Erasure at Hull City Hall

So City of Culture year has been and gone and what a year it was. From my point of view it meant Jeff Lynne, The Flaming Lips, Ocean Colour Scene and lots more. The question now is whether or not Hull can continue to attract big names, to the new Venue, or the football stadium or my special favourite Zebedee’s Yard for open air gigs and, of course, to the amazing Victorian pile that is the City Hall.

Early signs are promising – maybe the City of Culture can do attitude is still around – and we have the likes of Orbital and Chase & Status and local hero Calum Scott lined up for the summer. The year’s major musical events start out with a sold out show from 80s pop legends Erasure at the City Hall.

Support comes from up and coming nu-disco star Bright Light Bright Light who is making his second visit to the venue, having played last year’s LGBT rights festival night. He’s got some great catchy songs, a style that’s midway between classic pop and musical theatre and a nice line in restrained ironic showmanship. Plenty of the crowd at the front are obviously fans already and it looks like he’s made a few more by the end of his set.

The stage set up for Erasure is a surprise, with the duo separated from each other for most of the show, Andy Bell performing in the narrow space between the front of the stage and a large ziggurat constructed from scaffold and fluorescent tubes atop of which is Vince Clarke with his keyboards and a guitar. There are two dancers and singers who initially occupy frames, also fluorescently defined, on either side of the stage but their contribution is pretty minimal. All eyes are on Bell who dominates proceedings by sheer charismatic presence although Clarke descends from the gods towards the end of the set it almost seems like a one man show.

But what a great show it is. Even though I’ve been playing Erasure tracks all week I’m amazed by the strength in depth in their back catalogue. The set kicks off with an eerily gorgeous Oh L’Amour and heads for a climax with Sometimes and Respect but along the way are Stop, Drama, Blue Savannah and a variety of Love related matters including Chains Of, Victims Of and Who Needs It Like That.

Tracks from the new album World Be Gone are interspersed throughout and on tonight’s showing it’s a strong piece of work. All around the City Hall it’s pretty much a non stop dance-a-thon, from the main hall to the steep galleries and what more perfect way could there be to celebrate some of the most elegant and romantic pop music ever than dancing the night away.

By the time Clarke descends for the last couple of songs you’d imagine that people would be exhausted but of course they’re not and the final Respect is a triumphant statement of the power of great pop music to unite people in joy. Fantastic stuff.

Place in Process at the Discovery Centre

There is nothing permanent except change. Now there’s a phrase. Often attributed to Heraclitus but possibly by some other clever old Greek but whoever said it first they had certainly noticed a key feature of the way the world works.

However much we may crave stasis and continuity (and most of us do really, lets be honest) what we get is change. People, relationships, places, nothing is constant.

A fascinating new exhibition, Place In Process, (at the Discovery Centre, Cleethorpes until April 22nd) and subtitled Landscapes of Present and Past Grimsby and Cleethorpes, reshaped and re-imagined) gives two artists, Cleethorpes born Dale Mackie and Nottingham resident Steven Ingman the chance to explore the changing nature of places in time, whether it’s urban dereliction and decay in central Grimsby or seasonal change in the resort areas of Cleethorpes.

Ingman has a long standing interest in the way in which our relationship with, and understanding of, environmental space is changed by the passage of time. His pictures in this exhibition show iconic places in Cleethorpes including the sea wall, the Fitties, the prom and the big wheel but with emphasis on their appearance in the off season.As he puts it –

“I enjoy the process of trying to understand an environment and its human interaction by exploring it through an inverted perspective. In my previous work I have contemplated the juxtaposition of night and day and derelict spaces in cityscapes. In addition, I am fascinated in the relationship between the natural and the man made world. Within these settings I delve into the layers of human history, change and narrative. I am constantly looking for the hidden stories and through the work I produce I aim to reshape the everyday, allowing the viewer to re-imagine, question and find new meaning..”

Dale Mackie on the other hand draws his inspitration from photographs of old Grimsby, showing buildings we have long since lost, often in the process of destruction. The images on display include the changing map of central Grimsby, a collage of departed businesses including many familiar names, and a series of monochrome drawings of local buildings in the process of neglect and/or demolition.

His pictures are infused with sadness at the losses to the town’s architectural history, particularly during the late 60s and early 70s when so much harm was done to the local environment, most notably in the Bullring area.

As he says himself –

“If I had been born in Grimsby I no doubt would have ventured into some of those old historic buildings the town had to offer. Now all I can do is look at the old photos online and agree with all the comments: “Why did we rip the heart out of Grimsby?”

It’s a fascinating exhibition for anyone with an interest in the way that our area has changed over the past few decades, admission is free and the show runs until April 22nd. For more information check out the Arts Meridian website and Facebook pages.

The Peoples talks to reggae legend Ali Campbell

As founding members of Britain’s biggest reggae band UB40, singer Ali Campbell, second vocalist Astro and keyboardist Mickey Virtue topped the UK singles chart on three occasions and sold 70 million records as they took their smooth yet rootsy musical blend to all corners of the globe. Now with ‘A Real Labour Of Love’ the trio give us a fresh take on the legendary series of albums, putting the focus primarily on reggae tracks from the 1980s.

