Forty-fied

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MANY will be watching the weather reports to see what grade of brolly they’ll require when live music returns to Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens tonight.

But one of those bands lined up to play the beautiful green space during the next four evenings has weathered many a storm before now.

In fact, 10CC, pictured above, arrive amid the roses tomorrow having clocked up 40 years in the business and curiously count the likes of Axl Rose and Chrissie Hynde among their fans.

Okay, so the original band might have split up some time ago, but the music has been kept alive on the road thanks to founder member Graham Gouldman.

“It’s a source of pride that our music has lasted,” he says of the band formed in Stockport with Eric Stewart, Lol Crème and Kevin Godley.

10CC had their first hit in 1972 and racked up a string of top 10 hits over six years, including Art For Art’s Sake, The Things We Do For Love and Life Is A Minestrone.

The singles Rubber Bullets, Dreadlock Holiday and the sublime I’m Not In Love all topped the charts – the latter receiving a BMI citation for five million radio plays in the US.

“It’s the songs, their inventiveness, music, lyrics and originality,” Graham says of 10CCs enduring appeal.

“Nothing represents 10CC and I like them all. You can’t really pigeonhole the 10CC canon; we sounded different on all our records.

“Just look at our three chart-toppers: Rubber Bullets was sung by Lol, Eric sang I’m Not In love and I sang Dreadlock Holiday. There were so many facets to the band and we just did what was best for each song.”

Although hard-pressed to name a favourite, Graham admits to a soft spot for one.

“There’s something about I’m Not In Love. It seems to have a spirituality about it, a hypnotic quality that affects me even today – and I’ve played it God knows how many times.

“Although artistically it was right, it doesn’t identify the band – we chopped and changed too much for that. Plus it’s not fair on the rest of the songs. They’re all our children, God bless ’em.”

Graham also penned hits for The Hollies, Herman’s Hermits and The Yardbirds, later teaming up with the late Andrew Gold as Wax for a hit with Bridge To Your Heart.

But he always returns to 10CC – although he never imagined he would still be going out and performing as 10CC after all these years or that they were creating something of a musical legend at the time.

“You never think of these things. We had no intention of that, we just did what we wanted to do. We were lucky to have our own studio so we wrote and recorded for our own pleasure – there was no master-plan.”

Joining Graham on stage in the Botanicals as well as the UK tour that has them returning to Sheffield City Hall on October 24 will be Paul Burgess (drums), Rick Fenn (guitar), Mick Wilson (vocals, keyboards, guitar) and Mike Stevens (keyboards).

Paul has worked with 10CC from the beginning and Rick joined the live band in the mid-’70s. Mike sometimes slips off to tour as musical director to Take That when he is replaced by Keith Hayman.

“The band is amazing. I’m not keen on rearranging stuff and I want to hear the songs as originally recorded, to be faithful to the original, and this band enables me to do that.

“I always look at concerts from the audience’s point of view. I want the show to be great for you and doing that keeps it fresh for me. Basically, I’m a punter as well as a musician.”

Now in his 60s, Graham has made a new solo album and you could get to hear songs from Love & Work in his solo spot. But the set is largely a history lesson in 10CC.

“There will be the hits and more, plus some new stuff. By that I don’t mean newly-recorded material, we’ll be playing some tracks we haven’t done much before.

“This is as near as you’re ever going to get to hearing the perfect 10CC. Hit after hit after hit. It’s relentless and we show no mercy.

“It’s a great evening. And, do you know, I’ve been to every one and loved it.”