Shaun Williamson on starting Barry-oke and how it was a Barry-illiant success at Tramlines

Shaun Williamson, who is most well known for playing Barry Evans in Eastenders, started touring with his act, Barry-oke at UK festivals and has become a cult favourite.

By Steven Ross
Sunday, 25th July 2021, 3:47 pm

Barry-oke is an act that does exactly what it says on the tin; it’s karaoke with Shaun Williamson A.K.A Barry from Eastenders.

Shaun started the act in 2019 and had taken it to five festivals before the Covid-19 pandemic forced him to cancel four appearances.

Tramlines marked the festival return of Barry-oke, and what a return it was, bringing as much energy as some of the established international bands.

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Shaun Williamson performs Something Inside So Strong during Barry-oke at The Open Arms at Tramlines 2021

Shaun said: “What I’m trying to bring to people is exactly what happened at Tramlines. It was really fun and there’s an element of escapism.

"It was songs like Sweet Caroline, 500 Miles. They were all bangers, so everyone could sing along.

"I have never had a response like that. It couldn’t have gone any better.

"We had to stop the show half way through because people were getting up on the tables, we needed a bigger venue.

"A lot of it is that people have been cooped up for a long time.

“I didn’t expect Barry-oke to go on this long. What’s prolonged it I think is working with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant to bring it to a new audience.

"It was incredibly well run by Tramlines.

“I have got strong links to Sheffield, my daughter went to university there, and I have done the pantomime there many times. I do love the city.”

Sam Bunting, aged 19, from Derbyshire came to Tramlines and stopped by the Open Arms to see Shaun’s set, but did not expect it to be such a popular act.

Sam said: “ We expected there to be a few in the Open Arms tent but when we got there it was absolutely rammed. We managed to squeeze our way to the front and it was class.

"Definitely the highlight of the day for us was Barry-Oke, and The Streets, but all round the festival was epic.

"The atmosphere in the Open Arms was so unexpected. He had guests on stage singing with him.

"It was so different and he just brought the crowd together. I went from not knowing who Shaun was to being his biggest fan within minutes.”