Katie Melua announces new album for the autumn with York Barbican gig still in place

“Asking the essential timeless question about mad love”: Katie Melua’s new single A Love Like That

OVER the weekend, the serious Sunday papers were still carrying adverts for Katie Melua’s 45-date winter tour, taking in York Barbican on November 7.

We are no nearer to knowing when concert halls may re-open, but the Georgian-born Melua has announced the October 16 release of Album No. 8 – yes, her does-what-it-says-on-the-tin eighth studio album.

The accompanying tour was put in place last November in days of innocence before Covid re-wrote the rulesn of human engagement, but that does not stop the delivery of Melua’s “most cohesive and assured recording to date after a prolonged period of musical rediscovery” at 35.

Her most personal lyrics to date “attempt to reconcile the knotty complexities of real-life love to its fairytale counterpart, as Melua draws from the vernacular of folk songs to evoke a sense of magic-hour wonder mirrored by string arrangements whose depth and movement evoke Charles Stepney’s work with Rotary Connection and Ramsey Lewis”.

On her first studio set since 2016’s In Winter, the full track listing will be: A Love Like That; English Manner; Leaving The Mountain; Joy; Voices In The Night; Maybe I Dreamt It; Heading Home; Your Longing Is Gone; Airtime and Remind Me To Forget.

The artwork for Katie Melua’s….eighth album

Already doing the rounds is first single A Love Like That, a cinematic exploration of love, with lyrics by Melua, production by Leo Abrahams and a cast of musicians that embraces  drummer Emre Ramazanoglu, flautist Jack Pinter and the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra.

The video is the first in a series of collaborations between Melua and director Charlie Lightening, who has worked previously with Paul McCartney, Liam Gallagher and Kasabian. Joining Melua on screen is Star Wars, Dunkirk and MotherFatherSon actor Billy Howle.

“I’m really proud of the video,” says Katie. “I loved working with Charlie Lightening. We had lots of talks about how to make it a meaningful work and deal with the new limits on filming. We went with just me and Billy Howle on screen; we tried to show with subtle gestures and nuances the truth of love in its early stages. Hopefully, everyone can enjoy watching it.”

Charlie says: “It was so nice to collaborate with Katie on this project. We talked through the idea at length and honed what we wanted to achieve. It’s always so good when the artist has a strong idea of where the visual needs to go.

Katie Melua and Billy Howle: “Dealing with the new limits on filming” when making the video for A Love Like That

“It meant we could create a character and figure out this narrative journey that you go on throughout the film. The music is so cinematic, so to create this film has been so rewarding. Everything just came together perfectly in the end.”

Katie says of the writing process for A Love Like That: “This song is asking the essential timeless question about mad love: ‘How do you make a love like that last?’ But before it became about love between a couple, it started its life centred on my relationship with work and the stamina required to keep being an artist in the music industry.

“It was only after my co-composer Sam Dixon and I wrapped our session that I retreated to a cottage in the Cotswolds for three weeks to wrestle with the song’s lyrics. A Love Like That continues a narrative that is across the new album.  And in the context of love,  it’s about having the courage to speak openly and freely.”

Producer Leo Abrahams picks recording the orchestra in Tbilisi with Katie as his highlight. “The arrangement is written to convey the protagonist’s changing state of mind throughout the song: from turbulent to calm, sentimental to defiant,” he says. “Technically, this was probably the simplest arrangement on the record but we had to do almost 20 takes of the tremolando introduction to get the right amount of aggression but with an elegant resolution. The players seemed to enjoy it.” 

Melua last played York Barbican in December 2018, when she was joined by the Gori Women’s Choir. Tickets for November 7 are on sale at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

The Bowie Collective ch-ch-changes York Barbican date to next June…you know why

The man who fell to Earthling: Steve Evans in one of his many David Bowie guises in The Bowie Collective, replicating the Earthling album cover

CH-CH-CHANGES. The Bowie Collective tribute show at York Barbican on August 21 this summer is being re-scheduled for May 20 2021 in yet another Covid-enforced ch-ch-change. 

“All tickets remain valid for the new date,” says the Barbican. “Please get in touch with your point of purchase if you have any questions.”

Fronted by Steve Evans, The Bowie Collective “delivers a stunning and ambitious two-hour multi-media show worthy of the man himself. The mission is simple: To evoke the feeling of being at a Bowie gig, re-create the amazing studio recordings on the live stage and create a unique and intoxicating mix of dance and visuals, taking you on a sensory rollercoaster ride into the mind of the Rock’n’Roll Alien.”

