncaster Racecourse on Saturday night

Seven races and Shed Seven: Saturday evening’s double bill of the sport of kings and live music at Doncaster Racecourse

RICK Witter has never been to a racecourse, let alone fronted Shed Seven in a post-racing gig.

That changes on Saturday when the York band come under starter’s orders for a Live After Racing set at Doncaster Racecourse’s evening meeting.

“Weirdly, I’ve never been to York Races…though I have seen the fall-out afterwards! People dressed to the nines weaving their way back to the city-centre,” says Rick. 

“From memory, we’ve never done a racecourse gig, but it was literally as simple as Live At The Races, who put on these shows, asking us if we wanted to play Doncaster. They asked us in 2019, and it’s now third time lucky after what happened because of Covid.”

The Sheds suffered two false starts, first when their original August 2020 booking and then their rearranged May 2021 date had to be declared non-runners under the Government’s pandemic lockdown restrictions.

Rick cannot wait for Saturday’s kick-start to a summer diary full of outdoor Shed Seven performances. “The gates open at 2.45pm, the first race is at 5.15, the last one at 8.40, and we’ll be on at around 9.30, so everyone could be smashed by then! It looks like it’ll be a messy night!” he says.

The Sheds will be playing myriad festivals, seven in total, from Sign Of The Times at Hatfield to Kubix Festival at New Herrington; Tramlines in Sheffield to Belladrum Tartan Heart at Inverness; Camp Bestival in Dorset and Shropshire to Camper Calling in Alcester.

Where’s New Herrington, Rick? “It’s a good question! I’ve no idea, but I know I’ll get a ride there and sing some songs!” he says, as County Durham  awaits.

“We’re all over the country this summer. Every second year we tend to do our Shedcember tours, playing loads of shows in four of five weeks, but with festivals, you play over a weekend, have a few days to recover, then we’re ready for the next weekend.”

Not only festivals are in the Shed Seven diary for 2022. So too are recording sessions for the follow-up to their November 2017 “comeback” album, Instant Pleasures. “That one took us 16 years between albums [since 2001’s Truth Be Told], so if we could do the next one in six, we would be taking ten years off the gap,” says Rick.

“If we want to release it in September next year, everything has to be ready nine months before that these days, so we’ll have to crack on. We’ll be hammering away on that over the summer.

“We have four or five songs written already, so we’re getting towards halfway, and we’re working again with John Dawkins, who oversaw Instant Pleasures. Everything’s being put in place, but we probably won’t go abroad for the recording sessions this time. We’ll go to a residential British studio.”

Can Rick reveal any song titles yet? “The one that I’m enjoying the most is called Kissing California,” he says. “Weirdly, the lyrics I’m coming out with at the moment – and it must be subconscious – are about going somewhere, because for a while we couldn’t do that, could we, so Kissing California is a three-and-a-quarter-minute pop song spent travelling with the one you love.”

Shed Seven played three American concerts at the maximum high of their Britpop-era success, New York and San Francisco being among the locations, but the third one escaping Rick’s immediate recollection. “It’s a strange experience because you just go over there, just play the gig and move on to the next one, and that’s it,” he says.

“It looks like it’ll be a messy night!” says Rick Witter, centre, ahead of Shed Seven’s Live After Racing gig

“When we did go back, the record company flew us over just to photograph the artwork for Let It Ride in 1998, stopping off in Reno and Las Vegas and driving through Death Valley to film us, and giving us money to buy clothes. But no gigs! That wouldn’t happen now. They’d just photo-shop it!”

Thoughts turn back to racecourse gigs. If you are surprised that Shed Seven have never played their home-city track, Rick is even more so. “The fact that we b****y live here, it gets to the point, after so many years of not being asked, where you think, ‘is there any reason for it?’, ” he wonders. 

“But I would love to put a Shed Seven headline gig on the Knavesmire with loads of supporting acts, and that would take precedence now. We also need to play the new Community Stadium. It looks really good – and I’m following York City’s fortunes.”

Come Saturday, might the Sheds be tempted to do a cover version with a horse theme? Maybe The Byrds’ Chestnut Mare? Perhaps The Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses? Or how about the left-field screeching guitar rock of The Osmonds’ Crazy Horses?

“You might be on to something there! You could really make something of that Osmonds’ sound, but Wild Horses is beautiful, and Chestnut Mare is one of my favourite Byrds’ songs,” says Rick.

“Isn’t that the one about a man marrying his horse?” Well, Roger McGuinn’s lyric does say, “And we’ll be friends for life, she’ll be just like a wife”.

