What an entertaining year

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It’s been a year to savour for Morecambe and Lancaster entertainment. Over the next three pages GREG LAMBERT picks out some of his own personal highlights

JANUARY

Morecambe and Wise were among the all-time great entertainers celebrated in a new exhibition at Lancaster University.

Homeless people in Morecambe and Lancaster who were interviewed about life on the streets and how music inspired them, appeared on Lancaster community radio station Diversity FM.

Primary class children took their very first steps onto the stage as part of Alysia Gilda’s Dance Crazy show at the Grand Theatre.

Martin Webster took over the baton as new conductor of Carnforth and District Choral Society.

Popular singer Elkie Brooks was in concert at the Grand.

Kooky Lancaster duo The Lovely Eggs were picked as ‘One to Watch’ for 2012 by Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens.

And the Promenade Concert Orchestra returned for a new season of light music outings at the Platform.

FEBRUARY

Charlene Soraia, who had a number one hit with Wherever You Will Go, performed at Lancaster Library.

Ex-Morecambe High School pupil and jazz, blues and swing singer Bexi Owen, came home to sing at a vintage fair at the Royal Kings Arms hotel in Lancaster.

Pacemakers legend Gerry Marsden sadly had to call off a visit to the Platform due to ill-health.

The Haffner Orchestra returned to The Great Hall and gifted Morecambe musician Josh Bolan released a gripping debut music video for his song Missiles, shot on Morecambe beach on a bleak day.

MARCH

A 10-hour all-singing all-dancing marathon came to the Arndale Centre at the launch of the Morecambe Youth Forum - headlined by a song co-written by Morecambe MP David Morris and sung beautifully by Morecambe Community High School pupil Molly Wilson.

Jools Holland’s favourite singer Ruby Turner made a regular stop-off at the Platform.

Morecambe cheeky chappie Lee Watson was enjoying a successful new career as a trance music DJ as one half of Delta 3, a DJ duo signed to a leading Amsterdam dance music label.

A tour of the famous Corrie cobbles by Morecambe’s Coronation Street star Cherylee Houston was one of the prizes in an auction of promises at Lancaster’s Dukes Theatre.

Classic musical Hello Dolly! by the Lancaster Red Rose Amateurs regaled the Lancaster Grand.

A quirky play about the town called Captain Murderer and the Morecambe Mermaid went out on a national tour. And it was the end of two eras, as both Diversity FM radio in Lancaster and The Carleton nightclub in Morecambe closed their doors.

APRIL

Comedy star John Bishop turned up out of the blue for a 15-minute unannounced ‘turn’ at Lancaster’s weekly laughter night at The Borough.

Morecambe pop group Idol Minds got to support one of the country’s biggest boy bands McFly at Preston Guild Hall.

The debut of a Jools Holland-style live music night at The Platform only with local talent like The Reggie Mental Band and Blackheart Afterglow proved a smash hit.

Accurate Beatles tribute group The Cavern Beatles took Grand Theatre fans on a magical mystery tour of the Fab Four’s greatest hits.

The town’s champion wrestler Johnny Phere mixed with EastEnders stars Tony Discipline (Tyler Moon) and Jacqueline Jossa (Lauren Branning) at a big grapple event in London.

An energy worker in the Middle East, originally from Bare, brought out a children’s book about super-powered crisp packets taking over the world. Michael Diack’s quirky book is called The Super Spud Trilogy.

MAY

Morecambe’s festivals season kicked off with Steve Middlesbrough’s three-day Bank Holiday pop shebang Morecambe Live - starring tributes to The Saturdays and Katy Perry.

Old-style glamour came to the Winter Gardens theatre for two days and nights at the first ever Morecambe Variety Festival.

The Kite Festival moved to a blustery Sunday in May and the North Lancs Soul Festival returned to Smokey’s and the Platform, starring Clem Curtis and The Foundations.

Meanwhile The Heartbreaks released their debut album; a 10-track joyride of summery pop tunes called Funtimes...and it was chicken soup for the ears.

The town’s indie heroes also scooped The Visitor’s Sunshine Ambassador Award while the Entertainment Award went to veteran dance teacher, choreographer and theatre director Joyce Warrington MBE.

Popular writer, radio and TV personality Stuart Maconie held An Audience With...at the Dukes.

One of Morecambe’s busiest pubs Ma Murphy’s sadly shut down, leaving behind an eight-year legacy as a fabulous live music venue and meeting place where many a Guinness was sunk.

I spoke to singer Joe Longthorne about his chequered life ahead of his show at the Grand Theatre.

Leading playwright Jim Cartwright popped in to the Dukes to work with the theatre’s Young Actors Company.

JUNE

The sun finally shone on the annual Sandcastle Festival while Sabbat at The Dukes, a play to mark the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witch Trials, was an altogether darker affair.

Nice ‘n’ Sleazy did it for punk music fans once again as the colourful festival rocked the Trimpell Club, while the Country Kickback event had everyone line dancing at the Platform.

One of the nation’s best-loved comedians, Michael McIntyre, played two warm-up gigs at the Lancaster Grand. So did rising comic star Kevin Bridges.

Morecambe Amateurs’ version of The Sound of Music definitely had the von Trappings of success at the Grand.

Lancaster folk band Ottersgear celebrated the release of their new single while local bands The Lovely Eggs, The Art Club and Bleach appeared on the same bill at the Yorkshire House.

And a new Thursday night comedy club trod the boards at the Platform.

