Original Artists from M People, Groove Armada, Livin’ Joy and more to join Orchestra of Opera North for the Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics

28th March 2019

The Voice of M People Heather Small, Groove Armada’s MC M.A.D. and Andy Cato, Livin’ Joy legend Janice Robinson and Happy Mondays vocalist Rowetta are among the special guest artists announced for the third year of The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics in Millennium Square, Leeds on Saturday 27 July.

The epic open-air club night will reunite Leeds’ own ‘Purveyor of Good Times’ Dave Beer with the Orchestra of Opera North for another set of dance anthems specially expanded and rearranged for the 60-piece ensemble, with vocals from the original artists.

Hand-picked from Heather Small’s incredible run of hits with M People, How Can I Love You More?, One Night in Heaven and Moving on Up will be treated to new arrangements, putting a unique symphonic spin on their trademark blend of house, classic soul and R&B.

Heather Small comments:
“We celebrated the 25th anniversary of these songs last year, and people still want to hear them and sing along – and performing them still brings me so much joy. It’s that connection with the band and the audience that’s always so emotional for me, so taking the stage at Millennium Square to perform these amazing new arrangements with the full Orchestra of Opera North is going to be unforgettable!

One of the highlights of the first Symphonic Sounds event, Groove Armada vocalist MC M.A.D. will be joined by founder member Andy Cato to perform their Grammy-nominated big beat/house/dancehall crossover, Superstylin’ and massive sleeper hit I See You Baby. Andy grew up near Pontefract and played trombone in the Grimethorpe Colliery Band in his teens, and his brass chops can be heard in the trombone solo on Groove Armada’s At the River. The chillout classic will also get an orchestral overhaul for the Back to Basics show, which will be something of a homecoming for Andy, who now makes his living as an organic farmer in France.

‘”It all began for me in Leeds”, Andy says. “Out and about one night, the bar talk was about a new club that had to be checked out. Back to Basics had landed, and that first time I went there remains one of the defining nights of my life. Back then I could never have imagined that the host, the legendary Dave Beer, would one day end up in my phone book as ‘Dave B’.

“Who could have predicted that 25 years later the man who took me from my musician’s life of brass bands, jazz and orchestras into the world of house, would be asking me to a do a gig for him with… a symphony orchestra? Apparently I just need to turn up with my trombone and Dave will have the rest covered”.

Co-writer and singer of Livin’ Joy’s Italo-house classic Dreamer, Janice Robinson floored Robbie Williams, Simon Cowell and the X Factor panel when she returned to the stage with the song in 2018. She performs a new arrangement of her number 1 hit, plus Robin S’s Show Me Love.

Also joining the bill, Happy Mondays vocalist Rowetta found a new audience through another legendary X Factor audition, and became the only female to reach the final four in 2004. She recently announced that she will be rejoining the seminal Manchester band for an epic Greatest Hits tour this winter. “Last year I came to the party and it was so beautiful”, she says. “It will be a real honour for me to be up on stage this year, performing with the wonderful Orchestra of Opera North and my good friend, the one and only Dave Beer of the legendary Back to Basics, alongside so much great talent.”

Returning from last year’s concert, British gospel and house singer Rachel McFarlane will be performing Let The Music Lift You Up, which she took into the UK charts with Loveland, and her self-penned Lover, which was mashed up with Paul Van Dyk’s For an Angel as a late-90s white label sensation.

A longstanding Back to Basics associate, also known for her work with Nightmares on Wax, jazz and broken beat vocalist Sara Garvey is back for her third Symphonic Sounds. A trio of talented vocalists, Adetoun Rattenbury, Sabrina Ramikie and The Voice’s Jaz Ellington, will take centre stage for more club and electronica anthems. The musical masterminds behind the event, composer and arranger Cliff Masterson and musical director Steve Anderson boast credits including Kylie Minogue, Emeli Sandé and Leona Lewis.


