Bright idea of a Family reunion

Hitmakers: The Lighthouse Family at Sheffield City Hall on Monday, March 7, 2011.

Hitmakers: The Lighthouse Family at Sheffield City Hall on Monday, March 7, 2011.

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WHEN chirpy Paul Tucker brought The Orange Lights to Sheffield some viewed the slow-burn indie act as his post Lighthouse Family therapy.

“It sat more in a Snow Patrol, Coldplay kind of way,” the keyboards man recalls of the band. “They were Lighthouse songs to all intent and purposes, but slightly different in mood and feel. A bit slower and a bit darker, but we had fun with it.”

On Monday, Paul returns to Sheffield City Hall with the flat dulcets of Tunde Baiyewu as they reconvene Lighthouse Family, a band that sold 10 million records on the back of such hits as Lifted and Ocean Drive.

“It’s the right time,” says Paul, who was given a reminder of their global impact during a visit to Ocean Drive, on Miami Beach.

“I was there for a friend’s birthday, sitting on a bench on that street and this white convertible went past with a couple of guys in the front, a couple of girls in the back, singing Ocean Drive at the top of their heads.

“So we’ve been talking about it since last year, plotting and scheming. Tunde and I started kicking the ball around again, the idea of it.”

Sheffield figures strongly in the Family tree. One of their first gigs outside of Newcastle, where the pair met at university, was to a handful of people in The Leadmill back bar. Later their stranglehold on the singles charts would lead to a sold-out Sheffield Arena show.

The pair also worked with then city-based producers Jonathan Quarmby and Kevin Bacon on their third album, Whatever Gets You Through The Day, before Manna Productions moved to the Smoke. In that time Paul and Tunde became a fixture in The Rutland.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” says Paul, who has talked to Manna about working on a new record. “They’re definitely on the team sheet and we’ve got a load of really good tunes in the bag.

“We talked to a lot of people about what we should do. We signed a new deal with Sony and George Michael’s manager called me a couple of years ago saying ‘Why don’t you just go and play’. You’ve got to get back into the movie a bit.”

It’s been a long time coming, however, but Paul says they needed the break, not least with him being a father to three kids.

“We did 10 years together on the road. To be that successful for that length of time is one of the toughest things and we got to the point where we were worn out.

“When we started doing it, we thought ‘We love doing this, we want to be able to do it and have enough money to carry on’. We just wanted to be able to afford our equipment and do it for a living.

“But one minute we were in tiny little venues and the next minute we were in arenas and to be honest it was hard to get your head round.

“There isn’t an road map, a users’ manual or anyone telling you what you’re supposed to do. All of a sudden it becomes absolutely huge and you get on with it.

“You find yourself scratching your head a bit. Everywhere you’d hear Lifted.

“But you got to the point where you suddenly thought ‘I’m not seeing my kids, or my family’. So I’m really glad we had the break. If we had just carried on I’d have missed so much. It’s been a very normal life and I’m glad I didn’t miss that.

“The kids weren’t really old enough to know what was going on first time around so I’m really looking forward to the fact I can play a gig this time and they can see it and understand it and get it. That’s the beauty for me.”

As is being able to afford a life in the sunshine. Although Paul still has a studio in Newcastle, he lives in Ibiza – because of his wife.

“Just before the third album she was saying ‘If you’re going to leave me sitting on my own I want to be somewhere a bit less rainy’,” he explains.

“You’ve got a background of musical culture here, a lot of musos, really interesting wallpaper, but I find red bricks and rain more inspiring in a way than blue sky and palm trees.”

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