Interview: Marti Pellow talks about why he feels lucky to be out on the road again and singing all those Wet Wet Wet hits

Bubbling over with as much enthusiasm as when Wet Wet Wet had their first hit in 1987 with Wishing I Was Lucky, the workaholic Marti Pellow admits how the pandemic meant he was at home more than at any time since those early days.

By Graham Chalmers
Friday, 4th March 2022, 4:46 pm
Former Wet Wet Wet singer Marti Pellow will be playing his greatest hits at York Barbican on Tuesday, May 3.
Former Wet Wet Wet singer Marti Pellow will be playing his greatest hits at York Barbican on Tuesday, May 3.

“Until the lockdown rules ended, I spent more time at home than for the last 30 years,” said Pellow who was 22 then but is now a youthful 56," he tells me on the phone.

“Our business was the first to close during Covid but the last to reopen.

“I don’t take walking on stage for granted anymore.

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    “It also meant I came up with a suitcase of songs for my new album last year.”

    Sadly, the Ivor Novello award-winning Pellow, who formed Wet Wet Wet at Clydebank High School at the age of 17, is not bringing his new UK tour to Harrogate, so there will no repeat of the fan worship he experienced at his previous visits to the town in 2008 and 2018.

    Though the likeable singer-songwriter left Wet Wet Wet for the second time in 2017 (the band is carrying on with his blessing with a different singer), anyone who buys a ticket for his Greatest Hits Tour when it arrives at York Barbican on May 3 will be treated to all the big hits going all the way back to his early Wet Wet Wet days.

    “I needed to go solo to do my own thing but I see the new tour as a celebration of the best bits of my career,” said Pellow. “There will be solo numbers but it’s about having a good night and I still love singing all the old songs.”

    Had it not been for the multi-million selling success of Wet Wet Wet, the teenage Pellow was all set to be an apprentice painter and decorator.

    All these years later, Pellow still loves learning new things.

    “It was revelation for me to play guitar on my album Stargazer last year which was influenced by Bowie, Bryan Ferry and The Kinks, not the sort of thing I’m usually known for. I still have that childhood sense of liking the unknown... Every day is a school day.”

    As happy to appear in a Broadway musical as to sing Love Is All Around, Marti jokes that part of the reason he landed West End stage roles from Sir Tim Rice was because the composer’s daughter loved Wet Wet Wet.

    Pellow's knowledge of Scotland's rich rock and pop history, from Lulu to Franz Ferdinand, comes as a surprise, as does his liking for some of his country's less mainstream indie bands such as the Jesus & Mary Chain and Orange Juice.

    While always ready with a smile and a cheery word, Pellow takes the art of songwriting very seriously.

    His late father did restoration work on churches in Clydebank while Pellow is quietly a deep thinker and an aficionado of the architecture of Glasgow.

    “I’m fascinated by the nuts and bolts of songwriting, whether that’s soul legend Willie Mitchell or Stephen Sondheim.

    "Songwriting is about construction. It’s a kind of mathematics.”

    Always game to try new things, the worst months of Covid saw him do a regular series of Lockdown Sessions via YouTube which attracted a loyal following of tens of thousands of music fans.

    Looking forward to hitting the road again, Pellow still sounds like his younger self, wishing he was lucky.

    “I’m still that boy dreaming in his bedroom,” he says. “I’m passionate about everything I do. As soon as that stops happening I will have to think again.”

    Marti Pellow brings his Greatest Hits tour to York Barbican on Tuesday, May 3.

    For tickets, visit www.yorkbarbican.co.uk/whats-on/marti-pellow-greatest-hits/