We got to talk to Ali and we started out by asking him about the inspirations behind the new album.

idp: First of all congratulations on a fine new album. It’s got the real classic UB40 feel – a bit cheeky, a bit sly, a bit chilled, a bit romantic. It’s going to be very popular with the fans, I’m sure of that. And it sounds like you were all having a lot of fun in the studio.

Ali Campbell: Well yes, we loved it. It’s a delight to go into a studio to record songs that you already know and that you love. That’s why we called them the Labour of Love albums. We’ve called this one A Real Labour Of Love just to differentiate it but they were very successful albums. We sold more than 21 million of them and some of our biggest hits came from them including Cherry O Baby, Kingston Town, and Red Red Wine.

What made you decide that the time right for a new version and what’s special about the songs on this one?

They’ve been asking us for a long time to do another one so we thought that enough time had passed and we should give it a go. The songs that we cover on this album are all over thirty years old now. They’re the songs that we listened to when we were on the road with the first Labour Of Love album. When we made that album we were we were just covering the songs we grew up listening to – the songs that made us love reggae in the first place – whereas this one takes us into the 80s. These are the songs from when I was in Jamaica.They’re all classics and big hits in the reggae world and we’re trying to bring them to a new audience.
I’ve spent a long time on YouTube and elsewhere tracking down the originals of some of these songs and it has reminded me just how powerful great pop can be. How were the songs for this album chosen and did they bring back a rush of memories for you of the time when you first heard them?

Well most of them are reggae classics that I was listening to in the 80s like JC Lodge’s Telephone Love and Strive by Shinehead which is a great record. And then of course there’s She Loves Me Now by the great Dennis Hammond which is the first single from the album. There’s a really nice and funny little film to go with it and you can find that online. These are the sounds that made us love reggae in the first place and when me and Astro sat down and started to draw up a list we were like all we got to have some Dennis and we’ve got to have some Gregory. It really is a joy to do these albums. It’s always nice doing your own material but it’s a lot easier and more fun to cover songs that you love. It’s only what The Beatles did and the Stones and The Who but they loved blues and we love reggae. Their hero was Bob Dylan and mine was Bob Marley.

It sound like you’re still as passionate as ever about making music.

It’s the best job ever and i think I’ve got the hottest reggae band in the world right now. I think this is the best thing we’ve done in 25 years.

How does your approach to a covers album differ from making an album of original material? It must be important to avoid doing anything like a note for note copy.

If there’s a secret to it, it’s that you have to stay true to the melody because that’s why you liked the song in the first place but then we do our take on it and we try and make it more accessible to a pop audience. That’s all we’ve ever tried to do really, When we started the band in the first place my main idea was because I loved reggae music I wanted to promote reggae music.

Just like I loved dub and I wanted to spread the word about that. There’s a song by Goldie Lookin Chain and one of the lyrics goes “I wouldn’t know what dub was if it wasn’t for UB40” and hearing that for the first time was one of my proudest moments. The first dub album we did was our third album I think. Present Arms had gone in at number two and we thought this is the perfect time to do a dub album and show people what it’s all about. A lot of people brought the album and then took it back to the shop saying it was faulty. No vocal and some strange echoey sounds. But if you look all around the world at pop music today so much of it is informed by reggae beats. People like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande even The Script. I saw them the other day doing a reggae track. The Sly Dunbar beat, the Bogle beat, that’s what contemporary dance music is at the moment. So reggae is more influential now than it’s ever been which makes me happy.

There’s some excellent artwork with the album and you’re auctioning some of it for charity. It’s nice to see performers taking an interest in the music as an artefact for a change. We used to love reading the album sleeves and looking through the racks at the record shop but now it’s all electronic, living in download world as we do.

It can be a bit soul destroying when you spend a year or two of your life making an album from its inception to the point where it’s finished and you spend all that time and all that money and all that effort and then you see people listening on little white headsets coming out of their phones. It’s like why was I worried about getting the bottom end to sound just right and trying to marry the bass drum and the bass guitar perfectly; it all seems a bit futile but it’s what we do. When you go back and you’re re-recording tracks that you remember as classics they always seem a bit rougher than you remember them. So it’s nice to go in and do a clean version and try and reduce it as best I can.

You act as the producer on the album. Is that something you’ve always done.

UB40 have always produced their own around music and I like to be there at the mix because there’s nobody else who knows better than I do how I want it to sound. We had Sly and Robbie mix for us but even though they’re geniuses and we love them it’s never been exactly what we wanted out of our own music. We believe we’re the ones who know what it’s meant to sound like.

Any particular favourite tracks on this album that you’d recommend we go listen to?

I think people should go and have a look at the funny little movie that goes with She Loves Me Now. It’s a terrifying thing to follow in the footsteps of Dennis Hammond I felt the same way when we did Many Rivers To Cross. It’s a tall order. I had a lot of sleepless nights and worry because he’s one of my favourite singers. It’s a bit like taking on Stevie Wonder. That’s got to be one of my favourite tracks on the album because it’s one of my favourite songs of all time anyway.

