Banter with Diversity
It’s got to be said, there are worse ways to spend a morning than chatting to Diversity.
The dance troupe from Wickford won the third series of Britain’s Got Talent, and is starring in Robin Hood and the Merry Men at the Cliffs Pavilion. And the group, which includes Dancing on Ice’s Ashley Banjo and the Greatest Dancer’s Jordon Banjo, really are Essex’s own version of merry men…
So, why are you back again guys?
Ashley Banjo: Why not, that’s the question. Why not? I feel like last year [Diversity starred in Aladdin at the Cliffs Pavilion] was so amazing. Not only was it really fun, it sold in record numbers and people really enjoyed it.
So, we were asked to come back again and it was a case of why not, it was great.
What are you most looking forward to?
Perri Kiely: They do really good cinnamon swirls downstairs!
Jordon Banjo: Ohhh gawwwd. Yeah. Treat yourself Katy, they do really good toffee cake down there too.
Nicest guys in rock? Scouting for Girls (c) Danny North
BEFORE heading on stage at Southend’s Cliff Pavilion later this month, Scouting for Girls will partake in their usual pre-gig ritual.
But it turns out when it comes to this little ceremony, the lads, who have been at the top of their game for ten years now, are not exactly rock and roll.
“I should probably say that we work out, that we do some jogging and do some bench pressing and all that…” laughs drummer Pete Ellard, when we caught up ahead of their new tour. Continue reading
Coming to Southend: OMD (c) Mark McNulty
OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) have more than been around the music block.
With their 13th album just out, the Synth-pop pioneers have been at it since 1978 – with seven top 10 hits to show for it – and too many tours to mention.
Now back in the road again – and heading to Southend’s Cliffs Pavilion on November 1 – the band’s singer and bass guitarist Andy McCluskey was on bitingly good form and feeling a little philosophical when we chatted.
“Regrets? Oh God, yeh I’ve got regrets,” he groaned. “How long have you got? Listen we did everything we did for what appeared to be the right reason at the time. We made an album called Dazzle Ships which now is heralded as our masterpiece, a slightly fracture piece of genius music, but it destroyed our career. Continue reading
What is your earliest memory?
When we lived in Basildon, sitting in the laundry bucket which was filled with water, which was our take on a swimming pool, in the back garden. I must have been about two or something.
Funnily enough when my parents were thinking about their wills and we were asked what we wanted from the home, the one thing that I said was I want the laundry bucket.
I still have it indoors, this big yellow laundry bucket.
Where is your favourite place in Essex, and why?
It’s going to be Basildon because it’s where I grew and and because it’s where all my hopeful years were, those times where anything is possible. Continue reading
CLEOPATRA, coming at ya!
Hands up who remembers that pop refrain from the late Nineties?
Well, Cleo Higgins all grown-up at 33, is quite literally going to be coming at ya – as the lead female in Thriller – Live! at the Cliffs Pavilion this week.
The show – created to celebrate the career of the King of Pop – is now in its seventh year and has played over 3,000 shows globally, to 2.5 million fans and visited over 26 counties.
But musical theatre was not an avenue that Cleo had any real yearnings to explore.
Instead the ex-girl bander, who rocketed back into the public eye on TV show the Voice in 2013, was lured by the temptation to spend time belting out some of Jackson’s hits – including Can You Feel It, Off The Wall, The Way You Make Me Feel, Smooth Criminal and Beat It.
When we chatted her voice was super-husky – having been a bit under the weather – but enthusiasm for the show positively radiated down the phone line.
“I am a major, major Michael Jackson fan,” she says.
“Musical theatre isn’t really my thing… but Thriller – Live? Well, that’s not really musical theatre is it?
“The show’s just huge – it’s become a thing of its own. The music – Michael Jackson’s songs are just so strong. His fans just love it.” Continue reading
WHEN ex-Westlife star Shane Filan was last in Southend for his first solo tour it was in the wake of something of a tough time.
After 14 years in Westlife and their forty-four million sales, just when he should have been set up for life, he found himself bankrupt and staring at a bleak future in 2014.
A bad Irish property investment left him hugely exposed financially and he was making his first scary steps as a solo artist, on the road, alone.
But two years on, he’s back with a new album, a new tour and Shane – who along with Feehily and McFadden, was the lead singer in Westlife – is in fine form.
When we chat his Irish burr is unmistakeable and he’s clearly happy to be going back on tour.
“Southend had a great atmosphere last time around – and it’s a great venue,” he tells me, chuckling his way through the conversation.
“I actually brought my daughter with me to Southend – we had a bit of a daddy/daughter time. She was on stage for part on the show – on a couch in the middle of the acoustic section.
“Touring is best part – getting out there, seeing fans, performing. It’s just fun.”
Does he feel in a different place emotionally this time around? Continue reading
Ahead of my phone call with Lulu I have been pre-warned she’s been “rather poorly” and won’t be able to speak for long, as her voice must not be “over-exerted”.
The Echo newspaper
Lulu, however, appears not too bothered by the bout of flu which had seen her laid up for ten days (“I just had to say that’s it and rest!”) and is in rather chatty, affable form.
There’s no denying it’s her from the moment she comes on the line – sounding just as she does on TV – her Scottish roots coming through clearly one minute and then lapsing into a trans-Atlantic drawl, mixed with the accents of the various places she’s lived.
The tour which is to bring her to the Cliffs Pavilion in March is in celebration of the 50-year showbiz career she’s enjoyed, since she shot to fame with her rendition of Shout in the Sixties.
The years since then have encompassed two highly-publicised marriages, decades of TV credits and hits galore for the Grammy-nominated singer.
But this tour, she tells me, feels like something of a new beginning.