SIMON NEIL (VOCALS/GUITAR)
So, after 23 years in the game, you’re still playing grubby little places like the Royal Albert Hall…
“I know! It really is the most beautiful venue. There were a couple of moments there when I was playing a song, sometimes on my own, and I’d look out and think, ‘Wow, this is amazing.’ I’d written these songs on an acoustic guitar, so to play them like that in such an amazing setting was a privilege.”
Rock bands of all kinds often use volume as a shield. Was it at all challenging to ditch that armour?
“Actually, it was exciting. I’m at my happiest when I’m outside my comfort zone, so the challenge was something that I relished. I wanted the gigs to feel like we were playing in your front room, and for my part it’s really helped me reconnect with some of our songs. In fact, it’s been nice to step away from the intensity of loud music. We haven’t turned our back on that, obviously, but for this tour it’s been great.”
Acoustic gigs can conjure up a few clichés. How did you avoid these?
“I hope by realising that it isn’t just about playing your songs in the same way, only on acoustic guitars. I spent a couple of weeks listening to songs and working out ways to play them in different ways. We also presented ourselves differently, too, with Ben sometimes standing at the front of the stage, singing harmonies. We wanted people to be surprised.”