Strictly dance star Johannes Radebe finds Freedom at last in debut solo tour show

FREEDOM. What better title could South African dancer and ground-breaking Strictly Come Dancing star Johannes Radebe give his debut British tour.

“It is the freedom to dance to my own tune for the first time,” says 34-year-old Johannes, ahead of his itinerary opening with a Yorkshire show at Bridlington Spa on Wednesday (16/3/2022) before playing the Grand Opera House, York, on April 12.

“I’ve danced in many productions around the world but I’ve never been able to capture on stage where I came from, and I never thought I’d be able to go on my own tour, so it’s a very welcome surprise.”

Radebe (pronounced Ra-dee-bay) was catapulted to new heights of popularity by bonding so exhilaratingly with 2012’s The Great British Bake Off winner and TV chef John Waite as the first all-male couple in 2021’s series of Strictly, pipped for the Glitterball by first deaf contestant Rose Ayling-Ellis and professional partner Giovanni Pernice.

“It was liberating and healing as well,” says Johannes. “I’ve got a better relationship with my mum now, as we can talk about my sexual orientation – and people’s lives have changed for the better too.

“In a world where two men still can’t be free to be  together, I hope to be able to educate the masses, and if people had a glimpse of that with me and John dancing together, then they can think about it.”

Such was the appeal and dancing brio of both partnerships, each marking a first for Strictly, that many would have loved them to have been declared first equal. “I’m with you!” says Johannes, bursting into laughter. “John kept saying, ‘it’s fine if we don’t win’, and yes, it is s fine! At the finale, we both stood there as couples thinking ‘it’s fine’. That’s the friendship that comes through the show.”

After touring the world in Burn The Floor, Joahannes was head-hunted to join the Strictly professionals for the 2018 series, first moving to Britain that year. In his second season, when partnering Catherine Tyldesley in 2019, he danced the first same-sex routine with fellow Strictly pro Graziano Di Prima.

The tour poster for Johannes Radebe’s Freedom show

Last year was to be even more significant. “My decision to finally dance with another man in the competition came about after I lost a friend of mine within our community. He was murdered, and the last words that were uttered to him by his killer was that he was a ‘faggot’,” says Johannes.

He paused, consumed again by the pain of what his friend had suffered, then said: “I get a moment to highlight it in the show. This is something that needs to be done, to give it that platform, and it’s important to keep being flamboyant – but that does require bravery.”

Freedom marks Johannes’s return to the Grand Opera House for the first time since sharing the York stage with Strictly alumni Kevin Clifton and Graziano Di Prima in Burn The Floor in July 2019.

On tour from March 16 to May 1, Johannes Radebe: Freedom is billed as “a celebration of music and dance, from African fusion to fiery Latin, from classic dance arrangements to huge party anthems”, as Radebe and his dancers take the audience on his personal journey, from starting to dance at seven to leaving South Africa at 21 to travel the world, winning international titles and electrifying Strictly Come Dancing.

Now he will be expressing himself to the full in Freedom. “I’ve been on a quest to find Black dancers in this country that are versed in all dance styles, but not many of them are ballroom dancers, whereas where I come from everyone can do the Cha-cha-cha,” says Johannes.

“I’ve chosen everyone through auditions. I had to be in the room to feel their energy, to see if they move me as a dancer, so I’ve found beautiful, individual dancers, which will make it feel a different show.

“It’s a show designed to be representing everyone, and it will be so beautiful to have audiences that support our artform – and I know we have that privilege because of the Strictly audience.”

Johannes has a theory as to why dance and TV audiences feel such a strong connection with him. “It’s because I have no inhibitions. I know that I come alive when I dance. Something takes over. It’s a feeling as an artist that I can’t explain but people connect with it,” he says.

In a nutshell, Freedom. “Absolutely! Nothing is going to stop me. It’s about the joy that my dancing has brought to my mother. Nothing was more important to me than to see my mum be happy when often she would be sad,” says Johannes.

“I was only a child and so I didn’t understand the magnitude of it when she carried me on her back, telling everyone I’d got a prize in a dance competition. She was so proud, even though it wasn’t first place. But that’s the thing. That talent was nurtured from a young age, and though my mum couldn’t support it financially, everyone else contributed.”

Johannes Radebe’s pathway to Freedom was set in perpetual motion, and hopefully another Strictly series awaits too. “We haven’t had the phone-calls yet, but I’ll gladly do it for as long as they will have me,” he says.

