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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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Good as Gouldman

ORGANISERS of the inaugural Lakeland Live open-air concert were tasked with finding a world class band to headline – they came up with 10cc. KARL STEEL talks to songwriter and mainstay Graham Gouldman about the band’s upcoming visit to Cumbria

10ccgraham
GRAHAM GOULDMAN

GRAHAM Gouldman should be a household name. Writing credits for The Yardbirds’ two biggest-selling singles and top five hits for The Hollies have stamped his name on rock and roll history, and as a founding member of the legendary 10cc, he was also responsible for some of the anthems of the 70s.

Still with the North-West’s finest purveyors of art rock after four decades, his band have recently completed one of the most successful tours in their history.

But he could have had so much more.

“If we were the original four, I know we’d be selling out stadiums,” says Gouldman, who turned 66 last week.

Fellow founders Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme last took to the stage with 10cc in the mid-90s, but only since the band reformed in 1999 has there ever been a settled line-up.

Bassist, singer and primary songwriter Gouldman is accepting of the fact that traditionalists are difficult to convince, but with the latest live run of theatre venues across the UK, he feels they are finally starting to win over the doubters.

He says: “I’m the only original member, and even though two of the members have been with us since the 70s, there are always going to be a few naysayers.

“It does feel like we have to prove a point to a few people every time we play, but having said that, the overwhelming reaction we get at every show is extremely positive.

“I actually believe that this was the best tour we’ve done. We finished at the Albert Hall last week, which was special, but every show was great.

“We have always done well playing live and now the line-up has been together a long time, we keep doing better and better as the years go by.”

The revolving door policy that many groups of that era employed is very much a thing of the past.

Now consisting of long-term members guitarist Rick Fenn and drummer Paul Burgess, and percussionist Mick Wilson, who has been with the band since the reformation, the only change to the line-up in recent years has been the sharing of the keyboard role between Keith Hayman and Mike Stevens - owing much to the fact that Stevens spends much of the year as musical director for Take That’s live show.

The truth is, however, that regardless of who was involved, the sheer number of hits in their back catalogue mean that a 10cc show is always going to strike a chord with their loyal fanbase.

Songs like Rubber Bullets, Dreadlock Holiday and the immortal Smooth FM favourite I’m Not In Love, all of which hit the top spot in the UK charts, or Art for Art’s Sake, The Things We Do for Love and Donna, which came close.

“It always amazes me that people know the songs instantly,” admits Gouldman. “There are some great songs in there, I mean, we’ve got a 45-minute show that concentrates solely on the big hits, and then there are longer sets with a few album tracks in there as well. It’s just like having different clothes for different occasions.”

Next Saturday, May 26, Cumbrian fans get to see 10cc perform a headline set at the brand-new Lakeland Live - an open air family concert in Kendal.

It will form part of the annual Country Fest weekend that takes place at the County Showfield in Crooklands, near Kendal.

Organisers were tasked with finding a world class band to headline the inaugural event, and Graham is glad that they made the call.

An experienced festival band, they will be looking to make their mark on a new event and leave their legacy for years to come.

He says: “We’re used to playing outdoor festivals, so we know what to expect. We’ve just finished a theatre tour, and when you’re playing in that kind of venue you have a lot more control. You get full soundchecks and get the sound perfect, but in a festival where there are a few bands on, you only get a line check on all the mics and then you’re on.

“In a way it can be more fun because of the unknown aspect to it.

“There’s a different kind of atmosphere as well, because the audience are standing up for a start. They might be there to see other bands as well, though hopefully a lot of people will be there for us.

“We just do what we normally do but the audience are a lot more demonstrative in singing and dancing along.

“With it being a brand-new event, there should be a real sense of occasion and I hope for everyone involved that it is a big success and becomes a regular event. If we can play a part in doing that, then that would be great.”

l Tickets for Lakeland Live, at the County Showfield in Crooklands, near Kendal, on Saturday 26, are on sale priced £25 for adults and £5 for children. They can be purchased from www.westmorlandshow.co.uk, or by calling the ticket hotline on 01539 567804.

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