Vocal trio Blake launched into the New Year on the back of a happy Christmas collaboration with Dame Shirley Bassey – with the promise of more to come.
In the meantime, they play The Capitol in Horsham on April 1 (01403 750220) and White Rock Theatre in Hastings on April 9 (01424 462288).
“It was an amazing experience,” says Humphrey Berney. “We had met Dame Shirley for her 70th birthday, and then we bumped into her last year because we are both ambassadors for the Variety Club. We had a chat with her, and she asked us what we were doing. We said we were recording our Christmas album even though it was the middle of summer! Ollie asked if she would like to come and work with us. It was as simple as that.
“It was an interesting time for Dame Shirley. In many ways she felt her career had stopped, certainly live performances. She had done an album the year before and had loved the experience. And it just really worked us singing together. In hindsight, having spoken to her, she had never worked with a group before. She had done duets before, but this was something different, and she found it really exciting.
“Any collaboration is a stab in the dark, but our voices seemed to work really well together. And the great thing is we will be working together again in July. We have got the Saturday night at the Henley Festival. It’s really exciting.”
It’s also strange the way Blake, for years a foursome, became a threesome with the departure of Jules three years ago – and then became a foursome once again with Dame Shirley.
“That’s what makes being three of us so exciting. It is so much easier to do something like this. Definitely. Three is much better. There are certain bits of being a four you miss, particularly the vocal harmony element, but speaking to the fans who have known us as four and then as three, they like the fact that as three we come across much more as individuals rather than a big body of men singing. When there are three of you, your personalities can come across much more. The fans don’t just want a big singing machine. They want to know your characters more, and that’s really lovely that we can do that now.
“It was a great shock when we became a three. Jules went off to be an actor. He handed in his notice with Blake with two weeks to go because of the situation he was he when he was offered a job. We were pretty terrified when we first became a three, but we pretty quickly realised it could really work for us.”