Might he look to do another all-male coupling? “Well, you never now. I’m just glad to have kicked down that door.”

Johannes Radebe: Freedom, Bridlington Spa, Wednesday, 7.30pm; Grand Opera House, York, April 12, 7.30pm. Box office: Bridlington, 01262 678258 or; York, 0844 871 7615 or Further Yorkshire performances: Sheffield City Hall, April 3,; Bradford St George’s Hall, April 9,; Hull City Hall, April 23, 01482 300306 or

Copyright of The Press, York

Ed Gamble goes Electric for new tour show, playing five Yorkshire gigs. First up, York

Stand-up sits down: Ed Gamble takes a breather between shows

MOCK The Week regular panellist Ed Gamble will be in Electric form at the Grand Opera House, York, tonight and Harrogate Royal Hall tomorrow at 7.30pm.

Co-creator of the food and comedy podcast Off Menu with fellow stand-up James Acaster, Taskmaster winner and Great British Menu judge, Gamble says he is “charged up and ready to flick the switch on another round of attention-seeking.”

Gamble, who has appeared on QI, The Russell Howard Hour, Would I Lie To You? and  8 Out Of 10 Cats, presents a Sunday morning show on Radio X with Matthew Crosby and has his own special, Blood Sugar, available on Amazon Prime.

He will play further Yorkshire gigs on his Electric tour at Hull City Hall on March 25; Bradford St George’s Hall on April 7; Sheffield City Hall on April 19 and Leeds City Varieties on April 22.

Box office: York, 0844 871 7615 or at; Harrogate,; Hull,; Bradford,; Sheffield,; Leeds,

Betcha by golly wow, The Stylistics are on their way to York Barbican in November

The Stylistics: “We can’t wait to be back in the UK”

PHILADELPHIA soul veterans The Stylistics will play York Barbican on November 27 on their 27-date autumn tour.

Further Yorkshire dates will follow at Halifax Victoria Theatre on November 29 and Sheffield City on November 30, each starting at 7.30pm.

The Stylistics will tour with founder members Airrion Love and Herb Murrell, both 72, alongside ‘Bo’ Henderson and Jason Sharp.

“We can’t wait to back in the UK performing all our hits, bringing back great memories and having a great evening with you all,” they say.

Formed in 1968 with a line-up of Russell Thompkins Jr, Love, Murrell, James Smith and James Dunn, they notched Seventies’ hits with such harmonious highs as I’m Stone In Love With You, You Make Me Feel Brand New, Let’s Put It All Together, Betcha By Golly Wow, Break Up To Make Up, You’ll Never Get To Heaven (If You Break My Heart) and You Are Everything.

Tickets for the October 28 to December 2 tour go on sale at 9am on Friday on 0844 888 9991 or at For York,; Sheffield,; Halifax,

The Stylistics, the statistics

Seven Gold albums; five Gold singles; two Double Gold singles; eight Platinum albums; one Double Platinum album; four Platinum singles; Grammy nomination in 1974 for You Make Me Feel Brand New; plaque on Walk Of Fame, Center City, Philadelphia, 1994; inductees into Vocal Group Hall Of Fame, May 2004.

Boyzlife’s Keith Duffy and Brian McFadden to play York Barbican on October 14 after spring release of Old School album

“We cannot wait to get back on the road and this time play Boyzlife original material,” say Brian McFadden and Keith Duffy

BOYZLIFE, the Irish superboyband formed by long-time pals Keith Duffy and Brian McFadden, will play York Barbican on October 14 on their 27-city Old School tour.

Boyzone’s Duffy and Westlife’s McFadden will be performing songs from their upcoming studio album of original material, Old School, alongside multiple hits from their Nineties and Noughties’ boybands.

Boyzone have chalked up six UK number one singles and worldwide sales of 25 million records; Westlife have notched 12 UK and Irish number one singles and four chart-topping albums.

Boyzlife’s debut album, Strings Attached, revisited nine Boyzone and Westlife number ones, performed by Duffy and McFadden with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Angel Studios, London.

Released on July 17 2020, it topped both the UK and Irish iTunes and Amazon music charts and peaked at number 12 in the UK Official Album Chart.

Duffy, 47, and McFadden, 41, wrote and recorded Old School in studio sessions in between last year’s tour dates. Giving a glimpse into what fans can expect of the May 6 release, McFadden says: “Keith and I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s; the sound of that era is what made us want to be musicians in the first place.

