Bury St Edmunds: Roy Wood and co usher in Christmas at the apex

Roy Wood, at the apex, Bury St Edmunds, on December 9

Roy Wood, at the apex, Bury St Edmunds, on December 9 - Credit: Archant

“A bit of brain damage, but I’ll be alright one day,” laughs Wizzard’s Roy Wood when I ask how he’s doing.

Special guest Ben Poole

Special guest Ben Poole - Credit: Archant

He’s a bit preoccupied when I call, having been roped in last minute to perform with 50 youngsters at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall the next day.

“I’ve got to go into today and get my hair done, last minute job.”

Out of action for a while after back surgery last year, he’s looking forward to coming to the apex, Bury St Edmunds, tonight for the Roy Wood Rock and Roll Band 40th Anniversary Christmas Special.

“(There are) nine in the band, I don’t do things by halves,” Wood laughs, promising audiences all the hits including I Can Hear The Grass Grow, Flowers In The Rain, Blackberry Way and See My Baby Jive.

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“Oh yeah, it’s fun. You get a bit of everything and some new songs thrown in as well. The band are great, they all play with other bands and stuff; a couple play with Jamiroquai, the keyboard player used to play with Van Morrison... they’re all top class people, it’s gonna be a good ‘un.”

It wouldn’t be a Roy Wood gig without the Christmas chart-topper I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday. It wouldn’t be Christmas full-stop.

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“That’s nice,” he laughs. “They wouldn’t let me off the stage if I didn’t do that to be fair. It does go down well, you can’t deny that... over the years I’ve been performing you do get fed up with singing the same stuff, this is why I try to chuck a couple of new ones in every day and again, to brighten myself up a bit and the band.

“We do different versions of the hits anyway... it’s nice for the fans to hear a different version otherwise they might as well stay at home and just put the record on. The Christmas song is being released by the Big Reunion this year as a charity single so I’m well pleased about that.”

Wood’s been busy writing songs in the style of his current band rather than what’s come before; taking advantage of his “really good jazzers” to get audiences on their feet dancing to what he describes as rock and rolly type songs with a jazz feel.

“It works alright. I’m mainly a writer more than performer I’d have thought. I’ve always wanted to write something that sounds like an old standard, that could’ve been recorded by Tony Bennett or somebody.

“I’ve done one of those that’s turned out really well and I’m hoping when Michael Buble comes over next year I can maybe get it to him.”

Called Get Ready to Shout When the Lights Go Out, it’s a big band swing thing. He’s just written another, Get on the Train and Don’t Come Back, which they sadly haven’t had time to get into the set before the Christmas gigs.

“I’ve got to the point now where I’m thinking I’m probably old enough to be my own boss, why should I just sing what other people think I should, I might as well sing stuff I really enjoy doing,” says Wood.

A former member of The Move and The Electric Light Orchestra, not to mention Wizzard, I’d say he’s earnt that right.

“It’s been (a) pretty good (career) really,” he laughs. “I can’t grumble. It was hard work but there’s always a certain amount of luck in there as well; you’ve got to be in the right place at the right time and we were. I can’t really sum my career up, that’s for other people to do, it’s difficult to stand back and judge yourself...”

A pioneer in the progressive rock, pop rock, jazz fusion, symphonic rock, art rock, pop and glam rock genres, Wood says as a writer you’re always influenced by what’s going on around you either in the charts, this, that and the other if you want to try to get a hit record.

“I’ve always had my own agenda really, you set yourself a standard then you try to live by that as much as possible.

“It’s a lot more difficult now, to be fair. From a writer’s point of view you always have to cross-examine yourself, you’re always thinking ‘well it’s already been done...’. You really have to dig deep to make sure you’re not ripping anybody else off, it’s quite difficult because there’s only so many notes in a scale and you don’t really want to be copying somebody else.”

Himself included?

“It’s alright ripping yourself off,” he laughs, “if there’s a little bit in there that sounds a bit like you that’s fine.”

Wood and co will be joined by special guests The Ben Poole Band. Its 25-year-old frontman has recently been described as the most exciting young blues guitarist to come out of the UK for a long time.

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