Mark my words, I’m a lucky man

The Foes
The Foes
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Mark Radcliffe and The Foes

Clitheroe Grand

While Mark Radcliffe’s old band, the roustabout folksters The Family Mahone, was all about drinking songs, the Foes is the soundtrack to the Saturday morning hangover.

The musician and DJ, who presented the Radio One breakfast Show Mark and Lard, said: “They’re songs about things that have not worked out as expected; relationships falling apart, evenings that have ended in chaos and things we regret.

“The music itself is joyous, happy and jaunty – there’s real stories behind it as well so we talk about that between songs.

“We do tend to dwell on the melancholy aspects of life, but we can be a little bit dark too.”

The Foes are Russell Mabbutt, Chris Lee and Mark Woolley, packing accordions, bass, mandolin, whistles and percussion, while Radcliffe strums the guitar and sings.

“Expect the unexpected, from covers of Slade, Hank Williams and Cockney Rebel, to a few jaunty songs I’ve written,” he added.

“I’m 56 and I’ve been playing in bands for 40 years so I feel like I’ve done my fair share of dark, dingy clubs.

“I like playing to different people in different places with a variety of things going on.

Radcliffe continues to enjoy his day job on the airwaves, taking charge of Radio 2’s Folk Show after Mike Harding was axed by the station after a fifteen year stint at the helm.

“Anyone who knows me, or has seen one of my gigs, knows how steeped in folk I am, and I’m also well aware of how loved and cherished Mike Harding is and it was daunting to follow in his footsteps.

“The best bit is doing something I love. I get to mess around with records, chat to bands and do a bit of talking in between.”

Radcliffe, who has interviewed many of pop’s biggest stars, admits David Bowie was the closest thing he ever had to a musical hero.

He recalled: “The first time I saw him in concert was 1973 at the Manchester Hardrock, a long defunct venue now re-modelled as a branch of B&Q.

“Thirty years later I had been invited to introduce him live on stage at Hammersmith Odeon where many years before he had killed off his Ziggy Stardust character.

“He asked me into his dressing room to ask my opinion on that night’s greatest hits set list.

“Here was my idol, the man who fell to earth, the Thin White Duke, soliciting an opinion from a Lancashire lad who paid £1.25 to stand in awe and wonder in front of the Hardrock stage where B&Q now display vinyl flooring.

“How had that happened? It still feels like the phone will ring tomorrow and someone will say: ‘That’s enough pal, you’re finished.

“I’m incredibly lucky to do what I do.”

Mark Radcliffe and The Foes, are at Clitheroe Grand Theatre tonight, tickets £12.50. Call 01200 421599.

Tony Dewhurst