LOCKDOWN life was quiet for many artists, but Merseyside firebrand Ian Prowse used the time to bring songs old and new to his expanding community of fans who got together on 40 consecutive Friday night for live online shows.
The Amsterdam and Pele frontman put together new sets for each Facebook Live gig, compiled a best of and gave the 20-year-old Attitunes album its first proper release.
He hasn’t wasted time since the country “opened up” either, recording a new album slated for a February release and getting Amsterdam back out on the road.
Prowse, a working class lad from Ellesmere Port, says: “I was touring with Elvis Costello and then this cloud arrived and we were told we weren’t going to finish the tour because of Covid. I thought I’ll go online and play a few shows and 40 Friday nights later we had one of the most successful, fulfilling, best times of my career.
“I had an entire community with me every Friday; people singing along, talking to each other online, telling us what they were drinking, helping each other through a terrible time.
“People recommended songs for me to play every week and it was hard work creating a different set for every Friday, including cover versions, which were all of songs that I love.
“People rediscovered old songs of mine and sometimes heard them for the first time, and we had brought out The Story of Ian Prowse best of so people were discovering old Pele songs and Amsterdam tunes. Then we re-released the Attitunes album. Some of these songs we are playing live now and the atmosphere is great and the shows are selling out.
“We’re playing some of the new songs as well and the most important thing for me is to be an artistic going concern. I don’t want people coming to shows just because I wrote certain songs like Does This Train Stop On Merseyside or Home years ago. It’s great and I will always play those songs but I want to remain relevant and to continue to move on, to compete with myself.”
The recent Here I Lie album has already elevated the likes of The Ballad of North John St, Something’s Changed and All The Royal Houses to fans’ favourite status alongside many featured on The Story of Ian Prowse such as Raid The Palace, Fair Blows The Wind For France, Home, The Journey and, of course, Does This Train Stop On Merseyside.
He explains that while he’s proud of the songs he’s released with Pele and Amsterdam, and as a solo artist, it’s the future that concerns him. “I am mastering a new album now which is out in February and we’re really happy with it. We sent it to the label and they came back and said they were delighted.
“A lot of it was written before lockdown but listening back it has definitely got lockdown influences. You can tell something has happened. Whereas the Here I Lie album was about a certain time this is a bit more spiritual. There’s a bit of a rallying cry in there — let us look after each other.
“We got a gospel choir in to sing on a couple of the songs which was a real success.
“You do have a sound and vision in your head when you write a song and there’s one on there that has turned out exactly as I thought and that has only happened with about three songs in my career.”
His upcoming tour takes in a Sheffield show on October 1 and visits Belfast, London and Glasgow before concluding with a full band gig at Liverpool’s O2 Academy on December 11.
The band has already played a number of shows in support of the release of the 20-years-old Attitunes —which includes the punchy You’re A Phoney, statement of intent Taking On The World and wistful Feels Like Growing Up — which have gone down really well and Prowse says: “The reaction we are getting is amazing. People are hungry for hugs, drink and music and are really getting into it, which is fantastic.”
What we all really want to know though is how did he end up playing table tennis with Kylie Minogue? “We were recording a Pele album in the middle of nowhere in the remote countryside and I got really bored so we went to London and we were playing table tennis and she walked in. She asked what was the name of the dog we had with us, we started talking and we asked her to do the scoring for the game and then she played a game with us. She was really nice.”
If Kylie is reading this, we reckon there’s a guestlist slot available for her at the Sheffield gig!
Ian Prowse plays with a full band at the Greystones in Sheffield on Friday October 1. Tickets are available from www.wegottickets.com