Anyway, back to The Osmonds. “At some point in the future, if we end up doing it, don’t come running for your ten per cent!” says Rick.

On a racing weekend when he will be chasing winners as much as Chasing Rainbows, he is already on a winning streak. “Did you watch it on Saturday night?” he asks? What? “I was on Pointless Celebrities.”

Did you win? “Yes we romped it at the end, me and Mark Morriss, from The Bluetones. We got the pointless score for charity. Mark picked three Jude Law films that got pointless scores as he’s a film buff…or he’s just some kind of mental case that stores information!” says Rick.

To book for Saturday, go to: doncaster-racecourse.co.uk/whats-on/music-live-featuring-shed-seven.

Copyright of The Press, York

An evening at the races: Shed Seven on course for Doncaster

Rick Witter and Paul Banks to play Easter weekend gigs in Barnsley and Scarborough. Expect Shed Seven faves and surprises

RICK Witter and Paul Banks are “going where no Shed has gone before” to play Easter weekend gigs in Barnsley and Scarborough.

Mr H Presents promoter Tim Hornsby has booked the Shed Seven singer and lead guitarist for Birdwell Venue, Barnsley, on April 16 at 7pm and Scarborough Spa Theatre for April 17 at 7.30pm. “Special nights of classic Shed Seven material and a few surprises” are promised.

“Fresh from yet another Shedcember of sold-out shows, and long after the NME darlings have faded away, the mighty Shed Seven are still packing huge venues, and why ever not,” says Mr H. “Since when did b****y great big tunes, consummate musicianship and fabulous shows ever go out of fashion?

“And so we welcome the thinnest man in pop with the biggest voice and the warmest personality, Mr Rick Witter; the witty and urbane frontman of a band that, lest we forget, once rivalled Oasis for Top 20 hits.

“Joined here for the first time in Barnsley and Scarborough by partner-in-crime, the brilliant guitarist and eloquent songwriter Paul Banks, an electrifying showman in his own right and a player with an instantly recognisable style and sound.”

Pre-sales open on Wednesday at https://bit.ly/3GVsTGWand https://bit.ly/RickWitterPaulBanksAcoustic; general tickets go on sale on Friday. “You already know these whites-of-their-eyes shows are going to sell out, so don’t get bothered with the regular unholy last-minute scramble for tickets and purchase early for a holler-along to some of the best anthems ever,” advises Mr H.

Barnsley box office: ents24.com/barnsley-events/birdwell-venue/rick-witter/6412282; Scarborough: ents24.com/scarborough-events/scarborough-spa/rick-witter-paul-banks-shed-seven/6399236.

The poster for Rick Witter and Paul Banks’s duo gigs in Barnsley and Scarborough

Shed Seven to play Leeds, Sheffield and Hull on Shedcember tour but not York

SHED Seven will close their 2021 Shedcember tour with two nights at Leeds O2 Academy on December 20 and 21.

The 18-date itinerary will take in further Yorkshire shows at Sheffield O2 Academy on November 30 and Hull City Hall on December 1, but not a home-city gig for the York Britpop heroes, alas.

The Sheds’ concerts are billed as Another Night, Another Town – The Greatest Hits Live, in a nod of acknowledgement in the direction of last December’s 21-track live double album, and will start as ever in Scotland, on November 25 in Aberdeen.

“After what has been going in the world, we can’t wait to get out there and play what has become a biennial Christmas tradition in ‘Shedcember’,” says frontman Rick Witter. “You can expect the usual set, full of our hits, with a few surprises thrown in, and we can’t wait to hit the road. See you down the front.”

Chris Helme: New group project with Mark Morriss and Nigel Clark

Make sure to arrive in good time to catch the support act, very special guests MCH: a new venture for York singer-songwriter Chris Helme, once of The Seashorses, who is joined in this new acronym “supergroup” by Mark Morriss, from The Bluetones, and Nigel Clark, from Dodgy.

“For those enquiring, we’ll be playing a set consisting of new material as well as old favourites,” tweeted the trio today. “Easing you in gently, as it were. Not wishing to blow your minds too hard before the headline act do their thang.”

Tickets go on sale at 9am on April 29 at shedseven.com, gigsandtours.com and ticketmaster.co.uk.

Shed Seven move their all Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall for third time to August 28

Shed Seven: Yorkshire day out at The Piece Hall, Halifax, on the move again

YORK band Shed Seven’s all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall, Halifax, is being rescheduled for a third time.

The Coronavirus lockdown put paid to the original date of June 26 2020, first moved to September 19 2020, then to June 26 this summer.

