The Hale Barns Carnival returns for its third year, surpassing previous events with a musical line-up which much larger festivals may well envy, Natalie Anglesey chats with Martin Kemp about his involvement
Due to phenomenal demand, another high-status act has been added to the 80’s line-up with headliner Spandau Ballet’s Martin Kemp on the DJ turntables. He’ll join Owen Paul, who swapped the football pitch for music and shot to fame with ‘My Favourite Waste of Time’, and Nathan Moore from Brother Beyond, with their hit ‘The Harder I Try’, as well as disco and soul legends Odyssey and The Real Thing.
Max Eden, from Hale Barns Events, is the enthusiastic person behind the organisation: “This year is most definitely our biggest line-up to date, and I’m excited that we have yet another brilliant performer to add to the programme. I grew up listening to the hits of Spandau Ballet and having seen Martin Kemp on the turntables at the Rewind Festival; I was again suitably impressed. I loved his whole set which pulled people together. There was a great community feel about his whole act- so we’re delighted he’s joining us for the Hale Barns Carnival.”
Martin will headline the Sunday evening concert with a Back to the 80s DJ set, to entertain the crowd. He admits that his life changed for the better when he joined his big brother Gary’s band, The Gentry, as the bass player, before it being renamed Spandau Ballet. The rest, as they say, is history.
“I remember Manchester with great affection,” Martin tells me. “In the early days with the band we played in all sorts of clubs - but don’t ask me to name them because they’re probably all pulled down by now. But when we became more successful, we played the larger venues and had a great reception. Of course, I knew Granada Television Studios better when I was acting in Manchester. But I’ll tell you what I love most about this city. Eventually, they stopped knocking down the lovely old buildings and started renovating them- particularly around the canal. So I’m really looking forward to coming back and seeing if I recognise anywhere now.”
Spandau Ballet, with the brothers Kemp and lead vocalist Tony Hadley, achieved musical success with four of their albums reaching the Top Ten in the UK album charts. The song ‘True’ also gave the band their first UK number one album and top-selling single. They also enjoyed worldwide fame with hits like ‘Only When You Leave’, ‘Through the Barricades’, and ‘Gold’. Sadly, because of a dispute over royalties, the band split up in the early 1990s. Although they eventually reformed in 2009, that reunion didn’t last long. Had Martin kept in touch? “Let’s just say I keep in touch with close friends, but of course my brother and I remain really close and talk regularly.”
In the interim Martin had pursued a successful TV and film career with roles in EastEnders and The Krays, as well as TV appearances on Celebrity Big Brother and Celebrity Island. “I was happiest judging the BBC talent show Let It Shine because I was discovering and mentoring young musical talent.”
But I wondered when the DJ act began? “Well, I’ve been doing it for about a year now and absolutely loving it. It’s a great feeling reminding crowds what a great period the eighties were for good music. You can see them singing along, and they know all the words - almost reliving a happy time in their lives – it’s a kind of role-playing! When I grew up, you had to save your pocket money up to buy your favourite record which you’d play again and again. Now music is much more accessible to people. So there’s the nostalgia value. Although all music is on a computer these days at gigs, I like to mix it up so that it’s familiar, but almost sounds new with just a little different edge to it. Yet still keeps the crowds happy!”
Martin laughed when I asked if his DJ son Roman had given him any tips? “He’s far too busy with his successful Capital FM Radio show,” he laughs. “But I’m not just proud of him because he’s followed me into the music business but because he’s grown into a nice lad. I’m equally proud of my daughter Harley who makes commercials for television and is also into music.”
London- born Martin grew up in Islington and attended the Anna Scher Children’s Theatre drama club with his brother Gary. As a child actor, he appeared in many TV shows including Jackanory, The Tomorrow People and Dixon of Dock Green. Little did the two brothers know then they would go on to make a film about the notorious Kray twins, Ronald and Reginald.
“Well, you see that project was a subject close to my mum and dad as they had grown up in the same area as the Krays. It was also great filming with my brother because that mutual trust was there which is so important in acting.”
Their film performances received a great deal of critical acclaim. So Martin moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s and made appearances in television series such as The Outer Limits and Highlander. He appeared in a couple of Hollywood horror films before returning home to play an award-winning role as Steve Owen in EastEnders famously. Would he contemplate returning to a television series?
“I’ve learnt in this business never to say never again,” Martin laughs. He also starred in several television dramas, including Can’t Buy Me Love opposite fellow EastEnders star, Michelle Collins, although he says he’s happiest these days behind the camera.
“I discovered directing is my passion, and I have my own production company. My first feature film, as a director, was Stalker released in 2011. I also directed a low-budget 20-minute short film entitled Karma Magnet, which starred my brother Gary, my son Roman and my wife, Shirlie.”
Shirlie was a former backing singer in Wham! And was one half of the 1980s pop duo, Pepsi and Shirlie- so music’s very much a family affair. Along with his son, Martin featured in a factual television series, Dangerous Adventures For Boys, based on the best-selling book, and also guest -starred as Mr Burley in the BBC drama series, Waterloo Road.
A mixture of stage and television still keeps Martin busy. He appeared in the UK and Ireland tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the musical alongside Jason Manfred, Michelle Collins and Phil Jupitus. He went on to host the first series of Martin Kemp’s Murder Files on the UK TV channel Quest. But music remains his first love and the reason that brings him back to the Hale Barns Carnival.
The weekend’s programme will open at noon on the Saturday with an exceptional performance from the Manchester Survivors Choir, including survivors and people directly affected by the Manchester Arena bomb attack in 2017. Saturday evening’s concert shines a spotlight on disco and soul with live performances from The Real Thing and Odyssey.
Odyssey return to Hale Barns directs from the USA. They played at the very first Hale Barns Carnival in 2017 – and they’re set to wow audiences for a second time with hits including ‘Use It Up & Wear It Out’, ‘Native New Yorker’, ‘Inside Out’, and the iconic disco anthem ‘Going Back To My Roots’. Liverpool soul legends, The Real Thing, featuring original band members Chris Amoo and Dave Smith, will perform their hits including ‘You To Me Are Everything’, ‘Can’t Get By Without You’, and ‘Feel The Force’.
On Sunday evening, audiences will be transported back to the 8o’s as Max Eden sums up: “Having seen how Martin gets the whole crowd involved and watching Owen Paul perform at another festival. Their energy on stage is infectious and just perfect for Hale Barns Carnival. The whole point of this festival is that every penny of the ticket money will go towards building a community centre for Hale Barns. We need to build a centre which will house everything we need as a community centre for adult learning. It’ll cost over £1million, so we need another £100 thousand. But this is going to be a year to remember for sure!”
Organised by Hale Barns Events, the carnival promises fun for all the family with more than 100 attractions including falconry displays, magic illusionists, traditional funfair rides, and an artisan market free of charge between 12 pm and 5 pm. Live entertainment during both days includes talented local acts, and award-winning tribute acts celebrating the music of Bananarama, Status Quo, and Duran Duran. The evening concerts are ticketed, and the gates open at 6 pm with the shows starting at 7.30pm. 100% of the ticket revenue will go towards community projects.
Hale Barns Carnival 2019, St Ambrose Playing Fields, Hale Road, Hale Barns, Altrincham WA15 0HE
20th & 21st July 2019 : 12pm-10pm (Tickets required after 5pm)
facebook: www.facebook.com/HaleBarnsCarnival/ twitter: @HaleBarnsEvents #HBC19