My Darling Clementine at The Stoller Hall - Michael Weston King Interview

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Posted 2023-11-17 by David Keyworthfollow

Thu 23 Nov 2023

The songs of Elvis Costello will resound at Manchester’s The Stoller Hall in November, although Elvis himself will not be in the building.

Instead, they will be performed by the duo My Darling Clementine and young musicians from Chetham's Music School, which adjoins Stoller Hall.

It is set to be a family affair in more ways than one - not only are Lou Dalgleish and Michael Weston King husband and wife but their daughter is a Chetham’s student. Indeed, Clementine was a name the couple favoured for their unborn daughter until later opting for Mabel. She has lit up her parent’s musical life by bringing her piano-playing and other instrumental talents to their songs.

Michael Weston King, Lou Dalgleish and Mabel. Credit: Marco Bakker, 2017

My Darling Clementine’s first album was the acclaimed How Do You Plead? (2011). Their most recent is Country Darkness (2020), which is a line-up of Costello songs from the late 1970s to the last decade.

My Darling Clementine even got Steve Nieve involved in the project, after making contact with him on Facebook. He has been Costello’s piano-man since This Year’s Model (1978).

Speaking to Weekend Notes, Michael Weston King explained that, rather than choosing the most famous Costello songs such as Oliver’s Army and Pump it Up, they opted for the rootsy, countryside of his work, which would suit the musical style of My Darling Clementine. They also cherry-picked songs that would work as ‘conversations’, even if some of the lyrics needed a slight tweak in terms of tenses to work as duets.

Steve Nieve contributed not only his keyboard wizardry but a specific song suggestion - Why Can’t a Man Stand Alone from All This Useless Beauty (2006). He also influenced the musical settings - particularly I’ll Wear it Proudly. The song is from King of America (1986) which was something of a crossroads in Costello’s career. Steve Nieve and the other Attractions did not play on most of the songs, despite still being Costello’s band.

Michael Weston King explained that choosing tracks that Steve Nieve had not originally played on, moved Country Darkness away from being just a ‘rehash’ of the original recordings.

He added that the oak-panelled acoustics of The Stoller Hall would be a great setting for the more ballad-heavy side of Costello’s and his and his wife’s own work.

The Stoller Hall Interior. Courtesy of The Stoller Hall

Reflecting on his performing career, Michael Weston King said that his very first gig would have been in Southport, around 1980 or 81 - recorded somewhere in lost diaries. More than forty years on he said that, despite travel fatigue, playing live had still not lost its pleasure, especially when there was good interaction with the audience and they went home happy

His most recent solo album - The Struggle (2022) features a number of male characters dealing with the challenges in their lives. It opens with Weight of the World about a cop reflecting on his support for Donald Trump, in the light of the president’s infamous 'bible photo op' outside St. John's Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C. during the 2020 George Floyd protests.

He explained that singing via a persona ‘freed him up’ as a writer although he added that The Struggle is still ‘quite a personal record'. One of the tracks - Valerie’s Coming Home - was inspired by his mother-in-law.

Lou Dalgleish’s enthusiasm for the songs of Elvis Costello has been evident for the last twenty-plus years. She even played fanatical fan Elsie Costello in a play called They Call Her Natasha at venues including the Everyman in Liverpool in 2011.

Despite the longevity of Lou Dalgleish and Michael Weston King’s relationship, he did admit that the romantic flames could flick to fiery arguments when it came to working on songs together. Let’s hope that no pots and pans fly at The Stoller Hall and that any domestic strife is only channelled into the set list. Indeed, a collection of songs about marital bliss would only leave Costello and country music fans demanding a refund on their ticket prices.

Country darkness: Lou Dalgleish and Michael Weston King. Credit: Marco Bakker.

STANDARD £17. FTE/U18 £5.50

More Details

The Stoller Hall,
Hunts Bank,
Manchester M3 1DA
0333 130 0967



265593 - 2023-10-07 12:45:20


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