The album cover artwork for Boyzlife’s Old School, out on May 6

“When we first started talking about making this record as Boyzlife’s first studio album, we naturally talked about those influences a lot and have loved bringing these familiar sounds into our studio sessions and onto this record and cannot wait to take those songs live.”

Boyzlife add: “Working with our producer Jackson has been an extremely creative process. We went into the studio with lyrics ideas, worked together to find a melodic sound to go with the lyrics and built the songs from there.

“Some things just fit into place and others get chopped and changed until we all agree we are on the right track. We are very excited about this album and can’t wait for people to hear it.”

The track listing will be: Burn For You; first single The One (co-written by McFadden with Guy Chambers); A Little Saving; All This Time; Glory Days; Because I Love Somebody; Coming Back To You; Her;  If I Asked You To Love and Distant Sun.

Boyzlife, who made their York Barbican on October 17 2021, say: “We cannot wait to get back on the road and this time play Boyzlife original material alongside all of our music over the last 25 years. The show will be a Rolla-coaster through old and new songs and we cannot wait to take our fans on the ride.”

Boyzlife’s Old School tour will take in further Yorkshire shows at Sheffield City Hall on September 29 and St George’s Hall, Bradford, on October 15. Box office: York,; Sheffield,; Bradford,

Echo & The Bunnymen celebrate ’40 years of magical songs’ with Leeds and Sheffield concerts and album reissues on vinyl

Echo & The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant: 44 years and counting…and still too cool to be called a heritage act

ECHO & The Bunnymen are heading out on their spring tour, opening with two Yorkshire gigs at Sheffield City Hall tomorrow (1/2/2022) and Leeds O2 Academy on Wednesday.

Billed as “celebrating 40 years of magical songs” – although the Liverpool band formed in 1978 – the 20 dates book-end the February 18 vinyl reissue of the Bunnymen’s first compilation, 1985’s Songs To Learn & Sing.

Available on heavyweight black vinyl and a special-edition splatter vinyl, complete with an exclusive seven-inch pressing of debut single Pictures On My Wall/Read It In Books, the resurrected compilation follows last October’s vinyl re-issue of their first four studio albums, Crocodiles, Heaven Up Here, Porcupine and Ocean Rain, also on black or limited-edition coloured vinyl.

“It’s about making the albums look good,” says guitarist Will Sergeant, who remains at the core of the Liverpool post-punk legends with singer Ian McCulloch. “There’ve been versions out there, like the ones with hard cardboard sleeves a couple of years, that I did some liner notes for. I just got a few copies…with a bit of scrounging!

“There’s loads of Bunnymen records I haven’t got. I never get sent anything! People come up to you and ask you to sign records, and you think, ‘I’ve never seen that one before’.”

Echo & The Bunnymen at Gullfloss, southern Iceland, on the cover of third album Porcupine

Sergeant notes the resurgence in buying vinyl, but says: “I’ve never given up on vinyl. You wouldn’t throw out old photo albums, so why throw out your vinyl? I’d never sell them.

“There was this bloke with all the original Beatles albums on mono, selling them for nothing at a car-boot sale, and I said to him, ‘what are you doing, selling them for that’, and he ended up putting them back in his car!“

He is delighted by the Bunnymen’s ongoing reissue programme, “I’m made up that they’re being brought out on vinyl, as I love it, though all I know is that they’re being re-released. I’ve not really been consulted, though I’m sure they’ll have been tarted up a bit!”

The album sleeves, revelling in their return to the 12-inch canvas, bring back memories for Sergeant, now 63. Like the freezing-cold day in 1982 they shot the cover for 1983’s Porcupine at Gullfoss, the ‘Golden Falls’ waterfall in southwest Iceland.

“It was 30 degrees below! I think Bill Drummond had been there as a kid, going to Iceland on a fishing boat. We just went there to do the album cover. It was the middle of winter, and we had to get up at two in the morning, setting off across the tundra in these four-wheelers. It took all of three hours to get to the end of this glacier.

Echo & The Bunnymen at Carnglaze Caverns, Liskeard, Cornwall, in Brian Griffin’s artwork for Ocean Rain, billed as “the greatest album ever made”

“I was wearing a parka and some boots, and Ian had some ‘ladies’ slippers from with little knots on them and fur inside. He used to call them his banana boots ’cos they went yellow.”

The sleeve image looks spectacular, but doing the shoot was “mental”, says Sergeant. “There was a 200ft drop just two feet away on this ice cap. If we’d slipped, we’d have been down in this chasm,” he recalls. “But I’m glad we did it. The great thing is that it’s real. It’s not photoshopped. We really had to go to these places.”

