Sheffield quartet ready to rock again

Maison Rouge are Phil Haston, Paul Willis, Greg Wall and Dave Neal.
Maison Rouge are Phil Haston, Paul Willis, Greg Wall and Dave Neal.
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Forget Take That and Boyzone – a group of Sheffield musicians are preparing for their own special reunion.

Back in 1984, Maison Rouge won The Star’s Rock and Pop Contest.

1980s band reforming. Phil Haston Paul Willis Greg Wall and Dave Neal

1980s band reforming. Phil Haston Paul Willis Greg Wall and Dave Neal

They wowed the judges at the Top Rank Suite – now the O2 Academy – to take first place.

And now, 30 years on, the band are getting back together for a one-off gig to celebrate the anniversary, playing the Millennium Hall on Ecclesall Road on Saturday, October 11.

Drummer Greg Wall, aged 54, said: “The competition was an X Factor-style contest with a series of six heats, each featuring six bands, the winner of each contesting the final. The top prize was £1,000 and a day in a recording studio, which produced our one and only single.

“However, it didn’t threaten the charts, but it did get a mention in The Encyclopedia of British Heavy Metal.

1980s band reforming. Greg Wall Phil Haston Paul Willis and Dave Neal

1980s band reforming. Greg Wall Phil Haston Paul Willis and Dave Neal

“We eventually went our separate ways, indeed myself and the bass player quit playing altogether for what turned out to be a 20-year sabbatical.”

Fast forward to 2012 and Greg bumped into guitarist Phil Histon, from Meersbrook, who was performing at The Midland in Killamarsh.

Greg, who worked in IT until taking redundancy in 2012, said: “We got talking and started reminiscing.

“He pointed out it would soon be the 30th anniversary of the night we won the Rock and Pop Contest and I said we should get together to play a one-off gig to mark the event.

Maison Rouge

Maison Rouge

“After a few phone calls we found we all agreed and after a few boozy get-togethers we started rehearsing earlier this year.

“We clicked almost instantly and rolled back the years.

“We have already done two warm up gigs and are now ready for the main event.”

Greg, of Killamarsh, was not the only member to hang up his instrument, temporarily, after Maison Rouge.

Dave Neal and Paul Willis during The Star's contest.

Dave Neal and Paul Willis during The Star's contest.

Photo finisher Dave Neal, aged, 56, of Norton Lees, put his bass guitar away for 20 years and did not pick it up again until he got the phone call about the reunion.

In contrast, former pharmacy technician and guitarist Phil, aged 54, and 58-year-old singer Paul Willis, of High Storrs, have continued playing in various rock cover bands over the years.

Doors open for the gig at 7.30pm. Tickets are £5. For more details, visit Maison Rouge’s Facebook page.