Symphonic Sounds of back to basics  - Millennium Square, Leeds


DJ, producer and founder of Back to Basics Dave Beer comments:
I am really honoured once again to be working alongside the brilliant Orchestra of Opera North and Leeds City Council on the third edition of The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics. This year’s show is set to be another amazing spectacle, and I am so excited to be able to collaborate with my good friends Andy Cato and Mikey (MC M.A.D.) from dance legends Groove Armada, Rowetta from Happy Mondays, and of course, the amazingly talented Voice of M People Heather Small.

“Once again we’ll close the show with my favourite part: the voices of Leeds Community Choir led by our very own Cleve Freckleton, with some extra performing arts from the young people of Leeds.


For the past two years the Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics concerts have offered a new way to experience clubbing, filling Millennium Square’s stunning open-air arena with the good vibes that Beer’s Leeds institution is famed for. This year’s concert on 27 July is part of the Opera North in the City weekend, which opens on Friday 26 July with 80s Classical – featuring original guest vocalists including Jimmy Somerville and Nik Kershaw – and closes with a live soundtrack screening of Jurassic Park on Sunday 28 July.

A limited number of Early Bird tickets for The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics are available priced at £29.50, with a VIP bar upgrade on offer for an additional £7.00. Anyone booking both 80s Classical and The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics can save £7.50 on the combined ticket price. For more information and to book, visit / or call Box Office on 0113 2233600 / 0113 376 0318.

Doors for the event will open from 6.30pm with DJs from 6.45pm and live performances from 8.15pm. A number of street food catering concessions together with a fully licenced multi-pour festival style bar in partnership with Heineken will be available within the specially created outdoor arena. The venue is also fully accessible with a raised viewing platform, disabled toilets and a Changing Places high dependency unit. Full accessibility information and companion ticket details are available from the venue website or by calling the City Centre Box office.



Symphonic Sounds of back to basics



Friday 26 July, 8.15pm
80s Classical
Experience the sounds of a musically momentous decade specially revamped, expanded and rearranged for Opera North’s 60-piece orchestra with guest original vocalists Jimmy Somerville, Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw, Carol Decker (T’Pau) and Johnny Hates Jazz.
Hits include Smalltown Boy, Never Can Say Goodbye, Don’t Leave Me This Way, What is Love, Wouldn’t It Be Good, I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, Heart and Soul, China In Your Hand, Shattered Dreams and more, unforgettable tracks by other artists performed by a talented ensemble of backing vocalists.
Part of Opera North in the City
Millennium Square, Calverley Street, Leeds LS1 1UR
Tickets: £32.50 (standing) / £37.50 (seated) / VIP bar upgrade: £7.00 per ticket
Box office: 0113 2233600 / 0113 376 0318
Online: /

Saturday 27 July, DJ sets from 6.45pm, live performance from 8.15pm
The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics
The soundtrack for a generation of Leeds clubbers gets an orchestral upgrade with special guest original vocalists including Voice of M People Heather Small, Groove Armada’s MC M.A.D. and Andy Cato, and Livin’ Joy legend Janice Robinson. Legendary purveyor of good times Dave Beer joins the 60-piece Orchestra of Opera North for a new way to experience clubbing, returning to Millennium Square’s open-air city centre arena for a third unforgettable year.
Part of Opera North in the City
Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult. Not suitable for anyone under the age of 14
Millennium Square, Calverley Street, Leeds LS1 1UR
Tickets: Limited Early Bird: £29.50 / VIP bar upgrade: £7.00 per ticket
Box office: 0113 2233600 / 0113 376 0318
Online: /

Sunday 28 July, 5.00pm
Jurassic Park Live
Steven Spielberg’s epic multi Oscar®-winning film comes back to the big screen in HD, with the Orchestra of Opera North accompanying the groundbreaking special effects, marauding raptors and deadly T-Rex with John Williams’ colossal white-knuckle score live.
Part of Opera North in the City
Millennium Square, Calverley Street, Leeds LS1 1UR
Tickets: £24.00 – £29.50 / Children under 12 half price / VIP passes: £10.00 per ticket
Box office: 0113 2233600 / 0113 376 0318
Online: /