Next came Ocean Rain, the 1984 masterpiece trailered by McCulloch’s advert boast proclaiming it to be “the greatest album ever made”. “We shot the cover in an old slate mine in Cornwall. Jake Riviera, the big cheese on Stiff Records, had this cave on his land at the bottom of his garden, and the photographer, Brian Griffin, had worked with Jake and knew this place,” says Sergeant.

“We were always looking for natural settings. We’d done the sea, we’d done the woods, we’d done the glacier, so we said, ‘let’s do a cave.”

Once in the cave, at Carnglaze Caverns, Liskeard, they decided to use the rowing boat in there. “It’s naturalistic, but the way Brian lit it makes it look likes the water curves round the tunnel. Beautiful.”

“It’ll be pretty much the greatest hits and maybe a couple of new ones,” says Will Sergeant of Echo & The Bunnymen’s set list for their spring tour

Sergeant has always loved the look of vinyl, the size of the album sleeve, that all contributes to the iconic status of classic albums. “The good thing about records, if you have a collector’s spirit, is that you want all of it: all of The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Roxy Music, so it’s great that vinyl’s coming back. Not just for the old collectors, but the young hipsters.”

Looking ahead to the tour, Sergeant says: “It’ll be pretty much the greatest hits and maybe a couple of new ones. We’ll decide the day before.

“We did start recording new stuff, but the pandemic put the kybosh on that, so the momentum was lost. We’ll see.”

He did use lockdown, however, to bring his book, Bunnyman: A Memoir, to the finishing line for publication last July (and subsequently in the United States in November on Fairman Books, musician Jack White’s publishing house).

Sergeant’s memoir recounts how he grew up in Liverpool in the 1960s and ’70s, “when skinheads, football violence and fear of just about everything was the natural order of things, but a young Will Sergeant found the emerging punk scene provided a shimmer of hope amongst a crumbling city still reeling from the destruction of the Second World War”.

From Read It In Books to writing books: Echo & The Bunnymen’s Will Sergeant pens his memoir, Bunnyman

“I’d already started writing it, in 2019, I think, but the first lockdown helped me to concentrate on it, doing it every day for nine months, then it took time to find the photos – there aren’t a lot, as the book focuses on my time as a kid, growing up, and the first year of the band before Pete [drummer Pete de Freitas] joined, when we had a drum machine. The next book will be about what happened after that,” says Sergeant.

Reflecting on his back story, he says: “I remember a lot of things from when I was a kid, because we had a bit of a tumultuous childhood, with a lot of violence and heaviness in the house because my parents didn’t get on.

“I didn’t keep a diary, but with the Bunnymen, every day is a diary day because people keep details and lots of it has stayed in the memory – and it’s the bits that you remember that are important.

“My big thing is truth. I don’t like people who lie. That’s why there are lots of truths in the first book that some people would have left out.”

Echo & The Bunnymen play Sheffield City Hall tomorrow (February 1) and Leeds O2 Academy on Wednesday. Box office:

The Proclaimers love playing York Barbican in October. First 2015, then 2018, now 2022

The Proclaimers’ tour poster for their 2022 travels

SCOTTISH twin brothers The Proclaimers will return to York Barbican on October 19 on their 35-date British and Irish tour next autumn.

In doing so, Craig and Charlie Reid, 59, will complete a hattrick of October gigs at the Barbican after shows there on October 25 2015 and October 17 2018 – their last York gig – on their Angry Cyclist Tour.

The 2022 itinerary will take in further Yorkshire concerts at Bradford S George’s Hall on October 13 and Sheffield City Hall on October 20.

Next year will see The Proclaimers heading into the recording studio to record their 12th studio album, followed by festival appearances in the summer and an opening spot at Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott’s outdoor concert at Doncaster Keepmoat Stadium on July 23.

The bespectacled Reid brothers emerged 35 years ago with their debut album This Is The Story and top three single Letter From America, since when their songs of poignancy, emotional honesty, political fire and wit have become staples at weddings, funerals and everything in between.

Carving out a niche in the netherworld where pop, folk, new wave and punk collide, The Proclaimers have enjoyed gold and platinum singles and albums in Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

When David Tennant picked The Proclaimers for his opening song on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in 2009, the Reids’ fellow Scotsman said: “I could have chosen any and every track from this band, probably my favourite band of all time. They write the most spectacular songs, big hearted, uncynical passionate songs.” He selected Over And Done With, from This Is The Story, should you be wondering.

