AS album number three arrives so soon, why are the Irish band being as prolific as the early Beatles? Two Big Egos In A Small Car culture podcasters Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson discuss Skinty Fia in Episode 89.
Plus: what happens to the BBC when the licence fee ends? Anything else? Sheffield Leadmill update; The Divine Comedy at York Barbican review; Gary Barlow’s show with a difference, and why Mischief and Penn &Teller’s Magic Goes Wrong is wand-erful.
AVOIDING the “devastation of stag and hen parties” (copyright Rachael Maskell, York Central MP), Charles Hutchinson finds reasons aplenty to venture out.
Play of the week: Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming, York Theatre Royal, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm; Thursday, 2pm; Saturday, 2.30pm
GAVIN & Stacey star Mathew Horne and Keith Allen star in Jamie Glover’s new production of The Homecoming, Harold Pinter’s bleakly funny 1965 exploration of family and relationships.
University professor Teddy returns to his North London childhood home from America, accompanied by his wife Ruth, to find his father, uncle and brothers still living there. As life becomes a barely camouflaged battle for power and sexual supremacy, who will emerge victorious: poised and elegant Ruth or her husband’s dysfunctional family? Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Outdoor gig of the week: Tom Figgins, Music At The Mill, Stillington Mill, near York, tonight, 7.30pm
SINGER-SONGWRITER Tom Figgins returns to At The Mill’s garden stage after last summer’s sold-out performance, with the promise of new material.
Figgins’ vocal range, guitar playing and compelling lyrics caught the ear of presenter Chris Evans,who hosted him on his BBC Radio 2 show and invited him to play the main stage at CarFest North & South.
His instrumental works have been heard on Countryfile and Panorama and he is the composer for the Benlunar podcast, now on its fourth series. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill.
Classical concert of the week: York Guildhall Orchestra, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm
YORK Guildhall Orchestra’s final concert of their 2021-2022 season welcomes the long-awaited return of pianist Martin Roscoe, originally booked to perform in May 2020.
Retained from that Covid-cancelled programme are Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite, with its combination of cheeky jazz tunes and the Russian’s mastery of orchestration, and Dohnanyi’s mock-serious take on a children’s nursery rhyme. Leeds Festival Chorus join in for Elgar’s Music Makers. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Eighties’ nostalgia of the week: Go West & Paul Young, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.30pm
PETER Cox and Richard Drummer’s slick duo, Go West, and Luton soul singer Paul Young go north this weekend for a double bill of Eighties’ pop.
Expect We Close Our Eyes, Call Me, Don’t Look Down and King Of Wishful Thinking, from the Pretty Woman soundtrack, in Go West’s set. The chart-topping Wherever I Lay My Hat, Love Of The Common People, Everytime You Go Away and Everything Must Change will be on Young’s To Do list. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Fun and word games of the week: Paul Merton’s Impro Chums, Grand Opera House, York, Monday, 8pm
HAVE I Got News For You regular and Comedy Store Players co-founder Paul Merton teams up with fellow seasoned improvisers Richard Vranch, Suki Webster and Mike McShane and accompanist Kirsty Newton to flex their off-the-cuff comedy muscles on their first antics roadshow travels since August 2019.
“What audiences like about what we do is that we haven’t lost our sense of play, our sense of fun, the sort of thing that gets knocked out of you because you have to get married or get a mortgage or find a job,” says Merton. Let the fun and games sparked by audience suggestions begin. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.
Homage, not tribute show, of the week: Hayley Ria Christian in Midnight Train To Georgia, A Celebration Of Gladys Knight, Grand Opera House, York, Friday, 7.30pm
HAYLEY Ria Christian’s show is “definitely not a tribute, but a faithful portrayal that truly pays homage to the voice of a generation, the one and only Empress of Soul, Ms Gladys Knight”.
In the late Sixties and Seventies, Gladys Knight & The Pips enjoyed such hits as Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me, Help Me Make It Through The Night, Try To Remember/The Way We Were, Baby, Don’t Change Your Mind and her signature song Midnight Train To Georgia. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.
Comedy gig of the week: Milton Jones in Milton: Impossible, Harrogate Theatre, May 21, 7.30pm
ONE man. One Mission. Is it possible? “No, not really,” says Kew comedian Milton Jones, the shock-haired matador of the piercing one-liner, as he reveals the truth behind having once been an international spy, but then being given a somewhat disappointing new identity that forced him to appear on Mock The Week.
“But this is also a love story with a twist, or at least a really bad sprain,” says Jones. “Is it all just gloriously daft nonsense, or is there a deeper meaning?” Find out next weekend. Box office: 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.
Protest gig of the week: Grace Petrie, The Crescent, York, May 23, 7.30pm
DIY protest singer Grace Petrie emerged from lockdown with Connectivity, her 2021 polemical folk album that reflects on what humanity means in a world struggling against division and destruction.
