John Cooper Clarke: the Bard of Salford talks to Northern Soul
He’ll be headlining at Manchester’s O2 Apollo on March 21 where he will be joined by some of his exceptionally talented friends – Mike Garry, Luke Wright and Simon Day (performing as Yorkshire poet Geoffrey Allerton – trust me, this one is hilarious).
All in all it promises to be a lyrical barnstormer of an evening, at one of Manchester’s biggest and most iconic venues.
But is JCC looking forward to entertaining a home crowd?
“I am Kaz,” he says in his legendary adenoidal timbre. “In fact, I look forward to every show these days but, go on then, I admit to a touch of the sentimentality when it comes to Manchester audiences.”
And presumably it’s a sentimentality right back-at-ya from the crowd?
JCC is on tour until December when he closes the nationwide and international run with a Christmas show in London.
But, and let’s not walk on eggshells here, is being on the road a bit draining these days?
“No,” he says, without missing a beat. “I love it, love it. It’s my job and, let’s be completely honest here, it’s a lot more luxurious than it once was.
“I used to go to gigs on public transport – I’d be buggered if the bus was late or the train was cancelled – but now I’ve got a driver so it’s all door-to-door service and luxury en-suites.
“A much more civilised state of affairs.”
While Dr Clarke has adopted a more modern mode of transportation to and from gigs, the shows themselves are still as raw and fresh as when he first stepped on the stage at the Apollo back in 1979 (“I was supporting The Damned I think”) with a mixture of his classic verse, hilarious pondering on modern life, good honest gags, riffs and chat – all mixed in with extraordinary new material.
“I’ve been writing a lot,” says Clarke. “So there’s a lot of new stuff in the shows but I’ll still be doing some of the old stuff too.”
He’s recently collaborated with the Inspiral Carpets on their hotly anticipated self-titled new album – the band’s first in 20 years – with a single called Let You Down, a partnership he cites as “a truly wonderful experience”.
“They’re a fantastic bunch, Clint and the lads,” he says, “so it was a real treat working with them but I can’t see me making a solo album or anything like that.
Main Image by Chris Payne
What: John Cooper Clarke Live
Where: O2 Apollo, Manchester
When: March 21, 2015
More info: www.o2apollomanchester.co.uk; for more tour dates click here
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Supported by funding from @HeritageFundUK, Betty’s Back! will explore James’s life and works in the context of the 1920s, when the portrait was painted, and will also reveal artwork by Betty Durden Green for the first time.