York tickets go on sale on Friday (26/11/2021) at 10am at; Doncaster, Friday, 9.30am, at and

‘We couldn’t say no,’ explain Bellowhead as folk big band say yes to tenth anniversary Broadside reunion tour next November

Bellowhead: Reunion tour in 2022

FOLK big band Bellowhead are to reunite next year for a tenth anniversary tour of their Broadside album.

Among the 18 dates will be Yorkshire concerts at Harrogate Convention Centre on November 25 2022 and Sheffield City Hall two nights later.

During lockdown in 2020, the 11 members first re-connected online to record New York Girls – At Home remotely, prompting Bellowhead to reconvene in person for a one-off performance, streamed to mark the tenth anniversary of 2010’s Hedonism.

Thousands of fans watched one of the biggest online streams of 2020, confirming contemporary prog-folk act Bellowhead still to be in big demand despite not performing their traditional dance tunes, folk songs and shanties live since 2016.

The stream led to pleas for more and now the stars have aligned for Jon Biden, John Spiers, Sam Sweeney and co to assemble once more next autumn to toast fourth album Broadside’s tenth birthday.

Sam Sweeney: Playing with Bellowhead and providing the tour support with his own band. Picture: Elly Lucas

Produced by John Leckie for release on October 15 2012, Broadside gave Bellowhead their first Top 20 entry in the UK Official Album Charts and features the BBC Radio 2-playlisted singles Roll The Woodpile Down and 10,000 Miles Away.

Bellowhead say: “The reaction to the online concert was overwhelming and we really did enjoy playing together again. The tenth anniversary of Broadside presented an opportunity for us to take things one step further and get back out on the road. We couldn’t say no! It’s going to be lots of fun. Hope you’ll join us for the party.”

Support on all dates will come from Sam Sweeney and his band. Stroud fiddler Sweeney is not only a Bellowhead “veteran” (serving from 2008 to 2016 and now back on the front line) but also former artistic director of the National Folk Youth Ensemble.

Last year, Sweeney released his second solo album, Unearth Repeat; last Friday, he played a sold-out gig at the National Centre for Early Music, York, with Jack Rutter, acoustic guitar, Louis Campbell, electric guitar, and Ben Nicholls, double bass.

Bellowhead formed in 2004; played to thousands of people at festivals and on tour; recorded five studio albums, selling more than 250,000 copies; received two silver discs and won eight BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards before parting ways in 2016. Next autumn’s reunion itinerary is being billed as a “special one-off tour”.

Tickets go on general sale on Friday (26/22/2021) at 10am at

Ben Elton to direct 20th anniversary tour of We Will Rock You, heading for Grand Opera House, York, from Valentine’s Day 2022

Queen’s counsel: Ben Elton, director of 20th anniversary tour production of We We Will Rock You. Picture: Trevor Leighton

WRITER Ben Elton is to direct the 20th anniversary tour of We Will Rock You, the futuristic musical he scripted for Queen. Week two will bring his 2022 cast to the Grand Opera House, York, from February 14 to 19.

“I can hardly believe it’s been 20 years since We Will Rock You premiered in London, or that much of what we thought was science fiction in the script back then has turned into science fact,” says Elton, the Eighties’ godfather of political stand-up comedy, writer for stage and screen and novelist.

“I guess Queen were always ahead of the game! I’ve directed this show all over the world and I can’t wait to bring it home to the UK with a brand new production and a fabulous cast of young Bohemians, Bohemians, most of whom were rocking in their cradles when this adventure first began.”

Queen guitarist Brian May: musical advisor for We Will Rock You. Picture: Rankin

Powered by 24 Queen songs, We Will Rock You tells the story of a globalised future without musical instruments where a handful of rock rebels, the Bohemians, fight against the all-powerful Global soft company and its boss, the Killer Queen, in the cause of freedom, individuality and the rebirth of the age of rock.

Scaramouche and Galileo, two young outsiders, cannot come to terms with the bleak conformist reality, joining the Bohemians to embark on the search to find the unlimited power of freedom, love and rock.

The tour cast will be led Ian McIntosh as Galileo and Elena Skye as Scaramouche, with Jenny O’Leary as Killer Queen, Adam Strong as Khashoggi, Michael Mckell as Buddy, Martina Ciabatti Mennell as Oz, David Michael Johnson as Brit.

