Pop masters digging in for their first garden concert

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OVER 40 years, 10cc have played concert halls and festivals around the world.

But original member Graham Gouldman says: “I don’t think we have ever played in Botanical Gardens. It should be interesting.”

So Sheffield will make a little bit of popular music history when the band perform in S10 on Friday, July 6 as part of the Rotary Clubs of South Yorkshire’s annual Music in the Gardens.

Is the acclaimed writer, singer and bass player a keen gardener himself?

“Absolutely not! I have always employed somebody to who knows what they are doing. I have never had green fingers.”

In fact, his fingers have been employed in far more fruitful ways, helping to steer a band that racked up a string of big hits in the 70s - Wall Street Shuffle, The Things We Do for Love, Good Morning Judge, Dreadlock Holiday, Life Is a Minestrone, Arts for Art’s Sake ...

At the 40th anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall last month, Sheffield’s Paul Carrack joined them on stage to sing I’m Not In Love – “and a beautiful job he made of it”. (Original member Kevin Godley also popped up for a couple of numbers.)

It’s appropriate, then, that 10cc are following in the footsteps of Paul Carrack, whose band was one of the successes at last year’s Music in the Gardens.

Graham knows him well. “We did some writing together about 11 or 12 years ago and I’m sure we’ll do something together again, although we are from different areas of music. I like him as a person and respect him as a musician.”

After storming the charts and concert halls in the 70s with their clever, arty and instantly accessible brand of pop, 10cc’s star faded somewhat. A resurgence has been under way for a few years, as if the group has passed the test of history.

Relentless touring has reintroduced the pop masters to new audiences.

“Over the years there has always been interest in 10cc and 70s music in general,” says Graham. “There are a lot of good songs and people want to see good live music. It’s a different experience from a record, although that may sound better sonically.”

A long tour beckons in the autumn, including a date at Sheffield City Hall on October 24.

Graham may be the only original member but Paul Burgess has been behind the drums since 1973 and guitarist Rick Fenn since 1976. They have been joined by keyboard player Mike Stevens and multi-instrumentalist Mick Wilson. It’s an incredibly tight outfit that sees the hits burst into life.

And Graham says he still gets a thrill out of playing them. “I might have played them hundreds of times but it’s about the audience. There are people who have never seen us before and you want to make it good for them.”

He dismisses any chance of writing new songs for 10cc. He wouldn’t be comfortable with that. But he has a self-funded solo album, Love and Work, released in August. “People say it runs the gamut of all sorts on influences, from rock’n’roll to the Shadows to the poppier, The Beatles and 10cc. It’s also quite a personal album. I’m in a new relationship that’s wonderful and there are songs in there about that.”

There’s the prospect of a ‘solo’ tour next with some of the ‘boys’ while 10cc is given a rest in the UK.

From an early age, Graham Gouldman has had the knack of delivering pop classics. 10cc performances are often preceded with an acoustic rummage through some of his 60s hits for other artists – Pamela, Pamela (Wayne Fontana) Heart Full of Soul and For Your Love (The Yardbirds), Bus Stop and Look Through Any Window (The Hollies) and No Milk Today (Herman’s Hermits).

Given his contribution to music over many years, he could perhaps have merited a place in the line-up of the Jubilee concert in front of Buckingham Palace.

“Our keyboard player, Mike Stevens, was managing director on the gig. We now call him Sir Michael of Wisbech and treat him with a lot more respect! He did a fantastic job.”

Graham enjoyed the concert, especially Madness playing on top of the Palace.

Next time, how about 10cc performing I’m Not In Love on the roof?

“That’s a fabulous idea. I’d definitely go for that!”