16 JULY 2020 9
The singer and radio DJ
on his friendship with Ed
Sheeran and The Spice Girls
1 Where are you? In my TV room,
looking at the laptop. Son Cooper is
out playing in the garden and daughter
Coco is on wife Storm’s lap, having a feed.
2 Your new album Twenty Twenty
celebrates your 20th year as a
solo artist. Do you feel like a veteran?
I joined Boyzone aged 16, so I was one of the
youngest when we met other bands on Top
of the Pops. I still feel like that teenager at
times – I’ve never been hung up on my age.
3 Ed Sheeran plays guitar on the
album. What’s his favourite song
of yours? Ed plays on a new 2020 version
of When You Say Nothing At All, and I hope
it has resonated with him in some way.
4 You won Best Parent in Pop at
the Smash Hits Poll Winners’
Party 1999. Would your kids agree?
I hope so! I feel blessed to have a great
relationship with my kids. You try and do
your best for your kids, love them and be
there for them when they need you.
5 Where in the world does the
best breakfast? During lockdown
I’ve dreamt of being on Bondi Beach, and in
particular breakfast at Chapter One. They
do a dish called Hungry Chaps. It’s massive,
and perfect for a jet-lagged first morning.
6 All-time favourite girl band?
The Spice Girls. Boyzone and the girls
spent a lot of time together in those early
days, and it’s great to still have a friendship
with them all so many years later.
7 What’s the best thing about being
on Magic Radio at 6am every day?
Everything, apart from the early mornings.
It would be perfect if we could do the
breakfast show live in the afternoon!
Twenty Twenty is out on 24 July
Interview: Nick Neads
music festival held at 12 venues across the UK –
including airports, racecourses and football grounds
– where ticket holders will be able to watch big-name
acts such as The Streets, Dizzee Rascal and KT
Tunstall (below) from the comfort of their own cars.
Meanwhile, if classical music is more your scene,
English National Opera will host what is being billed
as the world’s first drive-in opera at Alexandra Palace,
north London, in September. Some 300 carloads of
ticket-holders will enjoy an abridged, 90-minute
rendition of Puccini’s La bohème, performed live on
stage (with large screens on either side). As
an added incentive, they also have allocated
spaces for bicycles near the stage.
With social distancing measures set to
continue and an estimated 400 grassroots
venues facing permanent closure as
a result of the lockdown, events like these
are offering a lifeline to artists, according
to the award-winning cellist Sheku Kanneh-
Mason, who is performing at four Live
Nation concerts along with his acclaimed
pianist sister, Isata.
“This is definitely going to be a
brand-new experience for both
of us,” says 21-year-old Sheku,
who became a household name
in 2018 after performing at the
wedding of The Duke and Duchess
events like these
are offering a
lifeline to artists’
of Sussex in front of a global audience of almost two
billion. “We’ve been playing on Facebook throughout
lockdown but the last time we performed in front of
an actual audience was back in March so we could
not be more excited about it.
“It’s early days but if these kinds of events work
well and they get a good response from the public
then I don’t see why they wouldn’t become far more
commonplace in the near future.”
Could the UK really be on the cusp of a drive-in
renaissance? Though interest in the format is
certainly on the up, it appears that it still has a long
way to go. In the US, where drive-in cinemas have
been around since 1933, there are 549 registered
outdoor screens. Here, by contrast, there are just 20,
most of which close their box offices during winter.
Furthermore, not all forms of entertainment are
well-suited to the model. Few people know this
better than promoter Andy Greer, who is currently
organising a programme of drive-in comedy gigs in
the car park of the Rotunda comedy club in Glasgow.
“Events like these don’t offer a complete substitute
for actual comedy clubs as you don’t have the same
intensity of interaction,” he says. “This is mainly
because it is extremely hard for performers to riff
off an audience if they can’t hear the people they are
performing to. But if you’re willing to think out of the
box then there are ways to improve the experience.
“For example, we are looking into connecting
audience members to the comedians using Zoom,
so that performers can hear and respond to laughter
and clapping from people inside their cars.”
An added hurdle for drive-in entrepreneurs is
adhering to ever-changing government guidelines.
Andy had planned to launch his drive-in comedy club
in May and had already invested in a mobile stage
when the event was cancelled by concerned council
officials. Unfazed, he pledged to continue once the
restrictions were relaxed. The first drive-in event was
due to be held on 15 July, and there are plans to take
the show on the road around Scotland.
“We’re going to keep the gigs short and snappy by
hosting five comedians who will each have 10
minutes to entertain the audience,” Andy adds. “It’s
a shorter evening than we would normally host
but we want to limit the number of times the
toilet is used to adhere to the current
guidance. And we’ll definitely be
focusing on soft drinks – beer and cars
don’t really mix.
“There are lots of things to think about
when organising a drive-in, which
makes them tricky to host. But at
the end of the day, events like
these are helping to
boost the morale of
both performers and
And let’s face it – we
could all benefit from a little
distraction right now.”
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Photography: Hulton Archive / Getty Images, Shutterstock