The Voice of M People Heather Small, Groove Armada’s MC M.A.D. and Andy Cato, Livin’ Joy legend Janice Robinson and Happy Mondays vocalist Rowetta are among the special guest artists announced for the third year of The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics in Millennium Square, Leeds on Saturday 27 July.
The epic open-air club night will reunite Leeds’ own “Purveyor of Good Times” Dave Beer with the Orchestra of Opera North for another set of dance anthems specially expanded and rearranged for the 60-piece ensemble, with vocals from the original artists.
Hand-picked from Heather Small’s incredible run of hits with M People, How Can I Love You More?, One Night in Heaven and Moving on Up will be treated to new arrangements, putting a unique symphonic spin on their trademark blend of house, classic soul and R&B.
“We celebrated the 25th anniversary of these songs last year, and people still want to hear them and sing along”, says Heather. “Performing them still brings me so much joy. It’s that connection with the band and the audience that’s always so emotional for me, so taking the stage at Millennium Square to perform these amazing new arrangements with the full Orchestra of Opera North is going to be unforgettable!”
One of the highlights of the first Symphonic Sounds event, Groove Armada vocalist MC M.A.D. will be joined by founder member Andy Cato to perform their Grammy-nominated big beat/house/dancehall crossover Superstylin’ and massive sleeper hit I See You Baby.
Andy grew up near Pontefract and played trombone in the Grimethorpe Colliery Band in his teens, and his brass chops can be heard in the trombone solo on Groove Armada’s At the River. The chillout classic will also get an orchestral overhaul for the Back to Basics show, which will be something of a homecoming for Andy, who now makes his living as an organic farmer in France.
“It all began for me in Leeds”, he says. “Out and about one night, the bar talk was about a new club that had to be checked out. Back to Basics had landed, and that first time I went there remains one of the defining nights of my life. Back then I could never have imagined that the host, the legendary Dave Beer, would one day end up in my phone book as ‘Dave B’.
“Who could have predicted that 25 years later the man who took me from my musician’s life of brass bands, jazz and orchestras into the world of house, would be asking me to a do a gig for him with… a symphony orchestra? Apparently I just need to turn up with my trombone and Dave will have the rest covered”.
Co-writer and singer of Livin’ Joy’s Italo-house classic Dreamer, Janice Robinson floored Robbie Williams, Simon Cowell and the X Factor panel when she returned to the stage with the song in 2018. She performs a new arrangement of her number 1 hit, plus Robin S’s Show Me Love.
Also joining the bill, Happy Mondays vocalist Rowetta found a new audience through another legendary X Factor audition, and became the only female to reach the final four in 2004. She recently announced that she will be rejoining the seminal Manchester band for an epic Greatest Hits tour this winter. “Last year I came to the party and it was so beautiful”, she says. “It will be a real honour for me to be up on stage this year, performing with the wonderful Orchestra of Opera North and my good friend, the one and only Dave Beer of the legendary Back to Basics, alongside so much great talent.”
British gospel and house singer Rachel McFarlane (Let The Music Lift You Up; Lover) and longstanding Back to Basics associate Sara Garvey return to the stage following last year’s concert, and a trio of talented backing vocalists will take centre stage for more club and electronica anthems.
“I am really honoured once again to be working alongside the brilliant Orchestra of Opera North and Leeds City Council on the third edition of The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics”, says DJ, producer and founder of Back to Basics Dave Beer. “This year’s show is set to be another amazing spectacle, and I am so excited to be able to collaborate with my good friends Andy Cato and Mikey (MC M.A.D.) from dance legends Groove Armada, Rowetta from Happy Mondays, and of course, the amazingly talented Heather Small.
“Once again we’ll close the show with my favourite part: the voices of Leeds Community Choir led by our very own Cleve Freckleton, with some extra performing arts from the young people of Leeds.”
For the past two years the Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics concerts have offered a new way to experience clubbing, filling Millennium Square’s stunning open-air arena with the good vibes that Beer’s Leeds institution is famed for. This year’s concert on 27 July is part of the Opera North in the City weekend, which opens on Friday 26 July with 80s Classical – featuring original guest vocalists including Jimmy Somerville and Nik Kershaw – and closes with a live soundtrack screening of Jurassic Park on Sunday 28 July.
A limited number of Early Bird tickets for The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics are available priced at £29.50, with a VIP bar upgrade on offer for an additional £7.00. Anyone booking both 80s Classical and The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics can save £7.50 on the combined ticket price.