Temptation stars Heaven 17 have resisted big money to turn on this year’s Regent Street Christmas lights in London - to play for FREE at our Women Of Steel Concert in Sheffield, writes Graham Walker.
It’s proof, if ever needed, their hearts belong to the city.
And organisers of the charity concert – to help raise £150,000 for a statue to honour the women who kept the steel mills going during two world wars – hope it will encourage music fans to buy tickets and sell it out.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our chat with Heaven 17.
Frontman Glenn Gregory and keyboard wizard Martyn Ware will perform on an all-star bill, including ABC’s Martin Fry, Is This The Way To Amarillo? superstar Tony Christie and You’re Gorgeous band Baby Bird, at Sheffield City Hall on Saturday, November 9.
Grammy award winning singer songwriter producer Eliot Kennedy, who will perform some of the hits he’s written for Take That, Boyzone and The Spice Girls, will lead the house band.
And it will have The X Factor – with Irish singer-songwriter Janet Devlin, who has been writing and recording at Eliot’s Steelworks and The Foundry studio.
Other acts, with everyone involved agreeing to perform for free for the charity, include St Elmo’s Fire rocker John Parr, John Shuttleworth, the comedy creation of Graham Fellows, John Reilly of Boy on a Dolphin, big band singer Paul Pashley and Philippa Hanna, fresh from her tour with Lionel Richie.
There will be guest appearances by Reverend and the Makers’ lead singer Jon McClure, actor Dean Andrews, from hit TV shows Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, BBC Ancient Egypt presenter Joann Fletcher and DJs and presenters from local radio stations, including Real Radio’s Dixie and Gayle, Capital’s Simon ‘Hirsty’ Hirst, BBC Radio Sheffield’s Toby Foster and Hallam FM’s Steve White.
The Purple Cats Choir, Cornerstone Brass, Classic Calypso and The Yorkshire Tea Bags skiffle group will also add extra variety to the evening.
Heaven 17 also got celebrity friends Kim Wilde, Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside and Erasure’s Andy Bell to record video shout-outs when they appeared on what Martyn described as the last British Electronic Foundation live gig, at Sheffield’s O2 Academy.
Last week’s Music of Quality and Distinction show by BEF, an offshoot of Heaven 17, also saw them joined by singers including Claudia Brucken from Propaganda and David J Roche.
Explaining how they had turned down the lights switch on to play the Women Of Steel Concert, Glenn, aged 55, said: “We promised we would do it and then we got offered the chance to turn on of the Regent Street lights in London, because they are having a big ’80s extravaganza and they wanted us to play live there.
“They offered us quite a lot of money, but we turned it down because we are coming to Sheffield. Fans should definitely come. That concert is going to be fantastic. There’s Martin Fry of ABC, there’s us and loads of people. It’s going to be a great concert and it’s a great cause to support too.
“Let’s get that statue up outside the City Hall.”
Martyn, 57, who revealed Heaven 17 are working on a new EP and planning a European-wide tour next year, said “The Women Of Steel concert is raising funds to recognise the contribution of women in the steel works during the Second World War and to build and erect a statue in Barker’s Pool. That’s something close to my heart.
“My dad used to work in the steelworks. He was an air raid warden in Sheffield, because he was too old to go to the front line.
“The more I look back on it, the more I grew up in an amazing industrial soundscape. You just think it’s normal when you are growing up – that’s just what you live in.
“It’s a bit like JG Ballard growing up in the ruins for that film that he did, Empire of The Sun, just playing among the bombsites – to him it was perfectly normal. It was somewhere to play.
“For us it was laying in bed at night and listening to the drop forges.
“The concert is an amazing thing and people should come and support it anyway. Our mates ABC are going to be there, we’re doing some numbers.
“And yes, we’ll do Temptation. Don’t worry! It’s going to be such a climax, I don’t know where you’re going to go after that.”
Kids In America pop star Kim Wilde, 52, said she was sorry she couldn’t be part of it. The 52-year-old said: “I’ve heard all about the inspirational Women Of Steel and the statue you’re hoping to raise lots and lots of money to erect in Sheffield, so I want to wish everyone lots of luck with that and pay my respect to all the strong ladies out there.”
Erasure frontman Andy Bell, 49, said: “I hope everyone has a wonderful evening. They are all deserving, brilliant ladies and let’s raise lots and lots of money to have something to remember them by.”
Green Gartside, 58, of Scritti Politti, said: “I hope they have a great night. I wish I could be there. I hope it raises lots of money for the Women Of Steel statue.”
n For details about the concert, visit Www.womenofsteeltheconcert.co.uk and for regular updates follow @WomenSteelShow on Twitter. Tickets are £20 and £22, and may be subject to a booking fee. To buy them visit the venue’s box office, call 0114 2789789 or visit www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk.
* To support the statue fund, visit www.justgiving.com/womenofsteel.