Now, fourth time lucky, the Sheds’ show will take place on August 28. All the support acts first signed up for last June have confirmed their participation on the new date.

Joining the Sheds that West Yorkshire day will be Leeds bands The Pigeon Detectives and The Wedding Present and Leeds United-supporting York group Skylights, plus the Brighton Beach DJs.

Tickets for this Futuresounds Events open-air concert are on sale at £42.50, premium seats £55, at lunatickets.co.uk, seetickets.com and gigantic.com.

August 28? Doesn’t that clash with Leeds Festival, co-headlined that day by Stormzy and Catfish And The Bottlemen? Indeed so, but “let’s just say our fans are not their demographic,” quips lead singer Rick Witter, aware of the predominance of teens at the post-exam-results gathering at Bramham Park.

This is the second outdoor Shed Seven show in 2021 to be in need of a new date. They should have been chasing winners as well as Chasing Rainbows at Doncaster Racecourse on May 15, but that Don 2021 Music Live debut is now a non-runner under the Government’s lockdown restrictions.

Witter confirms an announcement on when the Sheds’ show will finally come under  starter’s orders will be made tomorrow. Expect a delay until 2022.

When first setting up the Halifax headline gig, Witter said: “We’re doing this Piece Hall show partly because our 2018 gig at Manchester’s Castlefield Bowl went so well.”

The revived Britpoppers drew 8,000 that June day; the maximum capacity is 5,500 for the Piece Hall, a renovated 18th-century Halifax cloth hall that now houses history exhibits and independent shops, bars and restaurants.

Skylights: York band will support Shed Seven on August 28 at The Piece Hall

In 2019, the Sheds mounted their biggest ever Shedcember winter tour, chalking up their record run of 23 shows between November 21 and December 21, with Leeds First Direct Arena on December 7 at the epicentre.

“After we did those Shedcember gigs, we just fancied doing something similar to Castlefield Bowl, but this time a Yorkshire gig,” said the Stockport-born Witter.

Stockport, Mr Witter?! “I know, but I consider myself a Yorkie now,” said Rick, who attended Huntington School in York. “To do an outdoor Yorkshire show in such a salubrious setting will be a great buzz.”

The Sheds are making provisional plans for a 2021 series of Shedcember shows. Watch this space for updates.

Meanwhile, The Piece Hall Trust and Futuresound have confirmed their rescheduled programme of live music events for 2021 and 2022, in the wake of the Government roadmap rollout.

The partners have worked hard to keep as many acts as possible in 2021, with the vast majority rescheduled for August and September. “But due to the complex nature of artist touring schedules, we have had to move some of the gigs, including Nile Rodgers featuring Chic and Doves, to 2022,” says the trust.

“We have managed to secure a second date for Nile Rodgers & Chic following strong sales demand seen this year. Tickets for the new show will go on general sale at 10am on Friday [12/3/2021], with a 24-hour Piece Hall Trust member pre-sale starting on Thursday.

“We hope that the return of live music to the venue will help bring some joy and a sense of normality back to music lovers.”

The dates now confirmed for The Piece Hall:

2021

Shed Seven, August 28; The Specials, August 29; The Cribs, September 3; Richard Hawley, September 4; Manic Street Preachers, September 10; Kaiser Chiefs, September 11 and 12.

Kaiser Chiefs: Two nights in Halifax in September

2022

Doves, June 18; Nile Rodgers featuring Chic, June 24 and 25.

All tickets purchased for deferred events remain valid, and ticket holders do not need to do anything to secure their spot for the new date.

Those unable to make the new dates should contact their booking platform to discuss making alternative arrangements. Refunds will be available from the point of purchase if they cannot make the rescheduled dates.

Visitor safety continues to be the number one priority for The Piece Hall Trust, and so the team has been working closely with partners to determine the safest way to reinstate live music events.

Essential maintenance and a significant deep clean have been undertaken during the Lockdown 3 and the logistics of the large-scale events are being planned meticulously.

Nicky Chance-Thompson, the trust’s chief executive officer, says: “We’re thrilled that we have been able to reschedule our planned Summer 2021 artists to the autumn in what has been a turbulent year for all of us.

“By moving the events to the later dates, we hope we’re providing peace of mind for ticket holders not just around the certainty of the gigs going ahead, but around individuals’ safety and wellbeing, which remains our main priority.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel, and for the first time in a long while, we can re-imagine a thriving and vibrant live music scene returning to Halifax once again. Live music events have always been the jewel in the crown of The Piece Hall, and we sincerely look forward to welcoming these world-renowned artists to our venue.”

