Stuart Maconie - The Dukes Theatre

Stuart Maconie
Stuart Maconie

Middle aged man analysing pop and rock songs?

It could all be an exercise in navel gazing and chuntering about the best line up of an obscure prog band of the 70s.

Thankfully, in the hands of radio host, writer, TV presenter and Lancashire lad Stuart Maconie, this show is an entertaining two hours.

It helps if you’ve got an interest in the popular music of the past few decades, but you don’t have to be a muso to find Maconie’s patter hits all the right notes. The show follows on the heels of his Radio 2 series of the same name and ties in with his latest book, of er, the same name. Hey, if you want to get your message out there you may as well carpet bomb and make sure as many as possible hear the word.

Subtitled the story of modern Britain in 50 songs, Maconie wittily explores how popular music has reflected and influenced our lives socially and politically. Looking like the teacher he once was, he plays snippets of songs ranging from the Spice Girls’ Wannabe to My Boy Lollipop by Millie Small to Paranoid by Black Sabbath and looks at what they said about us - the first an important part of boosting young teenage girls’ self image and friendship ties, the second probably the first exposure the majority of white Britain had had to Jamaican ska and to black culture and the latter giving a voice to the young, disenfranchised working classes.

Maconie reads excerpts from his book, plays music and chats about his wider life with reference to growing up in Wigan, seeing The Beatles play his home town when he was a toddler (when he interviewed her, his mum could remember little about the concert but could give a full run down of queueing for the tickets and the food they’d eaten on the day!) his love of walking in the Lakes, and drive to break up the London centric obsession of modern media and Maconie’s own employer the BBC.

If you missed the show he’s doing a couple more North West dates this year - and there’s always the book.


By Elaine Singleton