Visuals, choreography, costumes, design, even holograms, go into the “first serious attempt to respectfully curate Bowie’s legacy”. Tickets are on sale at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

From The Jam and The Selecter team up for 40th anniversary gig at York Barbican

Russell Hastings and Bruce Foxton of From The Jam

FROM The Jam and The Selecter will form a double bill at York Barbican on January 15 2021, given a fair wind with further progress on Covid-19 social-distancing measures enabling the venue to re-open.

Founder bassist Bruce Foxton and vocalist/guitarist Russell Hastings’ band will be touring Britain to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sound Affects, The Jam’s fifth studio album, performing this 1980 release in its entirety, complemented by a Jam back-catalogue selection.

Recorded by Foxton, frontman Paul Weller and drummer Rick Buckler, Sound Affects peaked at number two in the UK charts and boasted two of The Jam’s most-loved singles, Start! and That’s Entertainment.

From The Jam formed in 2007, originally with Buckler as the drummer until 2009, and have performed around the world, as well as charting with their 2017 album From The Jam Live!.

Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson of special guests The Selecter

Joining them as special guests on the 2021 tour will be Coventry ska group The Selecter, fronted by Pauline Black and featuring original member Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson.

They too will be marking a 40th anniversary, in their case their 1980 2 Tone debut, Too Much Pressure, played in full, bolstered by further Selecter favourites. Expect to hear Three Minute Hero, On The Radio, Too Much Pressure, Missing Words, James Bond, The Whisper, Celebrate The Bullet and Frontline.

Tickets for January 15 are on sale at yorkbarbican.co.uk. Meanwhile, the Barbican website is yet to write the word Postponed across From The Jam’s July 11 gig this summer, already moved from April 3 after the Coronavirus lockdown. Watch this space for an update on a show built around the 40th anniversary of The Jam’s fourth studio album, Setting Sons, the one with The Eton Rifles, the Woking three-piece’s first top ten hit, peaking at number three.

“We can’t wait to perform the whole of Setting Sons live,” said Hastings when the 2020 tour was first announced. “The album has been noted as another one of The Jam’s best albums along with All Mod Cons. It seems that even the obscure album tracks like Little Boy Soldiers and Thick As Thieves are as popular when we play them live as the hit singles.” Will that tour ever happen? Wait and see.

Heaven is a place at York Barbican on Belinda Carlisle’s The Decades Tour

Carlisle to York: Belinda confirms Barbican date for October 2021 on The Decades Tour

CALIFORNIAN singer, musician and autobiographical author Belinda Carlisle will return to York Barbican on October 14 2021 on The Decades Tour, marking her 35-year solo career.

Now 61 and living in Bangkok, Thailand, with husband Morgan Mason, she last played the Barbican in September 2019 on her Runaway Horses 30th Anniversary Tour.

To go to Carlisle next autumn, tickets will be on sale from Friday, May 29 at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Belinda made her name as the lead singer of The Go-Go’s, the all-female band formed in Los Angeles in 1978, and enjoyed solo success with 1987 chart topper Heaven ls A Place On Earth, I Get Weak, Leave A Light On, Summer Rain, Circle In The Sand, Runaway Horses, In Too Deep and Always Breaking My Heart.

In 2010, she charted her colourful life story in her autobiography Lips Unsealed. In 2021, on The Decades Tour, she will “celebrate her rich musical catalogue and chameleonic musical prowess”.

The itinerary will close with Carlisle’s second Yorkshire show, playing Sheffield City Hall on October 30.

Yes rearrange Relayer gig at York Barbican for May 2021 on The Album Series Tour

Yes! Yes confirm new York Barbican date on The Album Series Tour in 2021

THERE will be no Yes show on May 29 at York Barbican after Covid-19 intervened, but, yes, The Album Series Tour has been rearranged.

All tickets remain valid for the new date, May 19 2021, when Yes will perform their 1974 album Relayer in its entirety, complemented by Yes prog-rock favourites.

Band member Alan White says: “Many things have changed in the world these past few months. My appreciation for the freedoms we’ve enjoyed in the past has grown, along with my gratitude for all the people caring for humanity throughout the world.

“I can’t wait to be on stage again in front of real audiences, playing Yes music. I’m hoping we can bring some joy and positivity back into our lives. Please take care and stay safe, we want to see our many fans and friends again in 2021.”

