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Henley Festival - Profile

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 27 / 5 / 2017

Henley Festival - Profile


Nick Dent-Robinson talks to Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys and Jess Glynne about their forthcoming appearance at this year's Henley Festival

Henley Festival 2017 promises to be another spectacular event with a high quality and diverse programme of music on the famous floating stage. There will be an array of other entertainments too. Performers this year include Chaka Khan, All Saints, The Pet Shop Boys with singer-songwriter Jess Glynne and Ronnie Scott's Allstars. Amongst the comedians appearing through the five days of the event will be Russell Kane, Seann Walsh, Andy Parsons and Sarah Pascoe. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe made The Pet Shop Boys one of the most successful duos in UK music history. Since 1985 they have achieved 42 Top Thirty singles including 22 Top Ten hits and four number ones. All of their 13 studio albums made the UK Top Ten and many were best sellers around the world. The pair received the Ivor Novello Award for their Outstanding Contribution to British Music in 2000 and as writers, producers and collaborators, Tennant and Lowe have worked with Liza Minnelli, Lady Gaga, Madonna, David Bowie, Yoko Ono, Girls Aloud plus Dusty Springfield whose well-tended grave, poignantly, is in Henley's churchyard, just across the river from the Henley Festival site. Neil Tennant says he always looks forward to visiting Henley. “It is a beautiful town and the setting for the festival is stunning,” he comments. Over the last 20 years Pet Shop Boys have created an original style of musical theatre and they have worked with a variety of designers, artists and directors to achieve this - including Derek Jarman, David Alden, Sam Taylor-Wood and David Fielding. “The aim is to provide a ravishing pop spectacular,” Neil Tennant says, adding that he hopes everybody seeing the Henley gig will find the experience truly memorable - for all the right reasons. Singer-songwriter Jess Glynne, 27, also looks forward to her appearance at Henley. Talking about her musical heroes she recalls that she outgrew her early diva favourites Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston the first time she heard the voice of Amy Winehouse. “For me - as for so many others -"Back to Black" just instantly opened up a kaleidoscopic new world of musical possibilities. It was more than just Amy's skill at harnessing truth through music. Somehow she gave a figurative and literal voice to girls like me...girls who didn't want to strip off, get skinny and all look the same just to get heard. I knew Amy was inspired by people I was inspired by and singing songs I'd love to sing. She was from North London, Jewish - I just could relate to her immediately. “I know I can never do what she did as well as her,” Jess admitted, “But I've made the decision to be as good as I can be at being myself. The three minute pop song is a structure I understand, it's almost like second nature to me now. Penning my debut album I Cry When I Laugh was more challenging and I found it more rewarding, too. I love live performance and I am really looking forward to appearing at Henley on 5th July.”

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Henley Festival - Profile

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