Ahead of his homecoming gig on the new stage at Symphony Hall, a B:Music venue this Sunday, we spoke to Pete Williams about his music, his fans and his return.
This is your homecoming gig, how does it feel to be back at Symphony Hall?
Birmingham is the place that I grew up around and I guess, the city I know best. I have played the Symphony hall previously with Dexys in 2013, and I’ve attended some outstanding shows there over the years, but this’ll be the first time with my band. Although we were honoured to be invited to open for The Specials on 21 UK dates last August/September and we headlined The Lunar Stage at Moseley folk festival last year, this one, at the new Jennifer Blackwell performance space, will be a show with my full band , playing songs that span my 3 albums as well as showcasing new material, in front of an audience that have specifically come to see us.
You played here when our new entrance was just a building site, what do you think of our new stage?
Nick (CEO) very kindly invited me to perform a short solo acoustic set captured by a socially distanced film crew in early June 2020 during the first lockdown , Covid. Protocol and health and safety was closely observed on site , hence the hard hat and hi vis waistcoat that you can see me wearing so stylishly in the video below... The whole world was in a weird place due to the pandemic, and so was I, but doing that performance in the dusty and draughty building site at Symphony hall was a positive focus for me, and turned out to be something of a personal turning point.
I’m really looking forward to playing the new, amazing live space, without the hi vis vest, though I might keep the hard hat as a homage to The village people...
Covid-19 has been devastating for artists, what were your experiences over lockdown and how does it feel to be playing again?
Like a lot of people, I felt quite lost, at first. We had all live commitments postponed or cancelled, the band were working on ideas for a new album, that had to stop for a while, working remotely and exchanging audio sketches online can work well, up to a point, but I wanted to feel the presence of my band and their input during the creation and growth of new songs. I questioned myself about the use and the worth of music and musicians in such devastating times, but kept reminding myself of the fact that at past times of crisis, people have turned to artists and musicians to help them recover, heal ,and feel better about themselves.
I felt for everyone in my industry, crew, promoters, drivers, venue owners, festival organisers, caterers, riggers, there’s a whole lot of dedicated, talented people behind the scenes that help make a live show a magical, memorable experience and it seemed that we had all been hung out to dry, with no support.
Out of the blue last August, I was contacted by Horace Panter from The Specials and invited as support on their UK tour, very soon after that I opened 11 shows for my friends the Stone Foundation on their tour. It felt great to be out telling tales and singing songs again.
Due to one of our party testing positive we had to postpone the original Symphony hall date in December to this one on Sunday Feb 20th. Thankfully, things are opening up again now, albeit slowly, and with some reticence but fingers crossed we’re heading for the sunny uplands.
The band are in fine form and we’re joined on Sunday by our incredibly talented friend and harmonica player Clive Mellor.
Should be a great night!
What’s the best thing about Birmingham fans?
Is there a question you’ve never been asked that you think you should have? What’s the answer?
Is Len in?