We Will Rock You: Touring 27 venues on 20th anniversary tour. Picture: Johan Persson

The ensemble will include Laura Bird, Kate Leiper, Joanne Harper, Anna Davey, Edward Leigh, Spin, Karen Walker, David Muscat, Damien Walsh, Laura Ava-Scott, Victoria Collins, Joseph Connor, Louis Clarke-Clare and Jacob Fearey.

The idea for the musical emerged from a meeting between Hollywood actor Robert De Niro and Queen musicians May and Roger Taylor in Venice in 1996.

De Niro’s daughter was a fan of the ubiquitous British band, prompting De Niro to ask if the rock legends had ever thought of creating a musical based on their songs.

Queen drummer Roger Taylor: Musical advisor on We Will Rock You

We Will Rock You was born, premiered at the Dominion Theatre in May 2002, with May and Taylor as musical advisors, and the musical has since played to 16 million people in 19 countries.

Kicking off at the Kings Theatre, Portsmouth, the 2022 tour will visit 27 venues, including a second Yorkshire run at Sheffield City Hall from August 29 to September 3.

York tickets are on sale at 0844 871 7615 or at; Sheffield,

Will Young marks 20 years since Pop Idol win with hits album and 2022 autumn tour. York Barbican, Hull and Sheffield await

Will Young at 42: Heading for York, Hull and Sheffield on 20 Years Tour in 2022. Picture:

WILL Young will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his Pop Idol win with a 22-date tour next autumn, playing York Barbican on the second night, October 13.

Further Yorkshire dates on the 2022 itinerary of the 20 Years Tour will be at Hull Bonus Arena on October 21 and Sheffield City Hall on October 24. Tickets go on sale from 9am on Friday via and at, and

Since pipping Bradford musical theatre star Gareth Gates to win Pop Idol’s first series in 2002, Young has become the TV talent show’s most successful contestant, chalking up the best-selling single of the Noughties, Evergreen/Anything Is Possible, ten million record sales and eight UK top three albums, topped off by this year’s Crying On The Bathroom Floor.

Pop Idol was broadcast to as many as ten million viewers when it first aired, shooting South Londoner Young to fame and rewarding him with a record deal to release his debut chart-topping album, From Now On, after receiving a 4.6 million votes from the public.

Next year’s anniversary will be marked by the release of 20 Years – The Greatest Hits, a compilation that will span his Pop Idol winner’s single, Evergreen, and the number ones Light My Fire and Leave Right Now to Crying On The Bathroom Floor track Daniel and two new songs, yet to be named.

The album will be available next May on CD, deluxe signed CD & vinyl LP via Sony Music; fans can place pre-orders from today at to gain exclusive access to the tour pre-sale from Wednesday. 

Look out too for Young’s Crying On The Bathroom Floor Remix EP, set for release on Cooking Vinyl with six Sudlow remixes of Will’s interpretations of Daniel, Crying On The Bathroom Floor and latest single Indestructible.

Evergreen Will Young, 42, answers questions on his past, present and future:

What has been keeping you busy, Will?

“I just managed to have a lovely two-week break in Greece. I studied ancient history and was completely excited and overwhelmed at finally being able to visit the Acropolis, the birthplace of democracy.”

Young in younger days: Will after his Pop Idol success in 2002. Picture: Indira Cesarine

Can you believe two whole decades have passed by so quickly since your Pop Idol win?

“I love the phrase ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ and the last 20 years have been more fun than I could ever have imagined. I’ll never forget how people took the time to pick up the phone and vote for me. It’s kept me humble and grateful ever since.” 

On reflection, would you have succeeded as a pop star without that ‘sliding doors’ moment of auditioning for Pop Idol?

“I don’t think I would’ve become a pop star at that time without Pop Idol because I don’t think anyone would’ve signed me, an openly gay politics student.  That’s what was so beautiful about the show.”

How did it feel how to receive such a mountain of votes from the British public?

“It was such a new experience, not just for me, but also for everyone involved in the TV show. No-one knew it was going to become such a huge success, to the point where it was even debated in parliament! The whole thing was a rollercoaster of fun and laughs and it felt very validating to be voted for by so many people.”  

What can fans expect from the 20th anniversary live shows next autumn?

“I’m going to be playing most of my singles from over the last 20 years, possibly in chronological order. I’m also going to have a request section where me and my pianist will have learnt every single one of my songs,  including all the B-sides.”

How did you feel to be back on stage at last in front of a live audience for your handful of intimate ‘A Night With’ shows?