Petrie’s honest songs seek a way to carry on the fight for a better tomorrow when every day you are told you have lost already. Bad news: her York gig has sold out. Good news: she will be playing Social, Hull, too on May 18 at 8pm (box office, seetickets.com). On both nights, she will be accompanied by long-time collaborator, singer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Moss.
DOOM’S day is booked for Friday, September 16 2022, when gloomy YouTube channel phenomenon Daniel Howell delivers his End Of The World Tour pronouncements at York Barbican.
Tickets for Howell’s darkly comic stage show We’re All Doomed! go on sale on the aptly apocalyptic, unlucky-for-some Friday the 13th from 10am at yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Who is Daniel Howell, you ask? He has more than six million subscribers to his YouTube channel, and when announcing his comeback after a three-year hiatus, his accompanying video surpassed 1.5 million views in 24 hours.
We’re All Doomed! will find Howell “as stressed and depressingly dressed as ever” in a night of savage self-deprecation, soul-searching and over-sharing his deepest fears and desires, when he invites you to become part of a community of doomers sharing the final days as he “tours the world while it’s still here”.
“When there’s so many apocalyptic scenarios threatening to destroy us, it might be tempting to give into the gloom,” his tour publicity machine spouts. “But with enough sarcasm, satire, and a desire to skewer everything that’s wrong with society, Daniel is determined to find some hope for humanity…or at least laugh like it’s the end of the world because it probably is.”
Howell has expressed his outlook on life in books and an award-winning show on BBC Radio 1, while clocking up billions of views of his online content and performing high-concept comedy to 500,000 people in 18 countries.
He may make jokes at his own expense, but Howell has shared his serious struggles with his sexuality and mental health too, culminating in his Gay And Not Proud special and his chart-topping bestseller, You Will Get Through This Night, a no-nonsense guide to looking after your sanity, as well as being an ambassador for Stonewall and Young Minds.
Come September, We’re All Doomed! will “demand we honestly accept the fate of humanity with all the apocalypses threatening to consume us – and if we can’t find a reason to feel hopeful for the future, at least laugh like it’s the end of the world…because it probably is”. Even more so now than in the earlier sentence with exactly the same sentiment.
AS not only tourists and stag and hen parties invade York, but so do UFOs, dinosaurs, even King Kong, Charles Hutchinson plots an escape route to other delights.
Exhibition launch of the week: Lincoln Lightfoot’s Revelation, Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social, York, today until July 7
SOUTH Bank surrealist Lincoln Lightfoot is letting his gloriously ridiculous B-movie nightmares loose on unsuspecting York at the Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social cafe bars from this weekend.
For two months, past meets present and a forewarned future both in retro art style and subject matter in Revelation, his humorously absurdist depictions of surreal encounters with beasts and creatures as they take over landmark locations.
On show in Micklegate Social from this evening’s 6pm to 10pm launch will be the first release of Lincoln’s larger, compelling paintings, 150 by 100cm in size, complemented by giclee prints of those new works at Fossgate Social. All works are for sale.
Here comes the science bit: Morgan & West in Unbelievable Science, York Theatre Royal, today, 2pm
GREAT Yorkshire Fringe festival favourites Morgan & West return to York to present their new show Unbelievable Science, full of captivating chemistry, phenomenal physics and bonkers biology.
Spiffing chaps Rhys Morgan and Robert West combine their trademark showmanship and silliness from their decade of magic shows with genuine scientific knowledge and a lifelong love of learning to create a fun science extravaganza for all ages.
Fires, explosions, lightning on stage, optical illusions, mass audience experiments and 3D shadow puppets await all those “wily enough to come along to be intrigued by science”. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Not just cricket: Test Match Special Live with Agnew & Tuffers, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm
PHIL Tufnell and BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew take you inside the Beeb’s famous TMS commentary box to share memories from their playing careers and beyond the boundary.
What was it like facing Shane Warne in his prime? Which member of the TMS team never buys dinner? What really happened the night after the 2005 Ashes triumph? Enjoy never-before-seen footage of iconic commentary moments and discover what life is really like watching England from the finest seat in the house. Special guest will be TMS statistics guru and BBC Radio 4 comedy presenter Andy Zaltzman. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Festival of the week: TakeOver, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday
THIS week-long arts festival is organised and run entirely by final-year York St John University students. Unveiling hidden worlds of the unspoken to curious minds of any age, the event combines local and personal stories with an exploration of the wider world through a combination of theatre, memory and art.
Among those taking part will be Green Hammerton company Badapple Theatre performing artistic director Kate Bramley’s Elephant Rock on Tuesday at 7.30pm in their first Theatre Royal visit in a decade. For the full programme, go to yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Film event of the week: Yorkshire Silent Film Festival presents A Throw Of Dice (PG), National Centre for Early Music, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm
A THROW Of Dice, an Indian box-office hit from 1929, rivals Cecil B De Mille for screen spectacle in its lavishly romantic story of rival Indian kings – one good, one bad – who fall in love with the same woman.
