Last night, many people’s memories in Boisdale, Canary Wharf, were of the Cutting Crew performance, in March 2022, at the London Palladium. Joined by Go West, both bands captivated an excited audience, backed by Southbank Sinfonia. Tonight was a more intimate experience, and before the show, we exclusively spoke with Nick Van Eede and Gareth Moulton.
Interview: Miriam and Steve Ritchie
Photography: Steve Ritchie
The Palladium show was an epic sound at an iconic venue and a wonderful evening that still lives in the memories of Moulton and Van Eede. “It is an iconic venue,” Gareth says. “It’s ridiculous, but one of the things that stood out to me, and this is very selfish, was that I had the most wondrous night of my life in that venue. Then we packed up our stuff, and we enjoyed a drink, and then I got back up to my home. I had just moved to Scotland. I went on my bike the next morning in the lowlands. It was such a beautiful day, and I was still processing the gig.
“I was in a dream in so many ways. We were at the Palladium last night, and now I’m cycling among deer and red squirrels the next day. How? Is this really my life? It was the contrast between that and the other, which often doesn’t happen. We usually go to another gig.”
Nick has great memories of the evening too. Our review had a natural headline. “It was a Sunday Night at the London Palladium,” he says. “Younger people won’t know what that means, but it was Sunday night. So that was pretty cool.”
The pair spoke about the Palladium backstage layout, with plenty of tunnels. “You could get lost very easily,” Nick says. Were there any Spinal Tap moments? “There were plenty of Spinal Tap moments,” laughs Gareth. “Hello, Cleaveland…!!”
“I want to say something tonight when we play,” Nick smiles, “that this is the first time we played London for many years without an orchestra.”
At the Palladium, the pair seemed to be loving their time together and confident in each other’s skills. For eighteen years, Gareth has been with Nick in Cutting Crew. It’s obviously a special connection they both have.
“We don’t really work hard on it,” Nick says. “Cutting Crew was always about vocals and guitar interplay. So you can do that just standing still, looking forward, or you can look at each other and go, it’s your turn now.”
“When you fall in love, you fall in love,” Gareth sings. “You know, I think we did at some point.”
Ransomed Healed Restored Forgiven was released in April 2020, a reworking of Cutting Crew songs performed with a sixty-piece philharmonic orchestra. “You don’t often get approached by record companies to make a record,” Nick says, “They called me and said, do you want to make a record with an orchestra? And I said, who is this? They were a bona fide company, and they put it together. It was an interesting process. It was one of the hardest, longest projects I’ve ever been involved with.
“Logistically is the way to put it,” Gareth says. “There are a lot of technical issues with recording a symphony orchestra and arranging it for a rock band. A lot of those technical issues hadn’t been thought about initially.”
“You get the symphony orchestra when you get them,” Nick says. “Because they’re a big deal,” Gareth agrees.
“We might not have put the drums on, and we’ve done the orchestra recording,” Nick says. “Imagine that. So they’re playing to a baton, and then we go, well, the tempos all wrong.”
If you take the track, I’ve Been In Love Before, I love the kind of Spanish guitar solo. Then Gareth’s electric guitar solo kicks in really heavy, and he is whacking the old Whammy bar. At the back end of that, there’s a high-pitched vocal. It’s a real goosebump moment.
“It’s a good one,” Gareth says. “There are a lot of high points on that album, for me. That’s definitely one of them.”
“A lot of these songs have been rearranged,” Nick says. “That goosebump moment is the key change. It’s not on the original single, and now it goes wide and with a big organ. So it’s the first time we’ve recorded it in a studio. To record it again, it proves that the arrangement does work.”
Ten years ago, a guy on YouTube shared the video released with the single back in 1986, which has had ten million views already. Presumably, he makes some money from the adverts, not that Cutting Crew see any of that.
The new version of One For The Mockingbird is a slice of progressive pop rock. Does Nick think back in the day, he was unfairly positioned in the pop genre? “That’s a very good question,” Gareth says.
“And it is a very crucial question,” says Nick. “It’s probably the Albatross of Cutting Crew. Ever since day one. That is when we were a British band. We had success there. First, I’m always a rocker. Kevin [MacMichael] was too. But the video and the persona… They put me in the pretty magazines and all that.
“So we became a pop group, and it doesn’t make me cringe or anything, but I’m a rock singer. So it took ages and ages to undo that. Maybe we still have not. In America, if you’re not a rock band, they won’t even get you or sell tickets there. We proved that out there. This country is still a bit on the fence. It’s a very good question. It’s amazing. At first, they had me in white boots. They made me up in boxing boots and the big old coat. Not out and out pop. It wasn’t tattoos and biceps.”
No Problem Child has a stunning arrangement on Ransomed Healed Restored Forgiven. The way Nick spits out some of the lyrics, including a “fuck,” it’s a beautiful expression of emotion.
“It’s a big song that we will be playing tonight,” Nick says. “Again, trading off each other. The thing with Gareth is he gets it. If he doesn’t get it, he’ll ask me, or he will say, let’s not play that, which he has done a few times. But he gets those songs, and that’s why it’s a good partnership. It’s a big song. It’s a real journey. You can’t cut a verse or two or cut a bit in the middle.”
“You have to commit to that one,” Gareth says.
“I put it in the setlist at number three until two days ago because I couldn’t work out how to do it,” Nick says. “Tonight it’s rightly in the second half. You have to wait a bit for that.”
Everything But My Pride features the female singer who appeared in the original version. “Jackie Rawe, amazing,” Nick says. “I live in Hastings and was sitting in a bar one night. Someone said I think that lady is Jackie Rawe. We became friends and, I said, a month later, come and sing on the record. But you can’t make that up. She could have been living in Macclesfield or wherever.”
With more shows on the horizon, it seems that Cutting Crew came out of the lockdown process in good spirits. Do they feel they are in a good place now and the future is bright?
“It does feel good,” Gareth says. “Nobody had any idea of what the landscape was going to look like after we came out of the pandemic. Nobody was working. Everybody was saying this is probably the end of the music business in a lot of ways. There were West End shows closing, money being lost, and musicians giving up. Doing other jobs out of necessity. Some were just going, I’m fed up with this. I can’t see a future.
“It looked very dark at one point for me, definitely. I’ve spoken to people afterwards, asking did they feel that darkness. Did they feel that this could be it? Is it all over? Everyone, without exception, said yes. There was a moment when I questioned the actual future of everything I’ve ever done. I think we all went through that, whatever you were doing.”
“You do turn into yourself, don’t you, Gareth?” says Nick. “Because you think I play my guitar and sing and write. But it wasn’t the same as playing live, and that’s when some people, maybe 50% of the music musicians, might go, that’s OK, that’s not crucial to me. But for me, that was crucial. I missed it.”
“I had completely underestimated how much playing in front of an audience was part of my intrinsic makeup and total being,” Gareth said. “I suppose from an ego point of view, but this is what I do, and this is what I’ve always done. And when that’s taken away from you… So to answer your question, any string of dates where you get to play with people in front of people seems like something wonderful now. No matter if they’re small, they’re large, wherever they are. It feels like moving forward, at least.”
“We’re proud,” Nick says. “We’re doing well. My voice is back after all the operations. You’re still standing, aren’t you?”
“I’m still standing,” says Gareth.
“We’re having a lot of fun,” says Nick.
You can read about the Boisdale show with more photographs here.