Award-winning rapper and local lad Aitch has launched a brand new travel scheme for young people.
The Aitch-S2 is an initiative providing hundreds of people with the opportunity to enjoy a ‘summer without limits’ – giving them the chance to travel the country and experience various cultural events.
Created in partnership with Relentless energy drink, the new Aitch-S2 will run for eight weeks offering under 25s free train tickets to UK festivals, gigs and nightlife between July and August.
Aitch is passionate about supporting regional scenes, talents and cultures, and under the new alternative travel scheme young people will have the chance to apply for funding to cover rail travel costs to events in different cities.
The aim of this is to help rebalance cultural accessibility outside of the M25 and spotlight new and exciting music scenes across the UK.
The rising cost of transport and living is set to make travelling to events difficult, with the initiative hoping to make a difference by removing some of the financial barriers that might restrict people from making the most of the first summer since the lifting of restrictions.
The Aitch-S2 travel scheme will run for eight weeks from July 5th to August 26th, and under 25s from anywhere in the UK will be eligible to apply for free travel across the national rail network – with travel vouchers worth up to £100 allocated on a weekly basis.
Speaking on his involvement in the Relentless Aitch-S2 scheme, Aitch says: “I’m really excited to launch The Aitch-S2 with Relentless – there’s so much amazing culture around the UK, but for young people to experience it, they need to break out of their city limits, which is hard to do when it’s so expensive to travel outside your hometown.
“I don’t want anyone missing out on what is going to be a summer to remember, so this initiative will help young Brits get back out there and have fun, no matter the location.”
Head over to the website, here, to find out more about the scheme.
Wigan Casino to celebrate 50th anniversary with Northern Soul all-nighter
The rarest Northern Soul record was recently sold for £100k
The legendary Wigan Casino will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special Northern Soul all-nighter after its last song, Frank Wilson’s ‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do), played in 1981 and it shut its doors for good.
The all-nighter will play on BBC Radio 6 Music, featuring all the – often B-side – bangers discovered in Motown vaults from the likes of The Supremes, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, Dobie Gray, Yvonne Baker, and many more.
From its opening in 1973, Wigan Casino saw crowds of music lovers desperate to dance the night away to all of the latest vinyl records, getting dropped off by the coach load outside the venue – the former Empress Ballroom.
Several DJs including Russ Winstanley, Ian Fishwick, Kev Roberts and Richard Searling would take turns in spinning the decks for clubbers who would queue for hours just to get a taste of the action in the main dance hall.
Wigan Casino’s very last all-nighter was played on December 6th 1981 from midnight to the early morning, played by DJ Russ Winstanley.
Now, 50 years after the legendary night began, a special edition of Northern Soul programming dedicated to Wigan Casino will kick off on Saturday September 9th until 8pm on Sunday September 10th, on BBC Radio 6 Music.
The tracks will be played across The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show alongside a broadcast of Stuart Maconie’s Northern Soul Prom, which was recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in July.
Kicking off the programme on Saturday, from 6pm to 9pm, Craig’s show will feature a ten-piece soul house band – The Signatures – and special guests including Wigan Casino DJ Richard Searling and R&B group The Flirtations.
Craig will also be going in search of the rarest Northern Soul record, which was recently sold for £100,000 – can you guess which one it was?
Then, from 9pm-12am, Craig will join Stuart to introduce a broadcast of the Northern Soul Prom – recorded with the BBC Concert Orchestra.
It features Brendan Reilly, Darrell Smith, Frida Mariama Touray, Natalie Palmer, Nick Shirm and Vula Malinga as they perform the likes of You’re Gonna Make Me Love You, Open the Door to Your Heart and Hold Back The Night.
Stuart Maconie says: “Northern Soul was and is one of the most thrilling and vital music subcultures ever.
“It’s a dynamic, sympathetic union of the sounds and dreams of generations in the industrial heartlands of the North and Midlands of the UK and their counterparts in New York, Detroit, Philadelphia and beyond.
“At the heart of the scene is this wonderful, dramatic, vibrant and inspirational music, as well as the passion and knowledge of its devotees.
“They brought the communal rapture of the Northern Soul clubs and dancehalls to the Royal Albert Hall, which was on its feet on every tier for the Prom. It was a night the like of which that grand and esteemed old building has never seen before.”