Based on an episode from The Mahabarata and filmed in India with 10,000 extras, 1,000 horses, 50 elephants and an all-Indian cast, this silent classic will be accompanied by a live score, improvised by Indian pianist Utsav Lal. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.
Play of the week: The Stockton Foresters in A Bunch Of Amateurs, Stockton on the Forest Village Hall, near York, May 12 to 14, 7.30pm
THE Stockton Foresters’ first full-scale production post-lockdown is Ian Hislop and Nick Newman’s A Bunch Of Amateurs, the story of an amateur dramatic group’s determination to overcome all odds to stave off closure.
Written by two of the original Spitting Image writers, this fast-paced, sharp-edged comedy is performed frequently on the amateur circuit, on this occasion by Louisa Littler’s cast of Stuart Leeming, Karen Ilsley, Holly Smith, Russell Dowson, Jane Palmer, Peter Keen and Lynne Edwards. Box office: 01904 400583.
Outdoor gig of the week: Shed Seven, Doncaster Racecourse Live After Racing, May 14
SHED Seven’s live-after-racing gig at Doncaster Racecourse will come under starter’s orders for a third time next Saturday after two false starts.
The York band’s outdoor Donny debut had to be scrapped twice, first booked for August 15 2020, then May 15 last spring, but each show was declared a non-runner under the Government’s pandemic lockdown restrictions.
To book, go to: doncaster-racecourse.co.uk/whats-on/music-live-featuring-shed-seven.
Tour announcement of the week: Sara Pascoe, Success Story, York Barbican, November 24; Harrogate Royal Hall, April 21 2023
AFTER contemplating the positive aspects of self-imposed celibacy in LadsLadsLads, Success Story finds comedian Sara Pascoe, a few years later, happily married with a beautiful baby son.
In her new show, she will examine what it is to be successful, how we define it and how it feels when what we want eludes us. Expect jokes about status, celebrities, plus Sara’s new fancy lifestyle versus infertility, her multiple therapists and career failures. Box office: York, yorkbarbican.co.uk; Harrogate, 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.
COMEDIAN Sara Pascoe will play York Barbican on November 24 on her 50-date Success Story tour.
Further Yorkshire performances will follow at Sheffield Octagon on November 25, Hull City Hall on March 17 2023 and Harrogate Royal Hall on April 21. Tickets are on sale at sarapascoe.co.uk/sara-on-tour.
Pascoe, now 40, decided she wanted to be famous at 14 years old. Since then, she has auditioned for Barrymore, scared Dead Or Alive’s Pete Burns and ruined Hugh Grant’s birthday, but look at her now, she says.
Please look, she needs you to look. And clap. And laugh. And then clap again…on her “biggest and best tour of her life, where she will be playing in parts of the UK and Ireland that she hasn’t performed at before”.
Dagenham-born Pascoe’s last nationwide tour, LadsLadsLads, culminated in two London Palladium shows, filmed for a BBC2 stand-up special, Sara Pascoe: LadsLadsLads.
Since then, things have most certainly changed for Pascoe, she says. After contemplating the positive aspects of self-imposed celibacy in LadsLadsLads, Success Story finds Sara, a few years later, happily married with a beautiful baby son.
In her new show, she will examine what it is to be successful, how we define it and how it feels when what we want eludes us. Expect jokes about status, celebrities, plus Sara’s new fancy lifestyle versus infertility, her multiple therapists and career failures.
Comedian, writer and actor Pascoe wrote and starred in the BBC2 sitcom Out Of Her Mind and hosts BBC2’s The Great British Sewing Bee, BBC’s Last Woman On Earth, Dave’sComedians Giving Lectures and Comedy Central’s Guessable.
She has hosted the BBC’s Festival Of Funny and Live At The Apollo’s Christmas Special and appeared as a panellist on Mock The Week, Have I Got News For You and Would I Lie To You?. Later this year, she can be seen in the new Amazon series Katherine Ryan Backstage.
Pascoe has written and performed in the BBC Radio 4 series Modern Monkey and BBC2’s Sara Pascoe vs Monogamy, a short inspired by her first book, Animal. Her second book, Sex Power Money, was accompanied by a podcast that garnered millions of listens and multiple award nominations.
SEEKING Divine inspiration? Here comes Charles Hutchinson with his guide to what’s hot, from topical comedy to charming songwriters, a steamy thriller to intense jazz.
Charmer of the week: The Divine Comedy, York Barbican, tonight, 7.45pm
THE Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon plays York this weekend for the first time since the Irish chamber-pop leprechaun’s Minster concert in May 2011.
Hannon will be showcasing his 2022 compilation, Charmed Life – The Best Of The Divine Comedy, marking the completion of the 51-year-old songwriter, musical score composer and cricket enthusiast’s third decade as a recording artist
“I’ve been luckier than most,” Hannon says. “I get to sing songs to people for a living and they almost always applaud.” Hence that Charmed Life title. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Outdoor dance vibes of the long weekend: Dance Dance Dance, A Damn Big Dance Party, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Sunday, 6pm to 11pm
HEADPHONES on as At The Mill plays host to a three-channel Silent Disco with a bunch of very cool guest DJs, a live set from Flatcap Carnival and the pizza oven fired up for orders.