Believe in Yes tour day: The poster confirms the rearranged dates for Yes’s Album Series Tour 2021

The tour line-up features White, on drums; Steve Howe, guitars; Geoff Downes, keyboards; Jon Davison, vocals; Billy Sherwood, bass guitar and backing vocals, and Jay Schellen, drums and percussion.

The Album Series Tour format comprises two sets with full production and a high-definition video wall. The first will focus on classic numbers from Yes’s extensive catalogue; the second will be devoted to Relayer, the band’s seventh studio album.

Relayer marked a “slight change in direction” as Patrick Moraz replaced Rick Wakeman on keyboards, bringing an avant-garde feel to the recordings, typified by the Gates Of Delirium, almost 22 minutes in length, with Moraz’s keyboards and Howe’s guitar to the fore in the battle scene. The battle gives way to the beautiful ballad Soon, a prayer for peace and hope.

Yes, yet not Yes but “Yes, Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, RickWakeman”. See below for the distinction…

Further highlights are Sound Chaser, a prog-rock-jazz fusion experiment heavily influenced by Moraz’s style, and To Be Over, a calm and gentle album closer, based on a Howe melody.

Released in late 1974 on Atlantic Records, Relayer reached number four in the UK album chart and number five in the US Billboard chart.

York Barbican will be the only Yorkshire venue on the nine-date 2021 British and European tour. Tickets are on sale at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Didn’t Yes play York Barbican in June 2018? Yes and no. It was not this Yes, but the brand of Yes that has to call itself Yes, Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman, not Yes.

Seasick Steve strives for lockdown path to Love & Peace en route to July 24 album

Seasick Steve seeks a road to Love & Peace

CALIFORNIAN blues tornado Seasick Steve is keeping busy in lockdown as he builds anticipation for the July 24 release of his tenth studio album, Love & Peace.

“Since we all locked up, I was thinking about music,” says the 69-year-old singer, songwriter and builder of customised scrap guitars.

“I was supposed to be going on tour, but now I can’t do it. For me, music is all about y’all … it’s about playing for people. I surely miss you all and wish I could be out there playing for you.”

Seasick by the sea: Seasick Steve takes in the view

Instead, Seasick has taken to plugging in and blasting out his veteran boogie blues from his kitchen live on Facebook every Sunday night.

What’s more, he has released the homemade Live To An Empty Room concert video, available to watch at youtube.com/watch?v=5k3_-Iu0iGg&feature=youtu.be.

Seasick Steve’s blend of DIY inventiveness and dogged determination is present too in the video for his new album taster, Clock Is Running. Setting Seasick’s raw riffage to Dan Magnusson’s rollicking rhythms, the song’s message chimes with our lockdown times as he looks forward once more to  hitting the road and seeing the world, while urging you to take a chance while you still can. 

The artwork for Seasick Steve’s July 24 album Love & Peace

The video plays on that concept of making the most of things, in Seasick’s case when faced with trying to make a compelling visual in lockdown.  Seasick – real name Steven Gene Wold – filmed himself jamming the song on the porch and sent the footage to New Beach to work their magic in creating an imaginative animated video.  

It surely will be the only time he will be seen playing an imaginary guitar, as you can witness at youtube.com/watch?v=H9G2JSuvPIU&feature=youtu.be

Both Clock Is Running and the title track are available as instant downloads for those who pre-order the album from Seasick’s official store at seasicksteve.tmstor.es/, as well as on all streaming platforms.

Seasick note: Seasick Steve plucks his guitar

Seasick, who played a sold-out show at York Barbican in April 2015, has written an album full of hope for the future, against the tide of these troubled times, combining boogie, blues, rock, Americana and folk.

The track listing will be:  Love And Peace; Regular Man; I Will Do For You; Clock Is Running; Carni Days; Church Of Me; Toes In The Mud; My Woman; Ain’t Nothin’ Like The Boogie; Travelling Man; Ready Or Not and Mercy.

Released on the Contagious label, Love & Peace’s various formats will include a heavyweight clear vinyl, packaged with a signed print of the cover.

Expect peak performance from Sir Ranulph Fiennes at York Barbican next March

SIR Ranulph Fiennes’s destination on March 24 2021 will be York Barbican, his mission to deliver his live show Living Dangerously for the third time in the city. 

Named by the Guinness Book of Records as “the world’s greatest living explorer” and in Burke’s Peerage as Sir Ranulph Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd Baronet of Banbury,  he has spent his life in pursuit of extreme adventure, risking life and limb in “some of the most ambitious private expeditions ever undertaken”.

