Here He lies — But Amsterdam’s Ian Prowse is still very much alive and live

PELE. Amsterdam. Both great names for bands, almost statements of intent to be the best at what they stand for.

Frontman Ian Prowse, who at various stages has operated under both monikers as well as his own for almost 30 years, says it’s his job to provide passionate music, created for the right reasons and with a message.

It was a message not often heard on the airwaves just post the hedonistic Thatcherite pop era of Wham, Duran and Spandau and it stood out like a red flag at a Conservative Party conference.

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Pele’s debut single Raid The Palace, despite its anti-monarchy content, gained plenty of Radio One play back in the day, something genial Liverpudlian Prowse knows won’t happen with songs from new album Here I Lie. Songs such as All The Royal Houses, which carry on the Windsor residence theme several imaginary beheadings later.

Ian, who plays a solo show at Sheffield’s The Hubs on April 6,  says: “It’s a reaffirmation of the pledge that I made with Pele with Raid the Palace as our first single. People might think that is something you do or write about when you are young and when you get older you mellow out, but that’s not the case with me.

“All The Royal Houses is probably one of my favourite songs on the new album. Raid the Palace was on the A-List on Radio One and no-one ever really talked about the lyrics whereas with All The Royal Houses it’s unbelievable. Older people now are all on social media and it’s amazing how many people feel like this about the royals.”

Ian, who grew up on a council estate in Ellesmere Port (”My mum and dad thought I was mad saying I wanted to be in a band”), readily admits his musical output stalled when Pele ended and he was in litigation with his record company, while Britpop bands who had supported him such as Pulp, Cast and the Bluetones, went on to sample plenty of chart action, but social media has helped him spread his message.

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He says: “I feel like my career has been like the tortoise and the hare and I am determined to win.

“When I started basically you had to be on the radio or the NME had to champion you. Because I was on Radio One the NME didn’t like us. It’s more democratic now. The NME is irrelevant but an article in the Rotherham Advertiser will reach far more people because I can put it on my website and fans will share it all over the world and reach far more people.

Amsterdam just couldn’t get arrested at first though. So-called talent shows on TV were producing stuff like Hear’Say and suddenly by 25 you were too old for a record deal. We couldn’t get a deal to save our lives even though I’d written some really good songs. Then we realised the internet was going to become something much more powerful and we based ourselves around that and slowly began building it up. Now I’m in a full-blown renaissance!”

Ian has been touring the 25th anniversary of Fireworks and certain songs on Here I lie could easily have come from that album.

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“I guess the opening track Joseph could equally have been on Fireworks and there are songs that could easily have been early Amsterdam. We had the original Pele Hammond organ player on the track and the artwork on the album is by the same painter Paul Delaroche, who painted scenes from history,” he says.

Ian has written some classics in his time — Fair Blows The Wind For France, Home, The Journey, Nothing’s Goin’ Right and the anthemic Does This Train Stop On Merseyside — and the new album has at least three in American Wake, All The Royal Houses and Ned Maddrell.

He said: “The album interconnects the past, present and future, but the main influence was my last album Companeros, on which I did songs by long forgotten songwriters. It was like a greatest hits of songs you hadn’t necessarily heard like My Name Is Dessie Warren and Derry Gaol, so when I came to write Here I Lie that was what I put myself up against. We had to match those songs.

“It’s been 18 months in the making. I write the songs but Tony Kiley, who has been producing me for 20 years, tragically lost his wife towards the end of the recording and we had to face that. I didn’t know if he would have the strength to get to the end, but we did it for her.”

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As well as playing, Ian runs an open-mic club for musicians and comedians at Liverpool’s Cavern every Monday night, which has been going for eight years. “There was a guy the other night who wanted to tune his guitar just like a certain Liverpudlian musician, and I said he is just a lazy b******d who hasn’t done anything for 30 years, just do it like you want to do it.

“I don’t get musicians and artists like that who just stop. Why do they do that? I just can’t stop. It’s not something you just do until you’ve got enough money or like Mumford & Sons forming a band in a gap year.”

Ian never stopped and like his beloved Tranmere Rovers, he got knocked down but he got up again, although one person he might be best not asking for help from is friend Elvis Costello. “I’ve taken him to watch Rovers twice and we got beat both times, so I've told him to ***** ****."

Ian Prowse plays The Hubs at Sheffield Hallam University on Saturday April 6. Tickets are available at or through his website His new album Here I Lie is now available at

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