Organiser Alexander Flanagan Wright says: “We got Joshua Pulleyn coming. We got Bolshee taking over a channel. We got Sarah Rorke blasting out some Northern Soul vibes. Tom Figgins is metaphorically spinning a track or two.
“Paul Smith has some new punk and old-school hip hop heading your way. Abbi Ollive has a solid hour of girl power. And I’m lining up a lot of Chemical Brothers, Prodigy and Beyoncé as I can. Come dance. It’s gotta be mega. There’s a handful of tickets left at atthemill.org.”
Homecoming of the week: Beth McCarthy, The Crescent, York, Monday, doors 7.30pm
BETH McCarthy, now living in London, heads home to play her first York gig since March 2019.
Singer-songwriter Beth has been buoyed by the online response to her singles and videos, drawing 4.8 million likes and 300,000 followers on TikTok and attracting 465,000 monthly listeners and nine million plays of her She Gets The Flowers on Spotify. Box office: myticket.co.uk/artists/beth-mccarthy.
Comedy gigs of the week: Stewart Lee, Snowflake/Tornado, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Thursday, 7.30pm
DELAYED by lockdowns, Stewart Lee finally brings Snowflake/Tornado – a double bill of two 60-minute sets, back-to-back nightly – to York with new material for 2022.
Heavily rewritten in the light of two pandemic-enforced dormant years, Snowflake looks at how the Covid/Brexit era has influenced the culture war between lovely snowflakes and horrible people.
Tornadoquestions Lee’s position in the comedy marketplace after Netflix mistakenly listed his show as “reports of sharks falling from the skies are on the rise again. Nobody on the Eastern Seaboard is safe.” Good luck trying to acquire a ticket on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Psychological thriller of the week: Fatal Attraction, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm matinees, Wednesday and Saturday
JAMES Dearden, screenwriter for Adrian Lyne’s 1987 “bunny boiler” American psycho thriller, has written a new stage version of Fatal Attraction for 21st century audiences, mobile phones et al.
The plot remains the same: happily married New York attorney Dan Gallagher (Oliver Farnworth) has a night on the town with editor Alex Forrest (Susie Amy) that boils up into passion.
Dan returns home to wife Beth (Louise Redknapp), trying to forget what happened, but Alex has only one rule: you play fair with her and she’ll play fair with you. If not…! Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.
Smile of the week: Marti Pellow, Greatest Hits Tour, York Barbican, Tuesday, 7.30pm
LET Marti Pellow introduce his Greatest Hits Tour show. “It’s about finally being able to come together to celebrate love, life, and remember those we may have lost along the way. Most of all, it’s about enjoyment and celebrating the here and now. Get your dancing shoes on: it’s time to party with Marti.”
Expect songs from his Wet Wet Wet and solo catalogues up to 2021’s Stargazer album, cover versions too, plus reflective chat as he sits on the edge of the stage. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Jazz gig of the week: Trish Clowes: My Iris, National Centre for Early Music, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm
SAXOPHONIST Trish Clowes leads her jazz band My Iris in their York debut, providing pianist Ross Stanley, guitarist Chris Montague and drummer James Maddren with a high-intensity platform for individual expression and improvisation.
Driving grooves and lingering melodic lines combine as they “seamlessly morph between earthy restlessness and futuristic dreamscapes”. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.
Indoor dance show of the week: Terpsichoring Dance Company in Me, Myself And Misha, York Theatre Royal Studio, Friday, 7.45pm
TERPSICHORING Dance Company’s Me, Myself & Misha is a heartfelt, autobiographical 40-minute show devised and performed by award-winning dance artist Ana Silverio, who explores the physical and emotional journey, full of challenges and joys, that one woman undertakes to become a mother.
Universal themes of pregnancy and labour are presented, using a mix of physical theatre and dance alongside an original and moving musical score. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Fundraiser alert: Yorkraine, for DEC Ukraine Appeal, Grand Opera House, York, May 24, 7.30pm
YORKRAINE’s benefit concert combines four of York’s finest cover bands, The Supermodels, The Mothers, The Y Street Band and Sister Madly, plus acoustic slots from Alex Victoria and Mal Fry and guest speakers.
The evening of pop and rock classics from the past six decades will raise funds for the British Red Cross DEC appeal to aid Ukrainian refugees who find themselves in dire circumstances. All artists, hosts, sound tech and crew have donated their time free of charge. Box office: atgtickets.com/York.
Gig announcement of the week: Gary Barlow, A Different Stage, Grand Opera House, York, June 10 and 11
TAKE That legend, singer, songwriter, composer, producer, talent show judge and author Gary Barlow is adding a theatrical one-man show to his repertoire.