JULY

The Lancaster and Morecambe Newspapers Motor Show was one of my personal highlights of the year, as I got to entertain crowds on the promenade with my good buddy, the Mayor of Bare, DJ Cameron Seddon.

That’s the way to do it! A Punch and Judy festival in Morecambe marked 350 years of Mr Punch and a fun nContinues – Page 20

n From Page 19

weekend brought music

and mirth to the Festival Market.

Other festivals this month included those in the West End and Poulton village, and the ever jiving Tutti Frutti 1950s gathering.

The Heartbreaks took Japan by storm, playing to 6,000 screaming fans at the Far East country’s biggest music festival Fuji Rocks.

Comedy band The Lancashire Hotpots sold out the Dukes, Batman film finale The Dark Knight Rises was a triumph at the cinema, and John Denver tribute act Chris Bannister filled up our senses at Bare Village Club.

The Queens pub in Morecambe launched a series of ‘Band and Buffet’ Sunday afternoon gigs.

Morecambe-based The Rushley Singers were invited to sing at the Promenade Concerts at the Royal Albert Hall.

TV personality Paul Hayes and his rock ‘n’ roll band The Collection played their biggest local gig to date at the Grand Theatre alongside rock greats including Elvis Presley’s former guitarist James Burton.

Morecambe author Steven Robinson had his debut novel shortlisted for the £10,000 Kidwelly eBook Award.

And after nine years of grunt and groan, I promoted my final live wrestling show (for now) as Lancaster and Morecambe College’s Hexagon theatre closed for refurbishment. After seeing my other wrestle venues The Dome and The Carleton close too, I’m clearly cursed...

AUGUST

Events to mark the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witch Trials continued in the city.

Meanwhile TV comic Junior Simpson dropped in at the Lancaster Comedy Club while The Heartbreaks played a triumphant homecoming gig at Smokey’s.

This year’s Beach Bash pop music festival saw tribute sets from the ‘60s through to the ‘80s at the Platform.

Although the Williamson Park promenade play took a break this year, outdoor theatre still abounded in the leafy setting through The Railway Children, The Twits and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

SEPTEMBER

Actor Paul Duckworth’s one-man show at The Platform ‘Beating Berlusconi’ was a tour de force for this Liverpool football fan.

The divine Miss M, Minogue that is, was at the Platform...or at least the closest thing to her, thanks to Cat Edwards’ Kylie tribute show.

Cool four-piece The Art Club released their debut single Let’s Start Again, featuring a jaw-dropping music video.

The Red Arrows and the Seaside Festival drew the biggest crowd to Morecambe promenade not just of the year, but in a decade to Morecambe promenade on a balmy Sunday afternoon for the Seaside Festival.

Lancaster and District Choral Society began preparation for its 175th anniversary season and Bobby Roberts’ Super Circus rolled up at Lancaster Leisure Park.

OCTOBER

Two hundred gigs, over 100 bands and more than 30 venues. It could only be the annual Lancaster Music Festival and it was great fun.

This month, I was privileged to speak to the great Lenny Henry ahead of his stand-up show at the Grand. Other famous faces at the Lancaster theatre included Chelsee Healey (Waterloo Road, Strictly Come Dancing), Clare Buckfield (Dancing On Ice, 2.4 Children) and Vicky Entwhistle (Janice Battersby in Corrie) in The Vagina Monologues.

Ralph McTell brought his An English Heartbeat show to Morecambe’s Platform while Bond was back at the cinema with Skyfall.

Oh what a beautiful evening was had when Oklahoma! became the latest musical effort from the Morecambe Warblers. The Paul Hayes Collection went out on tour supporting ex-Bay City Roller Eric Faulkner.

Lancaster’s new Arts City collective launched their ‘First Friday’ initiative with a night of music and dance in Market Square and the Dukes.

Poet John Hegley headlined the Litfest literature festival in the city.

Two of the area’s best young bands, The Feud and Idol Minds, topped the bill at the Platform’s second ‘Later with Jools Netherland’ night.

And we were afraid, very afraid as Morecambe’s most monstrous festival Zombieville invaded the town.

NOVEMBER

Marlene! Boycie held court at the Platform as Only Fools and Horses actor John Challis came to town.

Former farmer Richard Mason from Heysham published his first novel Branthwaite’s Lot.

The month exploded into action with Lancaster’s annual Firework Spectacular, for the first time from the top of Lancaster Castle.

Aussie comic Steve Hughes brought some ‘Big Issues’ to the Platform while The Heartbreaks played their first ever gig at Morecambe Football Club.

Comedy stars dominated the Grand Theatre stage including Al Murray and Julian Clary, while Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde star Georgie Fame was on at the Platform, and ex-Idlewild front man Roddy Woomble sang at The Hothouse in the West End.

Events continued in Lancaster marking the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens. An Oasis tribute band were mad for it at Nowhere bar in Morecambe while crooner Mark McKenna brought out a CD covering classic tunes in a big band style.

DECEMBER

As venues prepared for various Christmas events and celebrations, the West End of Morecambe was swathed in light thanks to the annual Lantern Festival and Treasure Island was a booty-ful family show at the Dukes.

Dizzy Hack and the Rhino Horns brought the big band sound back to the Platform and Pinocchio was given a hip-hop style makeover at Lancaster University’s Nuffield Theatre.

And The Heartbreaks rounded off 2012 with gigs in Osaka and Tokyo.