A Prefabulous return to pop
It’s been 10 years since Prefab Sprout went on tour. Now after the long break, Co Durham’s Paddy McAloon and his band are taking to the road once again to the delight of their loyal army of fans
t’s often been said that Paddy McAloon is a rare species – a rock “n” roller who doesn’t like the limelight and has kept his feet firmly on the ground.
As the lead singer of Prefab Sprout, Paddy has been in the music business for more than 20 years – but he has always maintained that he is happier getting the bus in to Newcastle than cruising through the streets of London in a limo. And he has never courted celebrity status.
“Living up here keeps my feet on the ground,” he said. “I’d much rather live where people treat me normally than anywhere else.”
Writing songs for pal Jimmy Nail and his Crocodile Shoes series brought the cash rolling in for Paddy at a time when other members of the band went back to teaching to make ends meet.
The windfall also paid for Paddy’s studio next to his house in Consett, Co Durham – the perfect hideaway for the modest star.
“Living in the North is important to me,” he said. “Once I’m in my studio there are very few outside influences. I can please myself in there and I’m not paying the earth to hire expensive studio time.
“What I do enjoy is not being famous. I like to be able to get the bus in to town and chat to people in the street. I enjoy working at home, being near my family and friends. It’s nice to be removed from the pop scene in London.
“I don’t have any problems going shopping or anything and that’s how I like it. It’s living with level-headed people that keeps my feet on the ground.
“After all I’ve been all around the world and seen everything I could ever want to see – and more. But in the end I can think of no better place to live than Consett.”
Paddy has never sought fame. Neither did he expect to become lead singer of the band he formed in a Co Durham garage with his brother.
“From 1977 until 1982 I always thought we’d meet a lead singer and I was just filling in the gap until that happened,” he said.
“I wrote the songs and we didn’t know anyone else who could sing, so I did it.
“Then I realised I didn’t want to surrender the lead role. I was worried another singer might not sing my songs how I wanted them to be sung.
“I understand how other writers who have taken a backstage role feel.”
It’s lucky he hung on to the pole position – the band would not have been the same without him at the mike.
The band will be performing in Newcastle at the City Hall on April 8. Other gigs arranged include Leeds, Manchester, London, Southampton, Cambridge, Liverpool, Glasgow, Warwick, Bristol and Nottingham.
The tour follows the recent “38 Carat Collection” Anthology album.
So why now, after all these years?
“I suppose it does look a little perverse,” says Paddy, “but I hope people will enjoy songs both old and new in a slightly more stripped down setting.
“I must say I am really looking forward to it.”
Prefab Sprout’s Steve McQueen album of 1985 and follow-up From Langley Park to Memphis, in 1988, scooped both critical acclaim and commercial success.
The release of their 38 Carat Collection album on Sony recently has sparked interest in both the band and songwriter Paddy.
The response to their tour has been overwhelming.
An extra London date has already been added to meet huge demand, and their Newcastle City Hall gig on Saturday is already selling out quickly.
Paddy took a seven-year retreat from recording the release of Jordan: The Comeback in 1990.
Fans will notice a change in Paddy’s appearance. And even the diehard fans could be forgiven for a double-take.
“I’ve got the longest beard you’ve ever seen and I’m a big bloke now,” he smiles. ”Some people may be in for a shock.”