“Surprisingly, I didn’t feel like I had been away for that long. I thought I might be more nervous because it had been such a long time due to Covid. However, my muscle memory of gigging kicked in and I absolutely loved interacting with the audience, singing so many of my songs with just a piano. It was a beautiful experience.” 

The poster for Will Young’s 20 Years Tour next autumn

Will songs from this year’s Crying On The Bathroom Floor feature in the 2022 tour show?

“I will definitely be playing the singles from the latest album. I have been so thrilled with how well the whole record has been received. Sometimes things just fall into place and, with the combination of great production plus brilliant artists and songs, it worked out really well. I’m very proud of it.”

Not only did you shine a spotlight on some of your favourite, more leftfield modern female pop artists on this album, but also you wrote to each of them to explain why you recorded their song. Many replied to you – what was the loveliest response you received?

“All of the responses were lovely, but I was particularly moved by Clare Maguire’s response. Her single Elizabeth Taylor is such a special song and she’s such a kind person. I was so pleased that she was really thrilled with my version.” 

Your new single is a remix of your version of Swedish pop artist Robyn’s Indestructible. What attracted you to that song and Robyn in general?

“Robyn was very much an artist I wanted to cover; she’s so well respected as a pop artist and songwriter. I felt like Indestructible was the song of hers that I could do a good original-sounding version of.”

Did your dogs and passion for gardening help you during the pandemic lockdowns?

“Animals are a huge passion of mine; having rescue dogs to look after with all their various operations and rehabilitation definitely kept me focused. One of my concerns I’m exploring is how dogs like beagles are tested on in laboratories when they don’t need to be. If I can shine a light on animal cruelty, then I will.

“When it comes to gardening, I absolutely love it and get so much satisfaction out of it. I loved appearing on Gardeners’ World; it’s one of my favourite TV shows.” 

After the success of your role as Emcee in Cabaret, do you have any plans to return to acting in the near future?

“I’m very excited as I’ve just signed up with a new brilliant acting agent and I already have some plans in place for next year – more news coming soon.”

“I’m going to be playing most of my singles from over the last 20 years, possibly in chronological order,” says Will Young as he looks ahead to his 20 Years Tour

Will Young Facts

* Evergreen/Anything Is Possible is officially UK’s fastest-selling debut single of all time.

* Two BRIT Award wins: British Breakthrough Act in 2003 and British Single of the Year for Your Game in 2005.

* Young’s Leave Right Now won 2004 Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.

* Performed at opening ceremony of 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, Nelson Mandela’s Unite The Stars charity concert in South Africa in 2006 and Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium in 2007.

* Has performed live duets with Elton John, James Brown, Queen and Burt Bacharach.

* Starred in 2005 film Mrs. Henderson Presents alongside Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins.

* Mental health advocate, official ambassador for Women’s Aid and animal rights’ activist.

* Author of 2020 book on gay shame, To Be A Gay Man. Several follow-up books are in the works.

* Regularly guest-presents Jo Whiley Show on BBC Radio 2.

* Performed at Glastonbury Festival three times.

* Co-hosted first two seasons of Homo Sapiens LGBTQI podcast with Christopher Sweeney; new mental health podcast will launch in 2022.

* In his music-making, Young has collaborated with Burt Bacharach, Eg White, Sia, Steve Lipson, Cathy Dennis and Richard X.

* Played Emcee in Cabaret at Leeds Grand Theatre in October 2017.

* Played Dalby Forest, near Pickering, in June 2012 and Scarborough Open Air Theatre in June 2016. Last played York Barbican on Lexicon tour on October 20 2019.

Will Young as Emcee in Cabaret, on tour at Leeds Grand Theatre in 2017. Picture: Jim Marks

Putting the sole into soul, Paul Carrack takes on lockdown isolation in a One On One situation for September’s DIY album

“The sound of the record is warm, I think, and engaging, and nourishing,” says Paul Carrack of his new album, One On One. Picture: Nico Wills Cornbury

SHEFFIELD voice of soul Paul Carrack will play York Barbican on February 17 on next year’s Good & Ready tour on the back of releasing his 18th solo studio album next month.

Created in his home studio base “when lockdown cast its unwelcome shadow on the music business”, One On One will be out on September 17 on his own label, Carrack-UK.

This will be his first album since These Days in 2018, a year when he performed at York Barbican on February 16.

Singer, songwriter, keyboard player and guitarist Carrack, 70, has run his record label and touring operation for more than 20 years, equipping him with a do-it-yourself mentality to cope with the need to adapt to pandemic restrictions.