For tickets, go to: lunatickets.co.uk, seetickets.com and gigantic.com.

No concerts in 2020 but Shed Seven are live on new album and back gigging in 2021

The artwork for Shed Seven: Live, Another Night, Another Town

SHED Seven’s live album, Another Night, Another Town, is out tomorrow

“We had to put back the release date by a fortnight, because under Covid guidance, we hadn’t been able to sign the signed copies,” says lead singer Rick Witter. “But last Thursday the warehouse delivered them and we sat in different rooms in the Gillygate pub to sign them, so everything is ready now.”

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, Sheds’ 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.

Another Night, Another Town is 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.

“But we hadn’t recorded a live album since we returned as a five-piece in 2007 and we certainly hadn’t released one as good as this!” says Rick, 48, reflecting on the new album, 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.

“We’re playing better live now than ever, and with Chris Sheldon mixing it, it’s a good memory of great times. There’s brass on there as well, and because gigs with big crowds still aren’t coming back in the imminent future, this is the next best thing to a gig. At this time in our lives, it’s the best thing we can do.”

Shed Seven’s five-piece line-up since 2007: bassist Tom Gladwin, left, lead vocalist Rick Witter, drummer Alan Leach and guitarists Paul Banks and Joe Johnson

The decision to release a live album was made in the hiatus of the pandemic lockdown. “We were thinking, at the beginning of Lockdown, ‘we’re not going to be able to do anything, so how can we do something to stop us going stale?’.

“We’d recorded a lot of the last Shedcember tour in 2019, so this was a good time to go through those recordings and the 2018 Castlefield Bowl show [in Manchester] to curate the best live album we could.

“Listening to 18 different versions of She Left Me On Friday…we spent a lot of time doing that, then picking the best, so there are songs from lots of different gigs, which should please Shed Seven fans that were there.”

For the packaging, the Sheds have drawn inspiration from their favourite live albums, among them The Smiths’ Rank and U2’s Under A Blood Red Sky. “We also had a little bit of idea, from the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street, such classic imagery, not copying it, but paying tribute to it,” says Rick.

“We must have grown as a band because we now have four photographers following regularly on our tours, with lots of logging of our gigs. We got in touch with three of them to ask if we could cherry pick them for album artwork and it looks great.”

Another Night, Another Town’s arrival coincides with tickets going on sale for the Sheds’ rearranged Live After Racing’ @ Doncaster Racecourse gig, now moved to May 15 2021.

“We should have been playing there this August, as well as about 12 big festivals and The Piece Hall at Halifax that we were headlining,” says Rick. “Thankfully, we’ve re-scheduled most of these gigs.

“The bonus for us is that usually in a year when we do a Shedcember tour, we’re not allowed to do those outdoor shows in the same year because the promoters like to push the Shedcember shows through the year, but because of what’s happened this year, we’ll now be doing both summer and winter shows in 2021. It looks like being a busy year.”

The poster for Shed Seven’s all-Yorkshire line-up at The Piece Hall, Halifax, next summer

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.

The Piece Hall concert will be an all-Yorkshire event embracing Shed Seven, up-and-coming anthemic York band Skylights and Leeds groups The Pigeon Detectives and The Wedding Present. “We wanted it to be a Yorkshire celebration, thinking, ‘who could we ask?’, ‘ who would be up for it?’, and it was a real delight that The Wedding Present said ‘Yes’, as I love them but haven’t seen them for a while,” says Rick.

Impeded by the unremitting Coronavirus pandemic, The Sheds have ended up “taking a rest this year. “But being savvy, I thought, ‘we’re going to be able to play next year but loads of bands will be looking to do the same, so we better not sit on our laurels’. We structured the 2021 Shedcember tour as soon as we could, getting the gigs organised,” says Rick.

The dates will be announced in due course but he did confirm Shed Seven would play the Leeds O2 Academy, rather than Leeds First Direct Arena, where they made their debut last winter. “It’s just too stressful!” Rick reveals. “We’re set in our ways and we just know what we’re doing in front of 3.000, 4,000, whereas with 10,000 you have to concentrate so much more to make it work.

“It’s like a big step-up to play arenas, especially when we’re playing ‘normal’ venues for the rest of the tour, with that gig in the middle. We ended up with three set builds, trawling stuff around for the tour where we wouldn’t use half of it on most nights!

“So, we’re going to revert back to our comfort zone, but with plenty of big cities on there, as I kinda let the cat on my radio show.”

