A FORMER member of chart-topping 80s behemoths The Christians will be displaying his ‘rough-hewn charm’ at a gig in Burton this weekend. (April 28)
Henry Priestman once played the biggest venues in the UK with the band, known for hits such as Ideal World, but says he is enjoying his career more than ever, criss-crossing the UK to bring his stripped-down acoustic sound to the nation’s more discerning music lovers.
Priestman, who plays at The Madhouse, at the Brewhouse arts centre, tomorrow, told the Mail: “I played at places like Wembley Arena with The Christians but for me this is a thousand times more enjoyable — you get to see the whites of the audience’s eyes.
“Being in a band can be quite stressful but this way, it’s just me and I can be the moody singer if I want to be.
“It’s much more fun and satisfying and I love being on my own, just pottering up and down the country. I’m really loving it.” Priestman’s emergence as a lone performer, with the release of his solo debut album, 2008’s The Chronicles Of Modern Life, saw him taking on vocal duties for the first time since his distant past in 70s Liverpool-based new wave band Yachts, who once supported the likes of The Who.
“I thought, ‘I can’t sing’ but I met this chap and we wrote some songs together and he said ‘You’re singing it’,” he recalls.
“I describe myself as a bad Bob Dylan but I think it was the Sunday Times who wrote about my ‘rough-hewn charm’ while it’s also been described as ‘music for grumpy old men’.” Priestman’s expectation that the album would sell ‘about 200 copies’ was surpassed in style when, buoyed by some prime time airplay from BBC Radio 2’s Johnnie Walker, it was snapped up by the mighty Island Records, shifted 15,000 units and topped the Amazon sales chart.
Having performed with the reformed Christians in the last decade, Priestman, who appears at the Madhouse with youthful guitarist Ben Hughes, reflects fondly on his past with the band but has his eyes set firmly on the future.
“I’m very proud of what we did, to have played all the big arenas and had a triple-platinum selling record, but I don’t look back and I always say to people they should listen to my current record — I always look to the future.” Priestman’s appearance provides a further boost for The Madhouse, which is thriving again after being saved from the axe last year.
Organiser Alan Rutherford said: “Henry is a multi-million album-selling songwriter and to have someone of his calibre at The Madhouse is a real coup for us.
“I’ve seen Henry’s show with Ben Hughes at other venues and these guys don’t just come on stage and perform - they entertain, which is a completely different, and better, thing.” Doors for tomorrow’s gig open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.
Tickets, priced £10 on the door or £9 in advance, are available from the Brewhouse, in Union Street, or by calling 01283 508100.