Ipswich-Regent bound Mike and the Mechanics star Paul Carrack reveals why The Ace hit How Long holds a special place in his heart

Paul Carrack, in Ipswich next week

Paul Carrack, in Ipswich next week - Credit: Archant

The man behind the classic How Long and one of the voices of Mike and The Mechanics, Paul Carrack is on his way to Ipswich.

Paul Carrack's set list will span the length of his career

Paul Carrack's set list will span the length of his career - Credit: Archant

Hailing from Sheffield, in the 1970s he formed Ace whose debut song How Long became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic and is still often heard on the radio today.

He then moved to Roxy Music, playing keyboards on three of their hit albums between 1979-1982, followed by Squeeze where he replaced Jools Holland and supplied lead vocals on Tempted.

It was around this time he started a successful solo career, recording a string of acclaimed albums like Nightbird, One Good Reason and Blue Views. Since 2000 he has released – on his own label – five albums and is about to release a sixth.

Carrack has worked with the very best in the business too, including Roger Waters, Nick Lowe and Elton John.

He’s no slouch in the song-writing stakes either, having penned numbers for The Eagles, one of which, Love Will Keep Us Alive, hit the top of the charts in America.

He was also one of the singers in Mike and The Mechanics, with whom he scored a number of hit albums and singles.

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In 1989 their single The Living Years, on which he sang lead vocals, went to number one in both the US and Canada and number two in the UK.

More recently he has been doing his own thing, but has also been touring with Eric Clapton. He’s noticed a few differences between touring as part of someone else’s band rather than his own.

“Well, we don’t use a private jet or stay in five-star hotels” He laughs. “It’s much easier to be a side man, it’s a bit like a busman’s holiday. You see, when people come to see me, I feel responsible for them having a good time, whereas when I tour with Eric the onus is on him.”

Joining Carrack on stage will be his band.

“They’re a great band and have been with me for about 10 years. It’s a seven piece and includes a sax and trumpet.

The Ace hit ‘How Long’ is a special favourite, adds Carrack.

“It does have a special place because it was my first success. It’s a very simple song but I never tire of singing it. However, I think the more recent songs are my best even if they aren’t as well known.”

He does have to think when asked about the song that gives him the most pride.

“That’s a tricky question. There’s songs like How Long and Living Years, but I’m most proud of my recent material and there’s a lot of it because I’ve released an album a year for about 14 years now.”

Despite all the success, he has no desire to sit back and rest on his laurels.

“No, I’ve worked hard to establish myself as a solo performer, building up a good reputation by word of mouth and doing many live shows every year. As long as I have the opportunity to play live with my band and make my albums I will be happy. When my old bones get too tired to keep going I will probably stay at home and try to write more for other artistes.”

He doesn’t seem to want to pack it in just yet, adding he loves touring the that great feeling when the crowd’s on your side. With the recent release of a new best of album, will the show be a greatest hits tour?

“No, not at all – I leave that to others. Of course there are some hits and I don’t leave them out, but I do a mixture from my entire career.”

And the future?

“Well,” he says laughing, “I’ve just refurbished my home studio, so I hope I’ve got a few more albums in me or it’s been a waste of money.”

n Paul Carrack and his band will be at the Ipswich Regent November 27.

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