Among his many record-breaking achievements, he was the first explorer to reach both the North and South Poles, the first to cross the Antarctic and the Arctic Ocean, and the first to circumnavigate the Earth’s surface along its polar axis.

In Living Dangerously, Sir Ranulph, takes a journey through his life, from his early years to the present day. Both light-hearted and poignant, the show revisits the 76-year-old explorer’s childhood and school misdemeanours, his army life and early expeditions.

He will share insights into his transglobal expedition and his present global reach challenge:  his goal to become the first person in the world to cross both polar ice caps and climb the highest mountain on each of the seven continents.

Sir Ranulph presented Living Dangerously previously in York at the Grand Opera House in July 2018 and June 2019.

Tickets for his 2021 return go on sale on Friday, April 24 at 10am at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Rufus Wainwright unfollows the rules on new album ahead of York Barbican gig

The tour poster for Rufus Wainwright’s Unfollow The Rules show at York Barbican

RUFUS Wainwright will follow the summer release of his new album Unfollow The Rules with an autumn tour booked into York Barbican for October 27.

The American-Canadian baroque, operatic and indie pop singer-songwriter was the first guest for the Royal Albert Hall’s free special isolation sessions, #RoyalAlbertHome, last night.

Out on BMG on July 10, the typically fearless, mischievous and honest Unfollow The Rules will be Wainwright’s ninth studio album and his first set of new compositions since Out Of The Game in 2012.

“I consider Unfollow The Rules my first fully mature album,” says Rufus, 46-year-old son of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle. “It is like a bookend to the beginning of my career.”

“I consider Unfollow The Rules my first fully mature album,” says Rufus Wainwright. Picture: Tony Hauser

Wainwright will be joined on the road by a new band, featuring Los Angeles guitarist and producer Brian Green, who has worked previously with John Legend, and Phoenix singer-songwriter and keyboardist Rachel Eckroth, erstwhile collaborator with KT Tunstall.

Looking forward to performing a setlist of Wainwright old and new post-Lockdown, Rufus says: “For me, thinking about this tour is like a light at the end of this dark tunnel that we are all in together. It gives me hope and confidence that we will rise above this collectively.

“And while it might seem that we are not moving forward swiftly in this dark long tunnel, I know that we will reach the light again and be able to be together. I cannot wait to be part of that moment for my fans and share this music live with them.”

Tickets for Rufus Wainwright: Unfollow The Rules at York Barbican go on sale on April 17 at 10am at yorkbarbican.co.uk. 

No Joker: York Barbican’s film screening with an orchestra has been cancelled

MEANWHILE, York Barbican has announced that Joker: Live In Concert on May 17 is off.

“It is with great disappointment that we can confirm our Joker: Live in Concert performance will no longer go ahead due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” the Barbican statement said. “All tickets will be refunded, and please contact your point of purchase if you have any questions.”

The show would have have featured Todd Phillips’s award-laden film being accompanied by an orchestra performing Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score live to build a “vivid, visceral and entirely new Joker viewing experience”.

Exit Bake Off, re-enter Sandi Toksvig in tour two of National Trevor at York Barbican

Goodbye to Bake Off but back on the road for Sandi Toksvig on her National Trevor travels

AFTER her back-out from Bake Off to “focus on other work projects”, Sandi Toksvig will return to York Barbican on September 22 on her second National Trevor tour.

In January, the Danish-born presenter, 61, announced she would be leaving The Great British Bake Off after three years of co-hosting Channel 4’s cookery contest with The Mighty Boosh comedian Noel Fielding.

Filmed last September, Sandi’s last episode of The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer was broadcast on Tuesday night.

She first performed National Trevor at York Barbican on January 28 2019 as part of a sold-out winter tour, when the News Quiz, QI and Bake Off host brought her trademark warmth, grounded nous and authority to a show that was part stand-up, part lecture as she discussed what unites us in a Toksvigian celebration of all that is weird and wonderful in the everyday.

Back on the road this autumn, the show’s publicity talks of “Sandi realising some people harbour an ambition to be a National Treasure, but following a misunderstanding with a friend, she has decided to become a National Trevor: half misprint, half Danish comedian”.

“Expect tall stories, fascinating and funny facts, silly jokes, a quick-fire Q&A and even a little quiz,” says Sandi of a show that embraces anecdotes, potted histories, family connections and darker topics handled with levity. “You certainly won’t be getting tap-dancing, leotards or a forward roll,” she promises.

