Bring a smile - and party with Marti in Peterborough
He became a household name as the frontman of one of the biggest pop bands of the late 80s and 90s.
He carved out a glittering musical theatre career on stage which took him to the West End and Broadway.
Now Marti Pellow is back doing what he loves best - and as he prepares to bring his Greatest Hits tour to Peterborough he has a simple message for fans: “Just bring a smile”.
The Wet Wet Wet star released an album of his own songs earlier this year, penned during lockdown, but says his show – at Peterborough’s New Theatre on November 17 – won’t be about new music it will be about entertaining and having a good time
“Coming out of the last year and a half, navigating that, I thought it would be a good idea to come out and sing some songs for people,” said Marti. “I am really looking forward to getting back to my day job, doing what I have a great love and passion for, which is singing.
“I want to go out and do a show that is more about entertaining than educating, have a good time singing the songs that everybody is familiar with.”
And that is something he did during lockdown with his “lockdown sessions” on Facebook which reached millions of people across the world.
“That was a revelation to me, seeing the way people reacted to that,” he said.
“I was sitting in my spare bedroom singing some songs and 12 or 13million people later I thought: ‘oh my God what was that?’”
So how did it come about?
“It all started with a family asking me to sing a song for their mum who unfortunately caught covid,” he recalled. “I thought that’s OK and I sang something into a mobile phone and it kind of went from there – it ended up being 130 songs or something, it was lovely for me, fun.
“And before you know it someone is listening to you in Kuala Lumpur , it is amazing.
“I was doing a James Taylor song one day – and then got a message from him saying ‘fantastic, I loved your version of the song’. You never know who is on the other side of the screen. It is amazing.”
So now it is all about going out on tour and performing live once again.
“I want to go out of and reintroduce myself to audiences,” Marti admitted. “I did a show the other weekend and it was lovely to see the whole live environment, it was fantastic to see people enjoying themselves. families and friends with smiles on their faces . That is the evening I want to put on when I come to Peterborough.”
It won’t be his first visit, of course, as anyone who saw him in Evita in 2013 will recall.
“I have played Peterborough before,” he remembered. “I did Evita and thoroughly enjoyed being in that theatre, it was beautiful inside.”
But how did that side of his career come about?
“I was doing a night at the Albert Hall for Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry for the Teenage Cancer Trust and I had been singing that night and invited a couple of people up to sing with me. One of the people was Ruthie Henshall who had just come back from Broadway where she was appearing in the musical Chicago. A couple of producers were in the audience and saw me and Ruthie singing came back stage and said: ‘hey Marti do you fancy doing a bit of musical theatre?’
“I thought I would got to see the show and I fell in love with it. I worked with some wonderful people and before you know it I was on Broadway – and that was it.
“I worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Abba boys in Chess, Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers and Bill Kenwright has championed me and always offered me shows, which is fantastic.”
Come the evening of November 17, what can the audience expect, then?
“This show is not about a bunch of new songs and trying to educate people about my music, it is about coming out and having a sing-song and if you are brave enough to get up and have a dance then fill your boots.
“The only thing I require is for the audience to bring a smile and some cheers. That’s what gets me excited. If you shout out loud enough I will probably sing it.
“The other thing is I don’t tend to put a set together and then that is the way it is. I play to my audience and when playing places the size of Peterborough you can contain that and work the audience, playing what you think will work best. I have a band that knows my back catalogue and is very intuitive.”
And he really looking forward to being up there on stage with a live audience.
“We all love that,” he says, “we have all missed the power of the collective and being in a theatre and listening to live music. If you enjoyed that before the pandemic then I think now you will enjoy it even more.
“My industry was the first to close and the last to open – everyone wanted to get back to work , there is love and enthusiasm for what they do. This is a great time to see any artist.
“ When it was taken away from me I missed that with a passion. When the artist is feeding the audience and the audience is feeding the artist it is a wonderful shared experience. I want people to come and have a great night and walk away knowing me a wee bit better.”
And what does the future hold for Marti?
“I have been fortunate to have a fan base and people come and support me and they get switched on to different genres, just like I do.
“I have had a very eclectic career. I started off in a pop band, I found myself on Broadway, and played everywhere from Madison Square Gardens to most theatres touring around the world. I feel very blessed. I just want to enjoy growing as an artist whatever I am doing or where I am performing.
“The only thing I ask the audience to do is bring a smile.”