Artery are Bacon track

SEAN Connery once announced Never Say Never Again and then promptly appeared in a film of the same name.

Earlier this year revived Sheffield band Artery said more or less the same ahead of a 'farewell' gig at the O2 Academy.

The show happened but closure didn't and tomorrow they return to the Arundel Gate venue with a new lease of life.

Animated singer and lyricist Mark Gouldthorpe reckons it actually happened immediately after that last gig.

"I said it was going to be the last we did and as far as we were concerned that was the case," recalls Mark, who predicted the end when David Hinkler announced he couldn't carry on because of work and home commitments.

"We believed we were not going to replace a keyboard player of that calibre. But after the gig Murray (Fenton, guitarist) surprised me on the night by bringing to the dressing room a guy called James Bacon."

Not only did it turn out Mr B could play well, having worked with Simon Hinkler when he left The Mission to form a band called Mindfeel, he had his own recording studio and knew how to use it.

Murray had actually been in touch with James the previous two weeks while Mark was predicting the end of the band that Jarvis Cocker had revived for a London festival weekend two years before.

And so Artery Mk III was born and recording of new album Civilisation completed. Much of it will be aired this Saturday.

"It sounds amazing. It's not like going into a studio for two or three weeks, knocking the songs out and keeping your fingers crossed hoping you end up with a really good production.

"This has been worked on over a six-month period. It pulls together the concept of where Artery was heading after getting back together.

"Apart from two of the original songs from the past it's all brand new material at this gig."

In a sense it is a concept album driven by social issues of the day. "The way things have gone in our society over the past two to three years has influenced, probably subconsciously, the way I've been writing.

"There's a theme that relates a lot to what is happening in Great Britain today. It's not just a load of songs written and chucked on an album, there's a continuum."

As well as getting Mark to deliver "the best vocals I've ever done", James - a grade A classically trained pianist with engineering and production skills to match – has boosted the melody of Artery's largely dark material.

"There's no effects - where I always relied on some to sweeten my voice before. I always felt the lyrics were great but in my heart the vocals never held enough melody. We write dark material and a bit of melody brings it to life. That was missing in earlier Artery stuff, it was a bit linear."

Civilisation should be mastered by mid January and ready to go shortly after that.

Mark, for one, feels the time is right for a band with social, if not political, bite.

"The whole climate has changed. If you look at the younger generation they've all been brought up with commodity; they've all had mobile phones, computers, PlayStations, X Boxes, and everything has been absorbed into that kind of lifestyle. It's almost as if everything is happening by magic.

"Nobody is actually writing anything that is relevant to people and what is happening today. I cannot hear it anywhere and we're from that post-punk period where everyone went 'hang on a minute' let's do it ourselves and open it up and look at what's happening around us."

Returning support tomorrow is 17-year-old Emily Stancer (on at 9pm). Mark's tip as the next big thing out of Sheffield, she is the kind of fresh ears Artery hope to win over.

"We're after breaking ground with young people. If they came and saw what we are doing and had a closer look it would spark a real experience for them.

"Emily said to me at first she didn't know what to make of it, but once she had a closer look..."