The Orchestra of Opera North has announced its return to Millennium Square this summer for two more all-star open-air concerts featuring original chart-topping artists from the last four decades, as part of Leeds City Council’s Summer Series.
This page was last updated on 24 February 2023.
Superstars from the last four decades of pop and club music have been announced as special guests for the Orchestra of Opera North’s two open-air concerts this summer as part of the annual Millennium Square Summer Series organised by Leeds City Council.
80s Classical will bring pop legends including Nik Kershaw, Go West, Nick Heyward, Heaven 17 and T’Pau’s Carol Decker together with the symphonic might of Opera North’s 50-strong Orchestra on Friday 28 July.
On Saturday 29 July, dance music from the 90s to the present gets a radical revamp with Club Classical Anthems, as international artists take their hits up a gear with the expanded power and colour of Opera North’s musicians behind them. Joining the Orchestra will be Leeds’ own electronic pioneers Utah Saints, Dreamer hitmaker Janice Robinson, twice UK number one vocalist Kelli-Leigh and singer-songwriter Karen Harding.
“We’re thrilled to be coming back to our second home in Millennium Square, and excited to reveal some stellar debuts, as well as the return of some familiar faces, for this fourth instalment of 80s Classical”, says Cliff Masterson, composer, arranger and conductor for both shows.
Sheffield synth-pop legends Heaven 17 – Martyn Ware and Glenn Gregory – come to 80s Classical for the first time with reworkings of their anthems including Temptation. “Hearing some of our biggest hits of the 80s in these new orchestral arrangements is one of the high points of my career”, says vocalist Glenn. “It’s such an emotional and beautiful thing to behold. And now we are going to be performing them live with The Orchestra of Opera North, I’ll get to stand in front of that massive 50-piece orchestra and sing some of our favourite songs live. To say I’m excited really is an understatement (also, rather nervous!)”
Nick Heyward, whose hits with Haircut One Hundred include Love Plus One and Fantastic Day, will also make his orchestral debut. “I’m so looking forward to coming back to Leeds and playing with Opera North”, he says. “It’s going to be a wonderful evening of fantastic music.”
80s Classical favourites Carol Decker and Nik Kershaw both appeared at the inaugural gig in 2019, and will each return for the third time this summer. “I’m flattered to be asked again to perform at this unique event and I’m looking forward to soaking up the wonderful atmosphere with the lovely folk of Leeds”, says Nik, who’ll revisit the timeless Wouldn’t It Be Good, I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me and The Riddle with the Orchestra.
Brit Award-winning duo Go West, singer Peter Cox and guitarist/vocalist Richard Drummie, will perform King of Wishful Thinking, their hit single from the Pretty Woman soundtrack, together with other successes including We Close Our Eyes.
Saturday night’s Club Classical Anthems sees the return of Janice Robinson, whose most iconic hit has been super-sized with sweeping strings, glistening brass and tuned percussion in one of Cliff and his musical partner Steve Anderson’s most inspired treatments. “I am so excited to be returning to the stage with the amazing Opera North!” says the US-born singer. “The way Cliff and Steve arranged Dreamer took my breath away. The first time I performed it on Millennium Square truly was one of the most magical nights in my career, and this summer’s event is going to be epic. I can’t wait to give the audience more!”
For local heroes Utah Saints – Jez Willis and Tim Garbutt – “this is an amazing alignment of the stars for Leeds. It’s 2023: the Year of Culture, the 30th anniversary of the release of Utah Saints’ debut album –and a time when a lot of us need a lift.” Hyperactive, hook-packed early-90s singles like Something Good and What Can You Do For Me were taken into another dimension in their first encounter with the Orchestra on Millennium Square in 2018. “Last time was immense, this time will be off the scale!” promises Tim. “It’s a great honour to perform in our hometown with the awesome Orchestra of Opera North”.
Club culture of the past decade is represented by Kelli-Leigh, vocalist on two UK Number 1s – I Got U by Duke Dumont featuring Jax Jones, and I Wanna Feel by Secondcity – and Karen Harding, who followed X Factor and Eurovision appearances with the moody magnificence of her top ten hit Say Something.
“The chance to experience original artists performing scaled-up versions of their hits, backed by the scale, power and skill of the Orchestra of Opera North, really puts these two shows in a class of their own”, says Musical Director Steve Anderson. “It’s a joy for Cliff and me to work with these artists whose music has meant so much to us over the years – and to share that with our brilliant audiences. The nostalgic aspect of it is incredibly powerful and emotional, no doubt, but what both these shows are really about is great songs that have stood the test of time, given new life by these superb musicians”.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “We are delighted to be hosting these fantastic events again on Millennium Square at the end of July. The magnificent Orchestra of Opera North together with a range of star performers promises to be more must-see outdoor concert experiences for people to enjoy. We are especially pleased these events are taking place within Leeds 2023, as the city showcases its musical and cultural offering and talents to the world.”
Tickets for the concerts are available from 1pm on Friday 24 February via millsqleeds.com (0113 376 0318).
Standing tickets for 80s Classical (Friday 28 July), are priced at £35.00, with a limited amount of reserved seating available at £44.00. Standing tickets for Club Classical Anthems (Saturday 29 July) are £29.50, or £38.50 for reserved seating. A VIP/express bar upgrade is available at both events for an additional £11.00.