Sandi launched her career in 1982 on Number 73, a long-running children’s Saturday morning show, since when her CV has taken in such shows as Call My Bluff and Whose Line Is It Anyway? and hosting BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz.

In 2016, she took over Stephen Fry’s seat as host of BBC2 quiz show QI, followed by her joining The Great British Bake Off team on its switch to Channel 4 in 2017.

Exit Sandi from Bake Off. Re-enter Sandi Toksvig: The National Trevor Tour, a show whose parting wisdom last time was a plea to “enjoy life and seize the day”. Oh, and to seize the biscuit too. “Did you know eating biscuits was dangerous,” she said. “And you still do it, you wonderful risk-takers.”

Tickets for September 22 are newly on sale at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Christmas? Yes, Christmas is on its way as Kate Rusby confirms York Barbican concert

Kate Rusby in her Holly Headwear. Picture: David Lindsay

WHAT a relief to be able to mention another C-word in these Coronavirus-clouded times.  Christmas. Kate Rusby at Christmas, to be precise.

Tickets for the Barnsley nightingale’s now traditional York Barbican Christmas concert on December 20 go on sale tomorrow morning (April 10) at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Kate’s sparkling Christmas shows draw on merry Christmas versions of carols, once banned from frowning Victorian churches for being too jolly, that instead found their home in the pubs of South Yorkshire (and North Derbyshire and Cornwall). 

“Christmas songs were seeping into our brains,” says Kate Rusby, recalling her childhood exposure to South Yorkshire ‘pub sings’. Picture: David Angel

For 200 years, those South Yorkshire communities have congregated on Sunday lunchtimes from late-November to belt out, for example, variations on While Shepherds Watched.

“The Christmas side of things began for me in the ‘pub sings’ around South Yorkshire,” Kate told CharlesHutchPress last winter ahead of her York Barbican concert with her regular folk band and “brass boys” quintet on December 18.

“We were taken along as kids; our parents would be in the main room singing away, while us kids were sat with the other kids in the tap room, colouring [pictures] and drinking pop, unaware that the carols and Christmas songs were seeping into our brains!

“I decided anyone who adores Christmas music is called a ‘Holly Head’, ” says Kate Rusby, explaining her album title

“They’re mostly songs thrown out of the churches by the Victorians as they were thought to be far too happy! Ha! Those who loved singing them took them to the pubs, where you could combine a good old sing with beer and a natter, and there the songs have remained and been kept alive, being passed down the generations.”

So much so, Kate has released five albums of carols and original winter songs on her own Pure Records label: 2008’s Sweet Bells, 2011’s While Mortals Sleep, 2015’s The Frost Is All Over, 2017’s Angels And Men and last year’s Holly Head

“Well, I decided anyone who adores Christmas music is called a ‘Holly Head’,” she said, explaining the title. “You know, like car fanatics are petrol heads. I thought it was the perfect title for such people, and I’m a fully paid-up member of the Holly Head club.”

The album artwork for Kate Rusby’s 2019 album, Holly Head

Songs on Holly Head ranged from the Rusby original The Holly King, to a cover of John Rox’s novelty Christmas number Hippo For Christmas, via the carol Salute The Morn, a brace of God’s Own Country variations, Yorkshire Three Ships and Bleak Midwinter (Yorkshire) and Kate’s sixth iteration of While Shepherds Watched.

“There’s over 30 different versions of While Shepherds Watched that get sung in the pubs here in South Yorkshire, so I’ve still got a lot to go at,” said Kate last December. “This one is actually to the tune of a different song that I also love, but I wasn’t that keen on the words, then realised it went with the While Shepherds words, so yey, another has now been invented.” 

Picking the song most significant to her on Holly Head, Kate chose her own composition The Holly King. “It celebrates the more pagan side of Christmas. I wrote it after reading about the winter king, The Holly King, and the summer king, The Ivy King,” she said.

Kate Rusby: Writing for her next Christmas record. Picture: David Angel

“Legend has it that the two met twice a year and had almighty battles. Going into winter, the Holly King would win and reign for the winter months. Then the Ivy King would wake and overthrow the Holly King and reign through the summer months, and on they went in a perfect cycle.

“I just loved the images that it conjured up and a song came flowing out. I gave him a wife, The Queen of Frost, who creeps across the land to be with him for his time. In fact, I’m now writing her song, so she will appear on the next Christmas album, I’m sure.”

May The Queen of Frost glide her icy path to York Barbican come December 20.