“I’ve done shows where it has just been me and a keyboard,” says Barlow. “I’ve done shows where I sit and talk to people. I’ve done shows where I’ve performed as part of a group.
“But this one, well, it’s like all of those, but none of them. When I walk out this time, well, it’s going to be a very different stage altogether.” Now the bad news: tickets went on sale at 9.30am yesterday and sold out by 10am, but Pray there could yet be a silver lining…
PULL on your dancing shoes, it’s time to party with Marti, says that Scottish fellow Pellow ahead of his Greatest Hits Tour gig at York Barbican on Tuesday night.
York is one of five additions to the second leg of a post-lockdown itinerary that opened at Scarborough Spa Theatre on November 11 when the former Wet Wet Wet frontman, soulful solo singer and musical theatre star could not wait to re-connect with his devotees.
“Throughout lockdown, I was inundated by beautiful messages from fans, asking me to please organise a tour once we come out of these terrible times,” said the Clydebank singer at the time.
“Twelve million people tuned in for the Lockdown Sessions I did and each one of you has inspired me to make this tour happen this year.”
How did those autumn shows go? “Great! To say I was enthusiastic is an understatement and the audiences were so up for it because concert venues were the first places to close for Covid and the last to reopen,” says Marti, whose tour mission statement is to celebrate love, life and those we lost along the way.
“Calling it the Greatest Hits Tour was perfect too. As much as I did want to play songs from Stargazer [his March 2021 album written in homage to his heroes], and I did do that, most of the night hangs on being a celebration of getting back together.
“They were all shouting back at me, ‘No Marti, no party!’, as I did all those songs from multiple decades. After we’d navigated that year and a half we’d all been through, the set picked itself, whether I wrote the song, co-wrote it, sang it solo or with Wet Wet Wet, or it was a song I’d covered.”
On the tour’s second leg, that format remains the same; “In the more intimate parts of the show, I like to sit down and reflect, and I have a sophisticated audience so they’ll let me do that, dangling my feet off the edge of the stage and shooting the breeze,” says Marti, now 57.
“I’m forever mixing it up or changing the running order. I like people to be surprised! Maybe in the first song, I’ll look at them, and they’ll be turning their heads to the right thinking, ‘where’s he going here?!’
“It’s purely about reacting on the spot each evening. You’re thinking to yourself, ‘what’s going on with this audience?’. If it’s an attentive, ‘listening’ audience, I’ll squeeze in a few more ballads. Or maybe I’ll do songs that reflect on topics.
“It’s about how you set it up, like maybe pulling out a James Taylor Jackson Browne cover, or sharing a thought with them that they’ll relate to as audiences are storytellers themselves, remembering when they first heard a song or how their daughter always sang this song at the top of her voice in the back of the car.”
Marti has been delighted to find himself playing to such diverse crowds, whether they know him from Wet Wet Wet, his musical theatre performances or those Lockdown Sessions that went viral.
“What I find fascinating is the age range. At one of the shows I did last year, I met an elderly couple who said they were up having a dance, recalling how they first did that to a Wet Wet Wet song in 1987 when they were in their in their early 50s,” says Marti.
“Then I’ll be standing by a 17-year-old kid who says he’s come to the show because he’s seen me on YouTube and loved it.
“I think that’s got to do with me being a singer-songwriter, a storyteller, first catching an age group in their teens, but then you transcend that by doing half a dozen albums with your old band, 15 solo albums, and by being an eclectic artist, like doing songs from Broadway.
“Having that eclectic skill set transcends to the audience, who switch on to me through different media, including doing Kander and Ebb [Chicago] or being in Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers.”
Marti does not rest on his laurels. “I like spending some time in Ronnie Scott’s jazz club, where it’s about educating myself, and then applying that to what I do. That might switch on certain parts of the audience that will go on a journey with you,” he says.
“I know my audience through engaging with them, listening to what they say on social media. Like for the Greatest Hits Tour, I listened to them when I asked, ‘what kind of show do you want?’.
“Every day is a school day when I’m performing, and when I look at my audience, what I get back from them far outweighs what I give them.”
Describing the concert experience, Marti says: “It’s monumental, in the way that when you go to church, the power of the music will physically move people. Like with a ballad, where people remember how they fell in love to that song; there’s a shared experience when you’re in the moment and you’re engaging in your stagecraft.
“It’s all about escapism. That’s what it’s about. Whether it’s a three-minute pop song by The Beatles or a beautiful piece by Rachmaninov, it has a beauty to behold.
“If you’re the catalyst for that, seeing all those smiles makes it so worthwhile.”
Marti Pellow: Greatest Hits Tour, York Barbican, May 3, 7.30pm; doors 7pm. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
MAGIC is on the cards in the week ahead, and you can’t wrong if you follow Charles Hutchinson’s tips for what else to do and see.
Mayhem in April: Mischief in Magic Goes Wrong, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Sunday, 7.30pm (except Sunday); 2pm, Thursday and Sunday, 2.30pm, Saturday
MASTERS of catastrophic comedy Mischief team up with deconstructionist American magicians Penn & Teller for Magic Goes Wrong, their most daring calamitous show yet.
