Blues greats Nine Below Zero ready for Wirral return

Wirral Globe: Nine Below Zero on stage Nine Below Zero on stage

BRITISH rhythm and blues greats Nine Below Zero return to Wirral later this month as part of their current tour.

The band - who had an almost obsessive following in the 1980s - will be on stage at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton on Saturday, February 15.

Joining founders Dennis Greaves and Mark Feltham for the tour is world-renowned boogie woogie piano player Ben Waters, who has played with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Looking forward to the Floral Pavilion show, guitarist Dennis Greaves told the Globe this afternoon: "It's going to a great night of Boogie Woogie, featuring us and a truly great piano player.

"We've been to the Floral Pavilion before, it's a great venue and we can't wait to get back there."

Formed in 1979, the band built up a legion of fans in the 1980s with their take on American blues, while maintaining the energy of punk in their live performances.

This spirit was captured in their first album, Live At The Marquee.

They performed their single 11+11 on the first episode of Ben Elton's cult BBC TV comedy The Young Ones, were featured in a South Bank Show special and supported both The Who and The Kinks.

They split up and Dennis went on to form The Truth, who enjoyed two UK top 20 hits.

In 1990, Nine Below reformed for their 10th anniversary and sold out the Town and Country (now the Forum) in London.

More than 35 years after forming, the band are busier than ever.

They have just released a digital only best of, A to Zed and Universal are reissuing two of the band's A&M albums, Don't Point Your Finger and Third Degree.

Both will be double CD releases, with a live performance and unreleased tracks.

They are also about to support The Stranglers on their 40th anniversary tour.

On the band's following and success, Dennis continued: "It was just amazing. I left school, formed the band and got signed to A&M Records. The rest is history.

"In the early days, word just got around about us, this was all before social media.

"We were in the generation of bands like Dr Feelgood and the last wave of bands in that era.

“But there’s been a re-birth of bands like this, with bands like The Stripes carrying on.

"It’s great to see the fans still had the appetite for what we were doing."

Regarded as one of the leading harmonica players in the UK, Mark Feltham has appeared on albums by Oasis, Robbie Williams, Johnny Cash, Texas and Joan Armatrading.

His work also featured on movie soundtracks, including Tootsie, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Notting Hill.

Unlike many bands who reform and just play their back catalogue, Nine Below Zero have continually gone back into the studio to record new material.

Their last studio album, Never Too Late, released in 2011 gained wide critical acclaim and an album of new material will be released later this year.

Ben Waters earned his reputation as an internationally acclaimed musician the hard way.

Years of playing the circuit to the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall where he and his band were selected by Ray Davies as one of his 12 favourite bands to perform at his Meltdown Festival.

Last year he recorded the album Boogie4Stu, and was joined by all the Rolling Stones, PJ Harvey and Jools Holland - who loaned his studio - in aid of the British Heart Foundation in memory of The Stones' pianist Ian Stewart.

Dennis Greaves said: "Ben brings a huge extra dimension to the band, and it's great for me to allow him to take the lead at times and for me to play over and around him. I think our fans will be delighted with just how deep and rich the sound is."

Looking forward to touring with The Stranglers, Dennis said: “It’s going to be great playing with them, a busman’s holiday.”

Tickets for Nine Below Zero's Floral Pavilion show, which starts at 8pm, are from www.floralpavilion.com or the box office on 0151 666 0000.

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