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Features / Mareel gets ready for Ryder’s nineties nostalgia

Black Grape's rapper Kermit and singer Shaun Ryder.

A FAMOUS face will visit Shetland this weekend as legendary Manchester hellraiser Shaun Ryder performs in the isles with his reformed group Black Grape.

The singer will play Mareel in Lerwick on Saturday night as part of a wider UK tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of the group’s debut album ‘It’s Great When You’re Straight…Yeah’.

Saturday’s gig will provide some solace to fans of Ryder’s other group the Happy Mondays after they cancelled a gig in the same venue in 2012.

The vocalist will team up once again with rapper Kermit to honour Black Grape’s maiden record, which reached No.1 in the UK in the mid 1990s.

However, Ryder admits that he wasn’t even aware of the album’s anniversary until someone above told him.

“It was a person at the record or publishing company that reminded me that it was 20 years,” he told Shetland News. “Kermit has been getting better and better – right now he’s at a great point – so we thought we’d do something. The chemistry is still there between us.”

The singer, who confirmed that Black Grape will be performing new music on their UK tour, added that his memories of the album’s recording process is decidedly hazy.

The band are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their UK number one album 'It's Great When You're Straight... Yeah'

“I was seven when the 60s ended, but I can remember that decade better than the 90s,” he laughed. “We went over to the States and it was good because everyone thought we was going to crash and burn. It was a bit mad there in the States. And then we had a number one album. But it all ended in disaster.”

The singer cited “egos” as the reason why Black Grape called it quits after two records in 1998. “Now, we’re compos mentis, and we’re just enjoying it. But twenty years ago we were off our tits, living a different life than we do now. A lot of egos. And there was a lot to do with drugs and booze.”

Does Ryder, who was infamously linked with drug use, have any regrets?

“No,” he resolutely replied. “The dream goes really quick – it’s like waking up. There’s not much I regret. I had a great time, travelling the world and getting off my tits when I was young. But I’ve stopped it just at the right time.”

And it seems the singer isn’t quite as invincible as he was in the 1990s, revealing that he has to take thyroid and testosterone medicine to stop his life from slipping into severe danger.

“I have no thyroid, and if you don’t take the thyroid tablets, you go into a coma and die. Part of the condition is that I don’t have testosterone, so I always have to have take injections otherwise I wouldn’t be able to walk about. I wouldn’t have any energy.”

Does that scare him? “Age comes with all sorts of shit, and that’s hereditary,” he said. “Other members of my family have the thyroid condition. It’s just part of getting older – shit goes wrong. Age doesn’t come on its own.”

Ryder, meanwhile, also expressed an interest to return to ITV’s ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!’

The singer finished runner-up on the reality TV show in 2010 – but he admits he initially hated the idea of appearing on the show, suggesting that record label pressure got the better of him.

“The show will probably end at some point, and if they ever do a winners and runners-up show, and they asked me to go back, I probably would,” he said. “It’s something that I was kicking and screaming about doing. I wasn’t really wanting to do it, but I was so glad that I did.

“I’ve just come back from the jungle again actually – I’ve been in Amazon jungle with a tribe of indigenous natives, who were all drummers and percussion players. We made some music with them, and when that comes out on telly in September on the channel Watch, you can download the track. It was a great experience.”

  • Support for the Black Grape gig will come from Scottish singer-songwriter Marc Culley, Shetland act Dig Deep and local DJs. Tickets are on sale now via Shetland Box Office.