Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace

Liz Nicholls

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Blenheim beauty is the backdrop for Nocturne Live stars. Singer/songwriter Mick Hucknall chats about being back on the road performing as Simply Red get set to star at Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace on 15th June

“What I’m most looking forward to about going back on tour is the audience because I think all of us have been through so much,” says Mick. “Some of us have lost family and friends, which is clearly a very emotional thing, and I just want to be a reassuring figure to the audience that we’re here, you know, entertaining them with the music they clearly love because they’re at the shows.

“The other part of it is that there’s great camaraderie between the band and I’ve missed them and very much look forward to being on a stage. And I know that we’re all gonna be really proud and thrilled to be performing to the audience.”

Q. Is there anything you don’t like about being on tour? “Well, you know, maybe three years ago I would have said yes, but I’m now saying there’s nothing, because I’m actually quite thankful to just even be on tour.”

Q. Without being able to perform over lockdowns, what has helped you cope? “Well, during the pandemic I’ve been lucky enough to have a family and we’ve been in it together, and we’ve had to deal with it like every other family has. I feel particularly for those people that don’t have a family, who have been on their own throughout this time. And again, that’s one of the beautiful things about being on the road is that you can actually be part of their family by having them come to the show and share the experience. The other thing I’ve been doing in the pandemic is writing songs, so that’s been a very positive experience and I’m hoping to share some of that music with you when the time is right, in the autumn I would think.”

Q. What can the fans expect from the tour? “Well, I want to effectively give the fans what they want. We’re gonna perform our ‘best of’, we’re gonna perform the biggest songs of our career and some familiar album tracks from over the years, but it’s just gonna be a real review of the story of Simply Red from 1985 to now, and we hope to give you the big hits.”

Q. Do you have a favourite song to perform and why? “I guess I have to say the favourite song to perform will always be Holding Back The Years. It’s just such a key song on so many levels. But then again there are others. Stars is always a favourite to perform. But always I think, for everybody, Holding Back The Years, it’s the first major song I ever wrote, and it’s something that will always be played.”

Simply Red join headliners Lionel Richie, Simple Minds, UB40 featuring Ali and Astro, and David Gray (celebrating the 20th anniversary of his seminal album White Ladder) on the line-up for the popular concert series, which will run across five nights from Wednesday June 15th to Sunday June 19th 2022.

Support acts for next summer’s event include the likes of Macy Gray, Deacon Blue, Brand New Heavies, Nerina Pallot, Jimmy Cliff, Aswad and James Morrison (full details below). Tickets, along with a limited number of VIP packages – which provide an exclusive opportunity to dine in the State Rooms of Blenheim Palace – are available from www.nocturnelive.com.

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Ghost: The Ultimate Tour Named Death

Round & About

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Steve Warner enjoys Ghost’s performance at SSE Arena Wembley on Friday

Live performances can be an amazing experience for any music fan and I can testify that the Swedish band Ghost are one of the best live rock acts around. Last year I saw them at The Royal Albert Hall on A Pale Horse Named Death Tour promoting their album, Prequelle. Ghost don’t just write and play great music, they provide an exhilarating, memorable show.

The Ultimate Tour Named Death arrived at Wembley for a Friday night show and was no exception. Opening with Rats, an instantly modern catchy classic song really set the scene. Amazing sound from the whole band, dazzling lighting across a huge mediaeval church backdrop made this a great gig. I have seen a lot of bands over many years and they stand out as such a tight band with powerful riffs and boundless energy, who effortlessly switch in and out of lighter moments. Having toured across America, Europe and much of the world, their fan base is expanding massively as more and more people become aware of what this band are capable of. I came across Ghost three years ago. The hypnotic and tuneful rock track Cirice was my introduction to this band through a friend I met at school. This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often. Pure magic!

Ghost comprises of melodic, talented, masked musicians, with Tobias Forge as the front man heading the nameless ghouls. Tobias has a unique, listenable voice which draws you in and he creates theatrical drama on stage. Between songs he interjects humorous interaction with the mesmerised audience. An air of mystery surrounds them that only adds to their complexity.

In March 2020 Ghost will celebrate 10 years since they initially posted three songs on MySpace and within two days became noticed by the music industry. Some people refer to Ghost as a Doom Metal band. The brilliant track Mummy Dust does fit that description but I’m not so sure I’d agree with that particular pigeon hole for this band as this might put off some people who I believe will love their music. Ghost is a modern day Blue Oyster Cult bearing a dark undertone in the lyrics of each song with hard rock guitars and drums, which hits the spot exactly how rock music should be written nowadays.

When you start exploring the writing styles of Ghost you come across Absolution, Square Hammer, He Is, From the Pinnacle to the Pit, Ritual, Faith and Year Zero you realise the variety of music this band can create. If any of this is catching your attention look them up on youtube. Their packaging of each of their albums is great too so treat yourself to discover what so many rock fans are talking about. Yes, I have all the CD’s and vinyl, and yes, the limited edition items are a joy to own, as is the merchandise! Did I remember to say I love their work…?

The Ghost world tour continues

Until 19th December

For tickets, merchandise and more please visit www.ghost-official.com/. Also follow @thebandghost for updates and more