Paul Carrack playing York Barbican in the pre-Covid live years in February 2018. Picture: Simon Bartle

He not only wrote, played and recorded the album, but this time, answering to his muse and trusting his instincts, he even mixed it too. From the voice of Mike + The Mechanics’ The Living Years, you could almost call One On One the result of his live-in years.

Aside from cameos from the likes of a long-time friend and collaborator, ex-Pretenders guitarist Robbie McIntosh, and former James Brown sideman Alfred ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis, he often worked on his own, effectively a one-man band on a defiantly live-sounding album, where only one song existed in demo form beforehand. Carrack conjured the rest during lockdown, the mood set by the opening track, the tour title-inspiring Good & Ready.

“The sound of the record is warm, I think, and engaging, and nourishing,” he says. “There’s two ballads on there, but the rest of it is surprisingly upbeat. I think that’s maybe because we were mid-tour when the touring was shut down, but I was still in a kind of ‘live’ mode.”

The “decidedly funky” A Long Way To Go is boosted by a stellar horn section, arranged by Carrack’s long-time neighbour, but new friend, Dave Arch.

The album artwork for One On One, out on September 17

“I gave Dave the midi part that I’d written, and he transcribed it, and voiced it properly,” says Carrack. “You can’t beat real horns. So, we had Steve Beighton, of course, who’s been in my band for 20 years and tours with me all the time.

“We got the legendary ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis, of James Brown and Van Morrison fame, Dennis Rollins on trombone, and Andy Greenwood on trumpet. So, we recorded the horns in [the studio] here, and they sound great. And backing vocals by Michelle John, who I met working in Eric Clapton’s band. She’s absolutely unbelievable.”

Moments from Carrack’s personal life inform One On One. I Miss You So, for example, emerged from not being able to visit his daughter, after she gave birth to his new granddaughter early in 2020.

It is never a case, however, of Carrack capitalising on a situation for a tune. “I hardly ever have a plan about writing a song,” he says. “I come in here, I sit at the keyboard, or the guitar, get something going, start some lines off the top of my head. And without trying to sound too pretentious, things come out.”

Paul Carrack playing at the Underneath The Stars Festival at Cinderhill Farm, Barnsley, last Friday

The ballad You’re Not Alone was released in February as the first single from the album, subsequently being picked as a BBC Radio 2 Record of The Week. “I think I was listening to a conversation on the radio, or something, and somebody said, ‘Well, if you think the world’s going mad, you’re not alone’. And I thought, ‘Yeah’,” recalls Carrack. “The sentiment is one of support really, for someone very close who was struggling with the anxiety of lockdown.”

The swinging Lighten Up Your Mood has another ‘Pee Wee’ horn arrangement and the slinky When Love Is Blind features Carrack’s son, Jack, on drums. Normally, he would have played on the whole album, had he not been living on the other side of town.

Shame On You, Shame On Me has shades of Carrack’s original 1960s’ heroes such as Ray Charles, while Set Me Free carries a simple message for our times. “Not trying to be political or anything, more a cry from the heart to get back to some kind of normal,” he says. “I’m lucky, I live in a nice place, I’ve got a great family, but we definitely miss being out on the road.”

One On One closes with Carrack’s latest re-make of a time-worn favourite, in the wake of The Young Rascals’ Groovin’, Jackie DeShannon’s When You Walk In The Room and Goffin & King’s When My Little Girl Is Smiling. This time, he enriches Charlie Rich’s country crossover hit of 1973, Behind Closed Doors.

Paul Carrack will play 27 dates on next year’s tour

The full track listing is: Good & Ready; A Long Way To Go; I Miss You So; You’re Not Alone; Lighten Up Your Mood; Precious Time; When Love Is Blind; Shame On You, Shame On Me; Set Me Free and Behind Closed Doors.

Now that doors are open once more for gigging, Carrack will play Rye Jazz Festival, Bexhill on Sea, on August 26, followed by three autumn shows that will kick off at Hull Bonus Arena on October 19.

Next year’s 27-date Good & Ready tour will feature three Yorkshire gigs: Hull City Hall on January 22, York Barbican on February 17 and a homecoming finale at Sheffield City Hall on March 19.

York tickets for the soulful vocal sound of Ace’s How Long, Squeeze’s Tempted and Mike + The Mechanics’ Over My Shoulder, Silent Running and The Living Years are on sale at For Hull Bonus Arena,; Hull City Hall,; Sheffield,