You’ve got lots of festivals lined up and an arena tour as well so you’re going to have a busy few months.

We’re doing mostly festivals in England and Europe this year. I still love touring and playing live. As I said I’ve got the hottest reggae band in the world at the moment we’ve we’ve had Morgan Heritage play with us, and Inner Circle and and Jo Mersa Marley. Raging Fyah too, they’re one of my favourite bands of the moment.

Well thanks for the chat, congratulations again on the album and we’ll hope to catch one of your summer festival shows.

Thank you.

FOOTBALL MATCH RAISES THOUSANDS FOR HOSPITAL

Global Logistics Football Club has teamed up with Nationwide Grimsby Branch to raise more than £4,500 for babies at Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital. The money was raised from a fundraiser football match and a marathon run.

The football match was held on 16th July and players from Global Logistics raised money by paying to take part and from sponsorship.

Money was also raised by Fay Fenwick from Nationwide Grimsby Branch; she ran the Paris Marathon and received sponsorship for her run.

After the football match everyone involved gathered at the Honest Lawyer on Ladysmith Road. They held a raffle for all the prizes that had been donated by local businesses and an auction for signed memorabilia, including signatures from the 1966 World Cup. A signed football and shirt, which was donated by Grimsby Town Football Club, was also auctioned.

Owner of Grimsby Cars Ltd, Mike Croft, made a significant donation towards the cause pledging to give 10% of all service invoices as a donation.

Manager for Global Logistics FC, Dean Atkinson, said: “A few of the football players have had babies on the Neonatal unit; it’s very close to our hearts.”

If you would like to fundraise for your local hospital, please email hello@healthtreefoundation.org.uk for more information.

Pictured from left: Ryan Ives, Ryan Kelk, staff nurse Julie Sanderson, staff nurse Sarah Chapman, Chris Brookes, Fay Fenwick, staff nurse Carol Ellis, Dale Barton, Chris Freeman and Mike Croft

Golf captains raise thousands for local hospital wards

It’s a proud tradition at Cleethorpes Golf club that each year the captain and lady captain choose a charity to raise money for during the year and this year the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and the Pink Rose Suite are the beneficiaries of the club’s fundraising activities.

The club’s charity day raised £6,972 which was split equally between the two departments at the Diana, Princess of Wales hospital and Captain Glenn Wishart, lady captain Susan Colvin and chairman Liz Stones presented the cheques.

Susan said: “As a local golf club, we wanted the money to go to a local charity. We all know family and friends who have been treated at the Pink Rose Suite so it’s close to my heart. Just like the neonatal unit is close with Glenn’s. It feels really nice to be able to help.”

Breastcare survivorship clinical nurse specialist Susan Cooper, who works on the Pink Rose Suite, said: “We have so many patients and the amount of patients who will benefit from this type of charitable donation is huge.”

Glenn’s grandchild was cared for by the NICU team and he chose to donate his half of the funds to that department for that reason. Glenn and Susan presented the cheque to NICU ward sister Emma Spicer.

Emma said: “There have been different types of equipment we have been looking at recently including new cots for babies that are height adjustable, breathing machines, breast milk pumps and we are looking to get some new breastfeeding chairs.”

Community champion for The Health Tree Foundation Laura Gooderham, said: “Thank you so much to Susan and Glenn for having the hospital in their thoughts when choosing who to raise money for. The donations really do go a long way to improve the services we offer to patients. We really appreciate such a generous donation and it’s comforting to know clubs and organisations are supporting their local hospital.”

For more information on supporting your hospital, contact Laura on 03033 304514 or email at laura.gooderham@nhs.net.

ERASURE PLAY HULL CITY HALL WITH NU-DISCO SUPPORT FROM BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT

Legendary eighties hitmakers Erasure play Hull City Hall on 7th February – check the website for ticket availability – as they launch a major tour of the UK and Europe.

The duo, (Andy Bell and Vince Clarke), who recently accepted the Icon Award at Attitude’s 2017 award ceremony, have had 5 UK Number One albums and 35 UK Top 40 Singles and their latest album, World Be Gone, went to Number 6 in the UK Official Albums Chart, giving them their highest album chart position since 1994.

They’ve also been working with Brussels based post classical musicians Echo Collective on a project which sees the new album given a post-classical rework.

Tour Support comes from nu-disco/synthpop project Bright Light, Bright Light (Welsh singer songwriter Rod Thomas), whose most recent album Choreography has taken him on a whirlwind ride in the past year or so.

He’s a long term Erasure fan and has worked with Vince Clarke in the past on remixes of some of his best known tracks so it made sense for them to tour together.

So is he looking forward to being on the road with his heroes? It certainly sounds like it.

“Touring with Erasure will be a total joy. The teenage me can’t believe what’s happening and the current me isn’t much calmer either really! Vince and Andy are legends and also happen to be two of the nicest people I’ve met so this tour is a dream come true.”

Bright Light Bright Light has had two albums in the Indy top 20, collaborated with Scissor Sisters and Elton John, performed on the Graham Norton show and even appeared as an extra in The League of Gentlemen.

It should certainly be a great tour and we’re looking forward to the Hull show – it promises to be one of the highlights of the year.