Rick Witter’s Disco Down has found a new home at Jorvik Radio from 7pm to 9pm on Sunday. “I did show number three last weekend with [York singer-songwriter and erstwhile Seahorses frontman] Chris Helme as my guest,” says Rick. “Mark Morriss [from The Bluetones] did an earlier show, so I’m working my way through my contacts book!”

Tomorrow, the focus will fall on the launch of Another Night, Another Town. “We hope this album provides just a little bit of the live experience we’re all missing before we return in 2021,” says Rick.

Another Night, Another Town, another Covid impact on Shed Seven’s live album…

Another Night, Another Town, another live album from Shed Seven: their fifth but first since re-forming as a five-piece in 2007

SHED Seven’s release date for their live album Another Night, Another Town is being put back by a fortnight…and Covid-19 is to blame.

“We haven’t been able to do the signing for the signed copies,” explains lead singer Rick Witter. “But everything will now be ready for December 18.”  

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, Sheds’ 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.

Pre-ordering signed copies has come with the enticement of downloads of album opener Room In My House and Ocean Pie.

“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,” says frontman Rick Witter of the Another Night, Another Town recordings

“A few words” from frontman Rick Witter accompanied the album 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, 48. “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!

The poster for Shed Seven’s all-Yorkshire bill for The Piece Hall, Halifax, now rearranged for next summer

“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.

Meanwhile, after a frustrating year of Covid-cancelled gigs, 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.

Shed Seven LIVE? Not this summer, alas, but on a new album out in December, yes

Shed Seven’s artwork to announce their December 4 live album, Another Night, Another Town

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).

Taking it sitting down: Shed Seven have been left with a blank summer gig diary in Covid-19 2020

“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

Shed Seven move June 26 headline show at Halifax Piece Hall to…June 26 2021

Piece in our time? No, not until next year after Shed Seven’s Piece Hall headline show was moved to next June

YORK band Shed Seven’s all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall, Halifax, is being rescheduled for a second time.

The Coronavirus lockdown put paid to the original date of June 26 2020, first moved to September 19. Now, third time lucky, the Sheds’ show will take place on June 26 2021.

Joining the Sheds that West Yorkshire day will be Leeds bands The Pigeon Detectives and The Wedding Present and Leeds United-supporting York group Skylights, plus the Brighton Beach DJs.

Tickets for this Futuresounds Events open-air concert are on sale at £42.50, premium seats £55, at lunatickets.co.uk, seetickets.com and gigantic.com.

This is the second outdoor Shed Seven show in 2020 to need a new date. They should have been chasing winners as well as Chasing Rainbows at Doncaster Racecourse on August 15, but that Live After Racing debut is now a non-runner instead of being under starter’s orders at 5.45pm.

The new race day will be May 15 2021, the post-racing show now re-billed as Don 2021 Music Live.

When announcing the Halifax headline gig, Shed Seven lead singer Rick Witter said: “We’re doing this Piece Hall show partly because our 2018 gig at Manchester’s Castlefield Bowl went so well.”

No-show blow: Covid-19 has scuppered Paul Banks and Rick Witter’s Shed Seven Acoustic set at next month’s Platform Festival at The Old Station, Pocklington

The revived Britpoppers drew 8,000 that June day; the capacity will be 5,500 for the Piece Hall, a renovated 18th-century Halifax cloth hall that now houses history exhibits and independent shops, bars and restaurants.

Last year, the Sheds mounted their biggest ever Shedcember winter tour, chalking up their record run of 23 shows between November 21 and December 21, with Leeds First Direct Arena on December 7 at the epicentre.

“After we did the Shedcember gigs, we just fancied doing something similar to Castlefield Bowl this summer, but this time a Yorkshire gig,” said the Stockport-born Witter, when interviewed in January.

Stockport, Mr Witter?! “I know, but I consider myself a Yorkie now,” said Rick, who attended Huntington School in York.

“I remember Embrace playing The Piece Hall [Elbow have done likewise], and it’s taken a few months to confirm our gig since we came up with the idea of playing there. We wanted to do an outdoor show, and to do it in such a salubrious setting will be a great buzz.”

Seven summer festival appearances by the Sheds have been knocked on the head by the Covid-19 pandemic and so too has Rick Witter and Paul Banks’s Shed Seven Acoustic headline show at Pocklington’s Platform Festival on July 11

Roll on next summer, the all-Yorkshire day at the Piece Hall and Shed Seven’s first run-out at Donny racecourse. “I went as a guest to see Kaiser Chiefs play at York Racecourse [July 22 2016], and it was a great day out,” said Rick. “People love it because it’s a full day out with racing and music. Let’s feel the love that day as everyone makes a big day of it. We can’t wait.”

Absolutely.