From 12am-4am, 6 Music begins an audio tour of the UK’s iconic all-nighter venues, with hour-long playlists by DJs who were there at Golden Torch (12am-1am), Wigan Casino (1am-2am), Twisted Wheel (2am-3am) and 100 Club (3am-4am).
These key figures from the scene share stories and songs, taking listeners back to the dance floors of these legendary spaces.
From 4am-7am, 6 Music’s Morning After Mix, Northern Soul Special, brings listeners a playlist of mellow soul numbers, featuring classic ballads and as well as contemporary selections.
Stuart returns to the airwaves an hour earlier than usual at 7am on Sunday morning (September 10th) to present Lights On With Stuart Maconie.
He’ll bring the party to a close and bring listeners the original versions of Wigan Casino’s famous Three Before Eight – Time Will Pass You By by Tobi Legend, Long After Tonight Is All Over by Jimmy Radcliffe and I’m On My Way by Dean Parrish.
The Wigan Casino 50th anniversary special on BBC Radio 6 Music can be listened to via BBC Sounds from 6pm on September 9th – 8pm on September 10th. You can also tune in via DAB Digital Radio, Freeview, Sky TV, and supported mobile devices.
S Club get ready to kick start huge reunion tour right here in Manchester
The tour kicks off in Manchester on October 12th, with a second Manchester date on the 21st
As fans across the UK get ready to see their all-time favourites S Club reunite for a tour kicking off in Manchester, we chat with Jo O’Meara about what it’s like to be back.
It’s been what feels like a lifetime since S Club (then known as S Club 7) were blasting through the radio waves, with young kids and teeny boppers copying their dance moves and learning all their lyrics.
After two decades away, Bradley, Jo, Jon, Rachel and Tina are now ready to take the stage together and bring absolutely all of it back to you.
On what it’s like to be back, Jo tells us: “Oh, do you know what, it’s been lovely, It’s been so nice to be back together. It’s always nice to get back with S Club.”
The group formed in 1998 under former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller and took the world by storm.
Jo says it was Fuller’s idea to go on tour again, and upon hearing it she said it was a ‘no-brainer’ for her and an immediate ‘yes’.
She explained: “He got in touch with us because obviously it was our 25th anniversary, and he said, ‘how do you guys feel about celebrating it and doing a tour?’
“We just all went, ‘absolutely’, and it was kind of a no-brainer. So yeah, we’re just so excited.”
The Good Times Tour marks 25 years since the band first formed and is a tribute to late band member Paul Cattermole by taking the name of an S Club song – a big fan favourite – on which he sang lead vocals.
Over the years the band have kept in touch ‘loosely’, communicating by text. It’s no surprise, as for a number of years they spent most days together, intensely, as bandmates, friends and even as a kind of family.
The band have also been through a lot together, and although they’ve got their own lives separate from S Club, there’ll likely always be times they will keep in touch with each other.
Jo continues: “I think we all kind of drift in and out of each other’s lives whether we’re together or we’re not together because we’ve all been such a big part of each other’s lives for so many years now. It’s just a very natural thing to do.”
On meeting up as a group again, Jo says it feels ‘just like yesterday’. She goes on: “No time passes, it’s really, really bizarre. We might not see each other for five, or eight, or 10 years even and the second we’re all in the same room it’s like we never left.”
Collectively, S Club amassed four UK number one singles with ‘Bring It All Back’, ‘Never Had a Dream Come True’, ‘Don’t Stop Movin’, and ‘Have You Ever’, as well as the UK number one album ‘7’.
They recorded four studio albums, released 11 singles that all entered the Top Five UK charts, and went on to sell over 10 million albums worldwide.
With four multi-platinum selling albums, two BRIT Awards, and nine number-one international hit singles to their name, S Club is a household name that is once again ready to rise.
The pop group have also released a new single called These Are The Days written by the band’s original number one hit songwriting team of Cathy Dennis, Simon Ellis, Johanne Ellis and producer John Nathaniel.
The track pays tribute to their former friend and beloved S Club member Paul with a moving film story that ends with S Club revealed as the five-piece pop act that they are today.
About their comeback single, Jo said: “These Are The Days was actually a song that was written for us about 20 years ago, but it wasn’t the right song for us back then.
“But the song came around this time and it was just the perfect song.”
“Cathy Dennis got involved and changed some of the lyrics and it’s a nod to the past and it’s a nod to where we’ve been and obviously, it’s a tribute for Paul but in a really positive and upbeat way because I think that’s what S Club has always represented; positivity and making people smile,” she continued.
