Sheffield soul, rain or shine

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Well, somebody has got to do it.

Paul Carrack will take a break from his UK tour in February to jet off to Japan with Eric Clapton’s band.

The stock of the Sheffield singer, musician and writer remains high both among his peers and a very loyal fan base.

He returns with his band to the City Hall on Sunday and, judging by reports from his appearance at Buxton Opera House the other night, he is in fine form.

Certainly, the latest album, Rain Or Shine, is an excellent vehicle for his soulful voice.

“It’s a mixture of five new, self penned songs in my pop/soul kind of style plus five classic songs from artists such as Ray Charles, Bobby Bland and even Brenda Lee,” says Paul.

“Most of the basic tracks were recorded at home with my son Jack on drums. The string and horn arrangements by Richard Niles were recorded in Los Angeles.”

That’s arranger/producer/composer Richard Niles, who worked with Ray Charles in his later years

After more than 40 years in the music business, Paul Carrack has access to the best.

Emerging into the spotlight with 70s band Ace, a stint with Roxy Music followed before joining Squeeze and Mike and the Mechanics.

His distinguished solo career has encompassed diversions ranging from a collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Chorus to producing a big band album.

He always relishes his annual visit to the City Hall, meeting family and friends in the bar after the show, which will inevitably feature hits such as How Long, Living Years, Tempted, Eyes of Blue and Over My Shoulder

“I have no problem doing those well known songs. I enjoy singing them and I enjoy the audience reaction. We have loads of songs to choose from and of course we are doing a fair few of the songs from the new album so there is no problem in keeping it fresh.”

Any predictability is more than compensated for by a show whose roots can be traced back to in those early days in Crookes soaking up soul music and Motown.

“I am a soul boy and it was the soul singers of the ’60s who were my influence and my heroes when I was growing up. All a musician wants is an outlet, really. You want to be able to put your stuff out, do your gigs and have a good old sing. That keeps me happy.”

The tour follows shows in Europe and North America with Clapton, who personally invited to join his stellar band, linking up with another Sheffield musician, keyboard player Chris Stainton.

“It was a great opportunity, too good to turn down. Eric was on great form and when he turns it on it’s just amazing. The whole band were really top notch and we were looked after so well. I was there to play organ, but Eric featured me on three vocals including a Joe Cocker/ Chris Stainton song, High Time.”