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The Lightning Seeds frontman Ian Broudie on his affinity with Northern Ireland

Ahead of their gig at The Limelight, Belfast tomorrow, The Lightning Seeds frontman Ian Broudie tells David O'Dornan about his affinity with Northern Ireland and why he thinks we've entered a new chapter in music


Glory days: Ian Broudie will take to the stage at the Limelight

Glory days: Ian Broudie will take to the stage at the Limelight

Chris Lever/Shutterstock

Glory days: Ian Broudie will take to the stage at the Limelight

Belfast is "like a home from home" for The Lightning Seeds singer Ian Broudie, with the Liverpudlian songsmith looking forward to bringing his cult Nineties band here tomorrow for a two-set show.

Ian (61) joked that he is effectively his own support act as fans at The Limelight will be treated to classic hits like Life Of Riley in the second part of the show after first playing their album Jollification to mark 25 years since its release.

"I'm from Liverpool so I know a lot of people from Northern Ireland," he told the Belfast Telegraph. "It's very close and a very similar kind of place and obviously Liverpool's full of people from not just Belfast but the whole of Northern Ireland.

"So I've always felt a bit of an affinity, it's like a home from home in a way. I think it's the sense of humour and maybe a love for music as well - they're both quite musical, aren't they? You go to pubs and there's music on all the time.

"I'm really looking forward to it to be fair, we haven't played our own gig in Belfast in ages. Back in the day we played the Ulster Hall and that was really good.

"And I came over as a tourist before as well. I was there for a festival and came over with one of my mates - Ash was on - just as a punter, so I've spent time in the city."

Celebrating a quarter of a century since their peak, Ian believes those times were like "the last year of the album".

He said: "Oasis' first album came out that year, Supergrass, Radiohead - there were just loads of great albums came out that year.

"That was the last great stand of the album. The last time you wanted to put an album on start to finish, not just hear a few tracks, you know?

"It's just different now. I still think there's great stuff. I'm not one of those who thinks, 'It's not as good now' or whatever, I just think it was the end of a bit of a chapter."


Glory days: Ian Broudie will take to the stage at the Limelight

Glory days: Ian Broudie will take to the stage at the Limelight

Getty Images

Glory days: Ian Broudie will take to the stage at the Limelight

The Lightning Seeds were part of the wave of 'Cool Britannia' that swept the country with acts like Oasis and Blur and the era of New Labour and change across the country, including here with the Good Friday Agreement.

Ian reflected: "It was a positive time, it felt like everything was on the up and going the right way. For me it's done a little bit of a reverse since then, Brexit and all that stuff and a lot of the bigotry seems to be resurfacing a bit. So the Nineties felt like a moment when all that was going to be in the past before it re-emerged, so it feels like quite a halcyon time to me."

But anyone thinking that tomorrow night's show will simply be an indulgent trip down memory lane is in for a surprise.

Ian explained: "It's a funny thing when you think of doing something like this because you go, 'Well, there will be an obvious element of nostalgia in it', but I'm not really interested in doing just nostalgia.

"I feel like you want to keep moving forward and be creative and all that, so obviously you're playing an album that is a 25-year-old album, but I still feel I want to inject it with a new energy and a vibrancy.

"So I think the show when we play it, it's not like a cruise ship playing old songs, I think there's a vibrancy in the way we play it that makes it.

"We do two sets. We do the album in its entirety and then we have a 20 minute break and then we come back and play for another 50 minutes or so and we just play a lot of hits and all those tracks that everyone will know."

Ian said he "always knew that I was in music forever" and "wanted to have my cake and eat it" when it came to enjoying commercial success as well as earning the respect of critics.

"You want things to stand the test of time," he said, "but also in the work that you do, I think sometimes with musicians you can be torn one way or another - you know, do you want a good review or do you want your record on the radio?

"And I think you have to be strong and keep apart from that and realise you want both, really, do you know what I mean? And that's what I don't hear now, that's my only criticism of these times, that these two things are quite polarised.

"I mean, I've no idea what's been in the charts the past 10 years, I've got no idea what's number one, but I listen to a lot of music and I hear a lot of good music.

"But it seems like those two things are separate now and for me growing up I always wanted both those things."

One thing that has changed for the better personally for Ian, however, is playing to live audiences, something that took him years to find enjoyment from.

He said: "Yeah, I didn't use to. Back in the day it was so alien to me, I felt much more comfortable in the studio, but now I love that.

"And I also feel like being in the studio, what I used to love was that it was kind of a ritual - you'd go away and turn the tape machine on, get the mics and the compressors all going, musicians all sitting in a room, a gang of you altogether, quite a nice vibe, and then you make music.


From left, David Baddiel, Ian and Frank Skinner in their Three Lions days

From left, David Baddiel, Ian and Frank Skinner in their Three Lions days

From left, David Baddiel, Ian and Frank Skinner in their Three Lions days

"And that's not the way you make music anymore.

"Everyone who makes music now is now a computer operator, including me, so it's different, it's not as much fun.

"So I suppose from that point of view I prefer playing live and I definitely don't enjoy the process. I love writing the tunes and I love singing the tunes in the studio and I love when it's done but you spend so much time on a computer that it's almost like having a proper job."

The landscape may have changed somewhat in the music industry, but one constant for Ian is kicking back with a few beers after a show in true rock star fashion.

He said: "There's still drinks. I think the culture of drinking in bands is still very much there and it's different, but almost it's very ritualistic actually I think backstage.

"You do need to, you can't just go to bed, you can't just come off put the telly on and go to bed, so there is an element of party after the gig because there's probably 10 of you, the crew, you and you're all adrenalised and you can't help it, it's a bit of a party vibe."

While famous for a string of hits in their own right, there is one song that Ian Broudie and The Lightning Seeds will forever be associated with and which twice brought him UK Number Ones - England football anthem Three Lions with comedians Frank Skinner and David Baddiel.

Ironically, despite being his best known commercial success, it won't be in his Belfast set list as Ian believes it doesn't fit, but that doesn't mean he is not immensely proud of the track.

Ian, a Liverpool fan himself, said: "Yeah I'm proud of it as well because it broke the mould in those songs, because I don't think it's triumphalism, I don't think it's jingoistic.

"That was one of my reservations when we did it and really it was a song where the idea was to write what it feels like to be a fan and I think that's quite universal.

"And I quite like the fact that different clubs throughout the world and rugby and all sorts of people have adopted it really, because I think the sentiment is quite wide, it's just about believing.

"You'll Never Walk Alone is like that and I think that's why I thought I wanted to do it really because You'll Never Walk Alone, I know it's a Liverpool song, but for me even apart from that it's just a song about unity and community and I wanted to try and get a little bit of that into Three Lions and I kind of think that on some level it has, so I'm very proud of that."

The Lightning Seeds - Jollification 25th anniversary show - are at The Limelight, Belfast tomorrow at 7pm. Tickets are on sale from www.ticketmaster.ie, www.limelightbelfast.com and Ticketmaster outlets.

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