When a hapless gang of magicians strive to stage an evening of grand illusion to raise cash for charity, magic turns to mayhem, accidents spiral out of control and so does their fundraising target. Penn & Teller will not be appearing on stage. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Cult gig of the week: Kristin Hersh Electric Trio, The Crescent, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm
BOSTON songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and author Kristin Hersh, leader of indie rock band Throwing Muses and noise rock power trio 50 Foot Wave, is on the road with her hard-hitting super-group.
Joining Hersh, 55, will be 50 Foot Wave drummer Rob Ahlers and Throwing Muses bassist Fred Abong, who opens the night playing solo, promoting his Yellow Throat album. Expect Throwing Muses’s 2020 album, Sun Racket, to feature alongside material spanning Hersh’s 30-year career. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.
Anything could happen: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, York Theatre Royal, tonight, 7.30pm
OLIVIER Award winners Showstopper! return to York with…well, you decide! At each show, a new musical comedy is created from scratch as audience suggestions are transformed on the spot into an all-singing, all-dancing production.
From Hamilton in a hospital to Sondheim in the Sahara, you suggest it and The Showstoppers will sing it. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Blues gig of the week: Joanne Shaw Taylor, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.30pm
WEST Midlands blues guitarist and singer-songwriter Joanne Shaw Taylor plays York as one of five British dates this month, performing songs from 2021’s The Blues Album.
That album showcased covers of 11 rare blues classics first recorded by Albert King, Peter Green, Little Richard, Magic Sam, Aretha Franklin and Little Milton. Expect selections from her albums Reckless Heart, Wild, The Dirty Truth, Almost Always Never, Diamonds In The Dirt and White Sugar too. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Celebration of the week: York Guildhall Orchestra’s St George’s Day Concert, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Sunday, 7.30pm
YORK Guildhall Orchestra make their JoRo debut under the baton of conductor Simon Wright, who turns the spotlight on English composers in an Anglophile programme of light music to mark St George’s Day.
“Come down for a springtime evening of joyful music and not a dragon in sight,” says Wright, who will be combining favourite pieces with lesser-known gems. Sullivan, Elgar and Handel feature; so do Strachy’s Party Mood (from Housewives’ Choice), Wood’s Barwick Green (The Archers) and Coates’s By The Sleepy Lagoon (Desert Island Discs). Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Family musical of the week: NE Musicals York in The Wind In The Willows The Musical, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, April 27 to May 1, 7.30pm; 2.30pm matinees, Saturday, Sunday
NE Musicals York transform the JoRo theatre into a riverbank and wildwood for director and designer Steve Tearle’s York premiere of Julian Fellowes’ stage adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s story with a score by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.
Join Ratty (Finlay Butler), Mole (Jack Hambleton), Badger (Tom Henshaw) and the impulsive Mr Toad (Lee Harris), whose insatiable need for speed lands him in serious bother. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Exhibition launch of the week: Lynda Heaton, Expressions In Watercolour, Village Gallery, Colliergate, York, Tuesday to June 4
SINCE retiring, Selby artist Lynda Heaton has spent much of her time painting in her home studio. “I’m passionate about watercolour painting and love the way the colours mingle and move across the paper, sometimes giving surprising effects,” she says.
“My works come from my imagination or from memories of somewhere I’ve been and the mood of that place.” Other pieces are inspired by the natural world, the colours, textures and rhythms found in nature.
Quick return of the week: Diversity: Connected, York Barbican, Wednesday, 7.45pm
HOT on the heels of their April 4 visit, London street dancers Diversity return to York Barbican due to public demand as part of their 79-show 2022 tour.
In a show created by choreographer Ashley Banjo, the 2009 Britain’s Got Talent winners will be building their routines around the internet, social media, the digital era and how it connects us all. Their Black Lives Matter-inspired dance, premiered on Britain’s Got Talent to a flood of complaints to Ofcom in September 2020, definitely features. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
An Evening Without Kate Bush but with Sarah-Louise Young, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Thursday, 7.30pm
THE “chaotic cabaret cult”, An Evening Without Kate Bush”, finds Cabaret Whore, The Showstoppers, La Soiree performer Sarah-Louise Young teaming up theatre maker Russell Lucas to explore the music and mythology of one of the most influential voices in British music.
Kate’s not there, but you are, for a show that is as much about fandom as Bush’s songs and wider cultural impact. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
DIVERSITY’S Connected tour may have begun as a tenth anniversary show, but the disconnection caused by Covid lockdowns means the 79 gigs are being stretched across the London street dancers’ 13th year.
Already, their longest-ever itinerary on their tenth tour has taken in one York Barbican performance and afternoon meet-and-greet session with fans on April 4, when creator and choreographer Ashley Banjo, brother Jordan and Perri Kiely held a press day ahead of a run of Yorkshire dates.