“I don’t think we could have picked a better song to come back with as our first single.”
About touring in Manchester, Jo said she is hoping for some time off in the city so she can go shopping – but she’s also looking forward to performing for a Mancunian audience.
“I think what I love about Manchester is that it is very loud. Everyone’s up for a good time and out to let their hair down, get dressed up and go and have fun,” she added.
On her best memories of S Club, Jo recalls: “The Brit Awards will always be a big one. For me personally, it was when we did the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. We got to perform Don’t Stop Movin on stage.
“I think we had like Phil Collins, we had Brian May playing the guitar – I was just looking around at these absolutely massive icons. I’m also a big fan of the Beach Boys.”
About the future of S Club and what they have in store, Jo added that ‘the sky’s the limit’ and the band will ‘see what the fans want’, but she said, ‘there’s definitely going to be more music’.
With The Good Times Tour now just around the corner, Jo said she’s nervous but excited to be back on stage with S Club, doing their thing again, adding: “It’s all becoming very real all of a sudden. Because, I feel like we’ve talked about it for so long and now it’s like, just a matter of weeks away.”
You can grab your tickets for the tour HERE.
S Club: The Good Times Tour UK 2023 dates are:
Oct 12th Manchester AO Arena
Oct 13th Liverpool M&S Bank Arena
Oct 14th Sheffield Utilita Arena
1Oct 16th Dublin 3Arena
Oct 18th Glasgow OVO Hydro
Oct 19th Newcastle Utilita Arena
Oct 20th Leeds First Direct Arena
Oct 21st Manchester AO Arena
Oct 23rd Cardiff International Arena
Oct 24th Nottingham Motorpoint Arena
Oct 26th Birmingham Utilita Arena Birmingham
Oct 27th London The O2
Oct 28th London The O2 Matinee
Oct 28th London The O2
Oct 29th Birmingham Utilita Arena Birmingham
The Streets announce first album since 2011 and huge Manchester show
The streets are coming to Manchester this year
UK garage and hip-hop band The Streets are back with a new album after more than a decade away, as well as a huge gig in Manchester.
Frontman Mike Skinner has announced his first full length album since Computers and Blues in 2011. The Streets’ new album is called The Darker The Shadow, The Brighter The Light and is due to be released this autumn.
Alongside the album, the rapper will be releasing a feature film of the same name to be released on 679 Recordings/Warner Music UK Ltd on October 20th.
The group have announced a massive UK tour kicking off in Nottingham on October 26th before heading to Manchester’s O2 Victoria Warehouse on October 27th.
About the record, Mike Skinner of The Streets said: “It has been seven long years working on this film and album. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and after dipping my toe in with some shorts and music videos, I felt I was ready.
“I tried to go the traditional route for a bit, but it’s always served me better to follow my instincts and just get on with it myself, so I’ve directed it, acted in it, edited, sound mixed, funded, produced it all as well as written it. The album doesn’t exist without it.
“Ultimately it’s all the fruits of a decade on the DJ circuit, watching people in clubs and back rooms, testing out beats and basslines to see what connected – and putting it all together into The Darker The Shadow The Brighter The Light.”
The Darker The Shadow, The Brighter The Light promises to have a classic Streets sound, echoing past records including Original Pirate Material and A Grand Don’t Come for Free filled with Skinner’s signature lyrical wizardry.
All songs are written by Skinner but will feature vocal contributions from the likes of Kevin Mark Trail and Robert Harvey, as well as a track featuring Teef.
The feature film will be a tripped-out murder mystery based in London’s clubland, to be screened at Everyman Cinemas across the UK.
The Streets UK Tour Dates are:
26th Oct – Nottingham @ Rock City
27th Oct – Manchester @ O2 Victoria Warehouse
28th Oct – Sheffield @ O2 Academy
2nd Nov – Glasgow @ O2 Academy
3rd Nov – Newcastle @ O2 City Hall
4th Nov – Leeds @ O2 Academy
9th Nov – Liverpool @ The Mountford Hall
10th Nov – Birmingham @ O2 Academy
13th Nov – Norwich @ The Nick Rayns LCR
14th Nov – Bournemouth @ O2 Academy
16th Nov – London @ Alexandra Palace
For anyone who pre-orders the new Streets album, they will receive access to the UK tour pre-sale.
The Darker The Shadow, The Brighter The Light is due for release on October 20th.