Shropshire’s Essential Entertainment Guide
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One of the country’s premier horticultural events, the annual Shrewsbury Flower Show delivers a diverse programme of attractions and entertainment for all the family to enjoy including T.V. personalities, celebrity chefs, singers and spectacular arena acts entertain the crowds for 12 hours on each day of the show, ending with a magnificent firework display.
Winner of Best Shropshire Event category in the What's On Readers' Awards, the show delivers a diverse programme of entertainment for the whole family to enjoy.
Highlights of the two-day event include guest spots from celebrity chefs and gardeners, arena acts, showjumping, workshops, a children's area, competitions and impressive floral displays.
Both days are brought to a close with a magnificent fireworks display.
£25, £23 conc (advance prices) Accompanied Children (15yrs & under) FREE
From pop and soul to doo-wop and crooning, there’s no denying the appeal of the UK’s ‘favourite’ five-piece vocal harmony group.
Lauren Foster caught up with the band’s Timmy Matley ahead of their mid-month Shrewsbury Flower Show gig...
You’re playing Shrewsbury Flower Show this month. What can your audience expect from your Saturday evening performance?
We’ll be there, looking sharp. The shoes are shined and everything’s ready. I’m looking forward to sitting down and sorting out the set list - we’re going to put a really strong set list together. We’re really looking forward to getting people on their feet - and for that time we’re on the stage, we want everyone to get up, forget all their cares and worries, and just enjoy themselves.
You were discovered by a Warner Bros talent scout in London while singing in your tea break...
It sounds a bit like a fairytale when you describe it like that, but that’s what it is really. We’d been together four years as a group. We set up this small painting & decorating company, just so we could get some cash-in-hand work, and basically got overheard singing. We were invited down to Warner Music, but it wasn’t just a ‘here’s a five-album deal’ type of thing. We got invited down and we got to sing for some of the guys there. Then they wanted to hear us on a record and see what we were like, so we recorded six songs - and that was like another audition round - and then, after that, we got offered the five-album deal. It was an absolute whirlwind, but it’s so lovely waking up every day and just doing a job that, ultimately, is the best job in the world. I’m getting paid to do something I love to do, and I think that’s all you can ask for in life.
How did you all originally meet?
We’re all from different parts of the UK, but we all moved to London to fulfil our dreams, whatever that meant. There’s so much going on in London in terms of music. I met the lads when we were on the auditioning circuit. Instead of auditioning for other groups, we decided to start our own. It was another four years before we got discovered, but you’ve got to put the work in.
There are five of you in the group. Do you generally have the same musical opinions when producing new material?
All of us are actually into different styles of music. The brilliant thing is that we all come together, and I think that formula works. These songs that we sing, they have a classic feel to them, but we like to give them the Overtones spin and make them feel a bit modern. The best way for us to get anything done is a show of hands - we always go with the majority. We’re grown men and it’s a lovely, natural way of working, which is great.
What’s your earliest musical memory?
I’d say when I first became aware that singing had emotion attached to it. My Auntie Janette, she’s a really lovely lady. When we were kids, you’ve got your traditional Irish songs and my Auntie Janette would get up and sing. She has a really good voice. I would say I was six or seven, and the first time I heard her sing - I still remember to this day - it actually made me cry. I look back now and realise I was crying because it just moved me. Whether music makes you laugh, cry, smile or dance, it’s always attached to emotions.
What do you do to prepare yourself pre-show?
I do a vocal warm-up before the sound check which will last around 15 minutes. I play it through my phone and the boys will join in. Your voice is an instrument and you have to really take care of it. I won’t be having a drink leading up to the show. I’d say the main bulk of getting ready for a show is making sure I’ve packed the right suit, shoes, tie or bowtie, and making sure I do a nice vocal warm-up.
What advice would you give to the young musicians of today who’re trying to get themselves heard?
We got signed seven years ago, but even how people are being discovered has gone into another realm since then. It was YouTube at the time. Since YouTube you’ve got people being discovered on Instagram and all sorts of networks. You’ve got to get your music out there and put yourself out to wider audiences, such as the internet. Also, being a good singer is one thing, but you’ve also got to be a good entertainer. If you think of any of those living legends - your Stevie Wonder, your Chaka Khan, Céline Dion - these people have had careers spanning decades because they’re entertainers as well as great singers. Getting out there in front of people is also important. There are some great open-mic nights around the country. Get out there, get that experience and get rid of those nerves. You can question yourself a lot when you’re starting out, but it’s a waste of time even listening to that. Throw yourself into it wholeheartedly and enjoy everything that you do.
Which artist has inspired you the most?
I went to see Stevie Wonder perform live three years ago and he was just incredible. He’s just a music legend. All his music brings people together, and he really believes in the power of that. I feel that because of his music, my world is a better place. Stevie Wonder, for me, is such an inspiration. He’s no spring chicken, but he can still sing it exactly how he did in his 20s.
What’s the strangest experience you’ve had in terms of your fans?
I feel like I could set up a Tunnock’s teacake afternoon with, like, 200 people! Basically, I tweeted that I really love Tunnock’s teacakes because they remind me of going round to my nan’s when I was a kid. Now, every time we’re on tour, the fans give me Tunnock’s teacakes. It’s so sweet, and I really do enjoy them. It’s really thoughtful. Sometimes, people are so excited to see you that they either clam up or they start crying, and it’s just the sweetest thing. We just give them a lovely hug.
You like to knit in your spare time. What’s your most impressive piece of work?
I love to knit! I really haven’t moved on from scarves, but I know how to do the little stringy things at the end. I haven’t advanced more than that, but I like to do it in the winter. It’s actually really therapeutic.
What’s been the highlight of your career?
Because I’m an Irishman living in the UK, and because I was very proud to be up there, it was when Gary Barlow asked us to do a 15-minute warm-up slot for the Diamond Jubilee concert. We got to experience that whole moment of being on that amazing stage. We weren’t televised, but we were there with something crazy like two million people at Buckingham Palace, and we felt very proud to be there. We got invited to the palace afterwards for a cocktail and it was lovely. Prince William and Kate were there, and they were just wandering around. Not only that, there was Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Jessie J, Ed Sheeran - and this was going back to when we first started. It was such a special day. I just remember feeling like I was walking on clouds and wondering how it had all actually happened.
Finally, what does the future hold for The Overtones?
Well listen, I’m a very, very keen gardener, and I’m really excited to be at the Shrewsbury Flower Show. I love my garden! I post shots of it on my Twitter account. I’ve got a little veggie patch, a little seating area and a lovely flowerbed. It’s all very manageable - and full of beautiful colours at the moment; so bright and vibrant. What does the future hold for The Overtones? We’ve got a really exciting announcement coming in the next few weeks. I know that’s being really vague, but we’re hoping, as always, to be releasing new music, to be on the road and to be enjoying what we do - it makes people really happy. You know, since I’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, I’m really, really taking care of my health. The plan is to be healthy and happy.
Interview by Lauren Foster
The Overtones play Shrewsbury Flower Show on Saturday 12 August.
Shrewsbury Flower Show takes place at the town’s Quarry Park on Friday 11 & Saturday 12 August.