Diversity, 2009 winners of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent, will be returning to York Barbican on April 27, as well as playing Harrogate Convention Centre on May 8, with further Yorkshire shows in Halifax and Sheffield as part of a rearranged four-month trek to 34 British and Irish towns and cities from March to June.
79 shows, Ashley. Wow! “We could do more,” he asserts. “When you start to get towards 100, you think ‘why don’t we go up to playing arenas?’. The answer is, ‘we could, but it’s much harder to do the same quality of shows because the connection is different. This way, we get audience participation that’s just such fun.
“We like to keep it at this size of venue, and even if we grow, I don’t think we would take it anywhere bigger because I love this scale of show.”
Ashley remembers the early days of touring after winning Britain’s Got Talent: “On our first venture into touring, we had 11 shows altogether, and not many promoters believed that dancers could fill venues.”
How wrong that perception was. Instead, Diversity have stayed true to their street dance roots while acquiring ever more devotees. Now they are presenting Connected, Ashley’s show about the internet, social media, the digital era and how it connects us all.
“We ask the audience questions around that idea, asking ‘how many of you use the internet?’, and they all put their hands up, but when you ask, ‘what is the internet?’, they can’t define what it is, and yet we use it every day. Our shows want to connect with people on a deeper level.”
This tour is the first chance to see Diversity give a live performance of their Black Lives Matter-inspired dance that prompted 24,500 complaints to Ofcom after they premiered the routine in a special appearance on Britain’s Got Talent on September 5 2020.
Ashley’s choreography took the form of a father guiding his son through the events of 2020, from the pandemic to police brutality against black people and George Floyd’s death that led to the Black Lives Matter protest marches.
The Mail Online published 20 articles on the matter, as complaints to media regulator Ofcom piled up over the dance routine’s “unsuitability for a family audience” and how it was “endorsing a political movement”.
Britain’s Got Talent was cleared of any breach of broadcasting rules, Ofcom declaring that Ashley’s dance was “a call for social cohesion and unity”.
“Creativity is always a leap of faith,” posted Ashley on Instagram in the immediate aftermath. “All I did was what felt right and I’d do it 100 times over … Sending love to everyone that stood by us.”
Looking back now, he says: “A huge amount of good has come out of it, and we’re including the routine in Connected. Having done it first on TV, this tour is the first time we get to see the audience reaction live. It’s quite magical when humans connect in that room.
“If you challenge – and you can say this about anything – things that feel they’ve been ingrained in our lives for so long, you’re always going to get an opposing opinion, but we were surprised at the intensity of the opposition.
“That only shows why the conversation is so important, and why being able to do almost 80 shows is an incredible opportunity for us.”
Jordan and Perri have been part of the Diversity troupe from the start. “It’s an incredible feeling still doing the shows. The first thing you think after the TV success is, ‘they’ll give it a year’,” says Jordan.
“I was quite a cynical 16-year-old, thinking ‘make the most of it’. When Ashley first said ‘let’s do a tour’, I thought ‘that’s a bit crazy’.”
Thirteen years on, “People love Peri because they’ve grown up with him, and now they like listening to Peri and me in the morning on the Kiss Breakfast show. People loved seeing Ashley on Dancing On Ice,” says Jordan.
“With Diversity, people love the shows because there are so many talented dancers, with 15 of us on stage for most of the time, but it’s not just about being wicked dancers, or Ashley bring a brilliant choreographer, but with Ash, he really understands what people want to see and how to put it across.”
Perri is delighted by the reaction to the Black Lives Matter routine. “People are crying, we’re getting standing ovations,” he says. “It felt so negative after the TV broadcast that I remember thinking, ‘I don’t think we’ll ever do another show’, but actually we’ve got a lot of backing.”
Diversity: Connected, at Halifax Victoria Theatre, April 24, 3.30pm and 7.45pm; York Barbican, April 27, 7.45pm; Sheffield City Hall, May 1, 2.30pm and 7.45pm; Harrogate Convention Centre, May 8, 7.45pm. Box office: Halifax, victoriatheatre.co.uk; York, yorkbarbican.co.uk; Sheffield, sheffieldcityhall.co.uk; Harrogate, harrogateconventioncentre.co.uk.
IRISH singer-songwriter and poet Imelda May plays York Barbican tomorrow in the only Yorkshire show of her first major UK tour in more than five years.
“I cannot wait to see you all again, to dance and sing together, to connect and feel the sparkle in a room where music makes us feel alive and elevated for a while,” said the Dubliner when announcing the Made To Love itinerary last April. “It’s a magical feeling we can only get from live music. Let’s go!”
Imagine how she feels, a year on from that “Let’s go!” invocation, as Imelda at last has the chance to promote her sixth studio album, last April’s 11 Past The Hour.
“I’m absolutely chomping at the bit to perform these songs live because normally you put out the album, go out on tour at that time, and see the songs grow as you play them,” says Imelda, 47.
