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It’s mellow Pellow as Marti matures
He was the twinkly-eyed pop crooner with a grin as wide as the Clyde who melted many a female heart fronting Eighties band Wet Wet Wet.
Twenty years later, he may be older and wiser, but Marti Pellow is still flashing that trademark grin.
Later this year he stars in the stage musical version of The Witches of Eastwick, taking on the devilish role immortalised on the big screen by Jack Nicholson.
"I've hung out with enough devils in my time, I reckon I can bring a fair bit to that role," smiles Marti.
Prior to his musical theatre venture he's on a UK tour showcasing his latest solo album, In a Sentimental Mood, which he describes as an album for lovers. The tour rolls into Bradford next month.
It marks a new jazz-infused direction for the singer.
"This is something different for me, but I've never been afraid to take on challenges," says the friendly Glaswegian.
"Last year I did some shows at Ronnie Scott's which had been a long-held dream. I enjoyed it so much, it's a great intimate venue. I decided to take a jazz show out on the road.
"It's important that it doesn't get too big. I recently played to 100,000 people on a Wet Wet Wet tour, but this time it's just me.
"I'm going for an intimate feel, it ain't all about big fireworks and lights. If you're expecting Love Is All Around and Sweet Little Mystery you won't get it here."
Marti has put his own stamp on songs like Miss Jones, Summer Wind, A Child Is Born and I've Got You Under My Skin. The album has won critical acclaim, with radio and TV personality and jazz fan Michael Parkinson describing it as "a wonderful piece of work."
"It was important to me that the album was accessible; it's not me in a smoking jacket being pretentious," says Marti. "People like Michael Buble and Rod Stewart have reinterpreted jazz classics but I didn't see the point in the tried-and-tested standard delivery. Let's face it, Frank (Sinatra) took care of that.
"I wanted to do something that my fans, and people who wouldn't call themselves jazz fans, could get into.
"I've put my own stamp on songs like You Don't Know What Love Is, which is normally a ballad. I'm proud of the arrangements."
Does he feel that today's jazz-friendly climate, highlighted by the likes of Amy Winehouse, Jamie Cullum and Kildwick's Clare Teal, is encouraging audiences to try something new?
"Clare Teal is a gem. It's great that there's jazz on the radio, played alongside the mainstream stuff," he says. "The internet connects people with songs they may never have come across normally. This music isn't fussy who it breaks bread with; people are realising that now. The point of reference in a song is melody."
Now 42, Marti feels he has grown into the songs on his album. "I couldn't have done this in my 20s or 30s," he says. "To inhabit lyrics in songs like Under My Skin you need to know what life's about."
Born Mark McLachlan, Marti was the lead singer with Wet Wet Wet which originated in 1983 as Vortex Motion. The lads earned a crust covering Clash songs in Clydebank bars before becoming one of the most successful British groups of the Eighties, enjoying 25 chart hits - among them 12 Top Ten successes and three No. 1s - and 15 million album sales.
The hits included With A Little Help From My Friends, Goodnight Girl and their version of the Troggs' Love Is All Around, featured in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, which was No. 1 in 15 countries and topped the British charts for 15 weeks. The band also had four No. 1 albums.
By the late Nineties the band's success was waning and Marti had a much-publicised heroin addiction. In 1999 he embarked on a solo career, working with Chris Difford of Squeeze, and in 2001 released debut solo album, Smile, followed by Top 10 solo singles Close To You and I've Been Around the World.
In 2002 Marti took on the role of Billy Flynn in Chicago in the West End and Broadway. "I can hold a tune and I thought why not?' It's a cracking role."
The following year his mother died and three former Wet Wet Wet bandmates attended her funeral, a show of support that touched him and led to a rekindling not just of the friendship but of the band .
"Moments like that put things into perspective," he says. "It wasn't all about music, it was about a kinship between us."
These days he divides his time between touring with Wet Wet Wet and recording and performing solo material.
"I have the freedom to do what I enjoy," he says. "I still have a passion for singing with the band, and I miss the camaraderie when I'm not with them, but the other side of the coin is that it allows me to make a jazz album and crack on with my own stuff.
"If you come out of that box you've been in for so long, people don't always like it, but I'm incredibly lucky to have a fanbase loyal enough to embrace the new direction I've taken."
He hasn't forgotten the early days of gigging in clubs for peanuts and he admires acts who have grafted in a similar way. "With the Arctic Monkeys you get the sense of a real band. Like us, they served their time singing in their bedrooms and cut their teeth playing pubs and clubs, then they came along and shook up the industry."
- Marti Pellow is at Harrogate International Centre on April 19 - for tickets ring 0845 1308840 - and St George's Hall on April 21. For tickets ring (01274) 432000.