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Ex-Bluetones frontman Morriss kickstarts Half Moon live season

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For artists touring the circuit with original material, Covid-19 enforced a mighty long lay-off. All the more reason to celebrate, as former Bluetones songwriter and lead vocalist Mark Morriss takes to the stage in The Long Room on North Street on Thursday July 22 for a solo set.

Led by Morriss, The Bluetones scored 13 Top 40 singles and three Top 10 albums in the UK charts during the Britpop era, including Learning To Fly, which went platinum and reached number one. Morriss released his debut solo record Memory Muscle in 2008, followed by A Flash Of Darkness in 2015. He has an extensive body of work behind him, and says that the audience can expect a mix of material from throughout his prolific career.

The Half Moon show will not be his first gig back: "In May I played a socially distanced show up in Sunderland, and another in Leeds the next evening. It was a little like learning to walk again, but I've been playing seated shows since then, and have to say I rather enjoy the jazz club vibe that 'drinks to the table' lends to the acoustic shows.

Mark Morriss will perform at the Half Moon (49203282)
Mark Morriss will perform at the Half Moon (49203282)

"Like a lot of people I think I was a little overawed by the stillness of everything at first [during the pandemic], and not thinking it would it last as long as it has, I treated it like a bit of a holiday. That eventually led to playing guitar in the back garden, and with that new songs started to emerge."

With all the social restrictions, collaboration was nigh on impossible, but once this relaxed a little Morriss was able to return to the studio and record vocals for an album by The Helicopter Of The Holy Ghost which is released on August 13. "It obviously made the process a bit more challenging than usual, but everybody embraced the uniqueness of the situation and the record sounds great. Which is all that counts," he added.

"I like to keep the sets quite fluid and spontaneous. There's Bluetones material as well as my own solo stuff, and one or two of the newer songs I've been toiling over. It's great to test those in front of an audience and gauge people's reaction to them."

Mark Morriss will perform at the Half Moon (49203263)
Mark Morriss will perform at the Half Moon (49203263)

He expected a very busy year from here on in. The Bluetones will be touring throughout August, there is the release of the Helicopter Of The Holy Ghost record to come out, and Morriss is also touring as part of MCH with Nigel Clark and Chris Helme throughout December, supporting Shed 7 on their UK dates.

"After such an extended period twiddling my thumbs I don't think I've been quite this busy for years – bring it on," he concluded.

Mark Morriss plays at The Horn at The Half Moon on Thursday, July 22. Support comes from Tom Ryder and Steve Young. Doors at 8pm. Tickets are £10 in advance or £12 on the door, subject to availability. Visit www.thehornbs.co.uk for more information.

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