“But until now, I’ve not really played any of them live, apart from Made To Love at a couple of things. When you start playing them, it can change suddenly what you might release as the next single, as you see what people enjoyed, but with this album I had to release them blindly as there couldn’t be any comeback from audiences. So, it’ll be interesting to see which ones they most react to, now I’m touring again.”
On a record that “brims with sensuality, emotional intelligence, spirituality and intuition”, Imelda collaborated with Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, Noel Gallagher, Miles Kane and Niall McNamee.
“Niall is a wonderful Irish musician and actor and it was Ronnie [Wood] who introduced him to me because he was acting in a play by Ronnie’s wife, and we got on so well, we started writing together,” says Imelda.
The duet Don’t Let Me Stand On My Own resulted, with its theme of mental health, sticking together and holding on together. Lo and behold, Imelda and Niall are indeed not standing alone. “We fell in love over the kitchen table and we’re still together,” she says.
Imelda is grateful to Ronnie Wood for that post-show introduction but more besides. “It’s great to have Ronnie on the record, playing on Just One Kiss and Made To Love. I’ve known him since I was 16,” she says. “I’d never gone to music college or state schools; I just jammed at clubs, and I’d just started playing at this little club when Ronnie turned up and we ended up playing Rollin’ & Tumblin’ together.
“Later, I toured with Jeff Beck, who introduced me to Ronnie, saying ‘I don’t if you remember Imelda’, but he did!”
Noel Gallagher co-wrote and sings on Just One Kiss while Miles Kane features on What We Did In The Dark. “Miles has been a friend for a long time and Noel is a good friend too,” says Imelda.
Feminist thinkers and activists Gina Martin and Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu contribute to Made To Love. “Gina does incredible work and it’s the same with Dr Shola, who is so eloquent and elegant and makes so much sense,” says Imelda.
“I was writing this song about how we’re made to love, because if we don’t look for love, what are we aiming for, especially now? I’m a living thing! Love is a living thing!
“I was looking for backing vocalists and decided I’d get in touch with Gina and Shola after they really captured our attention and hearts at this beautiful event for International Women’s Day.
“I said, ‘do you sing because I need your heart and passion on this song?’, and they agreed to do it with. We had to be [socially] distanced for the recording with all the doors open. Absolutely freezing, but it was worth it.”
Imelda’s record company, Decca Records, were favouring Diamonds for a single, but Graham Norton asked specifically for Made To Love for Imelda’s performance on his BBC One chat show, and it duly became the single.
Imelda loves being creative. “The writing process is like giving birth. Suddenly something exists that didn’t exist this morning,” she says. “I love it when my brain fires up and a song flows out.
“Then you start working on the artwork and the videos, the songs get to live and that’s another chapter starting. Then you work on how the songs will sound live, which is a very different creative process from studio recordings, especially when we were recording remotely in lockdown.”
Imelda’s creativity has expanded to poetry, as heard on her 2020 EP, Slip Of The Tongue, and printed in last October’s A Lick And A Promise. “Absolutely 100 per cent, poetry will feature in the show,” she says. “When the book came out, the reaction was unprecedented, I was told. The print runs sold out three times. They flew out the door!
“Working on poems for the EP with beautiful string arrangements behind them, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, I can tell you.”
Now is the time for May in April, songs, poems and all, at York Barbican tomorrow.
Imelda May fact file
Full name: Imelda Mary Higham.
Born: July 10 1974, in The Liberties area of Dublin.
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, poet and multi-instrumentalist who plays bodhrán, guitar, bass guitar and tambourine.
Breakthrough: Discovered by boogie-woogie pianist Jools Holland, who asked her to tour with him.
Performed duets with: U2, Lou Reed, Sinead O’Connor, Robert Plant, Van Morrison, Jack Savoretti, Noel Gallagher and Elvis Costello.
Featured on albums and live tours with: Jeff Beck, Jeff Goldblum and Ronnie Wood.
Studio albums: No Turning Back, 2003; Love Tattoo, 2008; Mayhem, 2010; Tribal, 2014; Life. Love. Flesh. Blood, 2017; 11 Past The Hour, 2021.
Branching out: In the cauldron of 2020 Black Lives Matter movement, she released her poem You Don’t Get To Be Racist And Irish. Sentiment adopted by Irish government’s ReThink Ireland campaign on billboard displays.
What Imelda did next: Released reflective nine-poem Slip Of The Tongue EP, set to uplifting soundscape. May addressed themes of home and love, feminism, harsh realities of life, defiance, lovelorn longing and escapism.
Book: A Lick And A Promise, debut collection of 104 poems, including two each by her father and young daughter, published in October 2021.
York gigs: February 2009, at The Duchess, in bequiffed retro-rockabilly days; November 2011, York Barbican debut; May 2017, York Barbican, promoting post break-up album Life. Love. Flesh. Blood.
Imelda May plays York Barbican tomorrow (6/4/2022) at 7.30pm on her Made To Love Tour. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk, gigsandtours.com and ticketmaster.co.uk or on 0203 356 5441.