Michael Bolton Talks To Absolute Ahead Of His Brighton Show
Michael Bolton Talks To Absolute Ahead Of His Brighton Show
Multiple Award-Winning Singer, Songwriter and Social Activist Michael Bolton returns to the UK this week to start the Love Songs Greatest Hits tour including a date at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall. Known for hits such ‘How Am I Supposed to Live Without You’, ‘How Can we Be Lovers’, ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’ and ‘Time, Love And Tenderness’, Michael Bolton has sold more than 65 million albums and singles worldwide. Michael continues to tour the world every year, all while writing, recording and taping for a wide array of projects spanning music, film, television and branded entertainment.
Ahead of his tour we got some time with him before he heads across the pond….
So how are you feeling about heading back to the UK on the Love Songs Greatest Hits tour after the touring industry was shut down for so long due to the pandemic?
“It’s so surreal still. In my lifetime I’ve never had this. It’s bizarre. My band and crew are chomping at the bit to get on the road. I’m trying to wrap my head around how to deliver a new show but with the greatest hits because that’s what my fans have been coming for 30 years for. I feel nervousness. Like this is my first tour or something – and it’s not my first tour by any means.”
What is special about seeing your fans from around the world in person?
“The UK is such a central part of my life and career. I have my beliefs that for whatever reasons when my career finally took off, around ’87, the UK became the second-biggest audience for me in the world. It’s been amazing. Much more than I dreamed of. I just wanted to have a career singing, which seemed too much to ask until it finally happened. I’ve been touring up and down the UK for some 35 years. A long time. But that’s not what makes the fun and the heart of touring. That’s personal between the audience and myself. Far and away number one passion all these years later being able to walk on stage and enjoy and laugh with the audience – in most cases make myself the entertainer who likes to keep things light while we go into some heavy musical subject matter – it’s something that’s amazing between the artist and audience that lasts for so many years.”
You must be familiar with so many iconic venues.
“I’ll know the venues. When I get backstage I recognise where I am. I know most of the hotels. In a lot of them I can close my eyes and find my way to my room. With the UK in general. My grandmother is from Leeds. She didn’t remember a lot about Leeds but I found her a book in Leeds all about the city. I gave that to my mother and let her know where I was going.”
Tom Cruise has been out for a curry in Birmingham and to a quite country pub for a drink while in the UK filming the new Mission Impossible movie. Do you like to go out incognito and sample local delicacies?
“I do.. I can’t imagine Tom Cruise walking around on any country on earth and not being immediately recognised. I do like it when I have enough time in between concerts to walk around and be a tourist, take pictures and make notes. Enjoying being in a place that I look forward to going to. The UK happens to be one of those places. I developed a fondness from spending so much time there through the years going to do promo. I developed a group of friends that I love and look forward to seeing every time I’m back. Beneath all of it, if that bond is there – and recognition musically is there – it will emotionally be there. I’m kinda hoping there’s a freedom to be emotional about being back on the road.”
It’s bound to be emotional because there will be people in audience who might not have been to a show for two years. There will be tears as you play songs that mean a lot to them.
“I look forward to that and it being a more emotional experience. I think you’re right all this time for them waiting is going to create this sense of an emotional appetite that’s well past addressing. At the same time I need to relax and have fun on stage. That’s kinda my job. Even as we speak about it I think about the years of developing knowing that so many, or almost all, of my greatest hits are in so many homes in the UK. I have memories as a young American that the UK has been our (America’s) friend and ally since I was born. There’s part of you that embraces that, like the child in you that remembers this friendly consciousness that exists between us. Not that we always agree about decisions that our leaders make but we still embrace each other as people and some sort of global family. It’s not a stretch for me to say that. Once you get on stage and the audience is singing every song, then there’s no mistake about it. You’re home again. I feel like I have this tremendous responsibly as well as tremendous amount of permission to be myself and connect with the audience. To joke about everything from song titles to what people were doing in their lives at certain times. Of course the audience is going to be yelling out from time-to-time things that I’m not going to believe I just heard. I’ll say: ‘I’m sorry. Could you just repeat what I heard?’. Then they’ll start laughing. I then literally will wish I hadn’t heard it.”
What sort of things do they shout out? Rude things?
“Not if you think a proposal is a rude thing?”
No, that’s a compliment! This is the Love Songs Greatest Hits tour. You must be responsible for so many proposals and babies thanks to your wonderful love songs. That must be a cool feeling?
“It is funny. As the years ago by you understand that more. We have friends of my management, who, at a meet and greet backstage, the gentleman proposed to his girlfriend. I thought: ‘What if she says no?’. So far I hear that it’s going pretty well.
The Lonely Island Jack Sparrow track introduced you to a new audience and is still generating huge YouTube views.
“That’s the gift that keeps on giving.”
You have such a great sense of humour and in the UK we really embrace that. Justin Bieber called you “a beast”, which is a compliment in youth speak. What was that period like for you?
“When I was approached by The Lonely Island guys I already loved their videos from Saturday Night Live. There’s a Natalie Portman video that’s insane. It’s hilarious. I was very happy and surprised they came to me about doing a video. The first script they showed me was nasty – just filthy. I said: ‘I can’t do this. I get what’s funny about this but not all my audience is going to appreciate it’. They said they’d tweak the lyrics and make it better. Next thing I knew I was told there was a new version. I read it and was so excited. I was giddy like a little child thinking: ’This one I can definitely do’. I called them and they said: ‘Can you get to a recording studio? We’ll start tonight’. I went to the studio and they turned up via Skype – remember Skype? They were there producing the session from New York City while I was in Atlanta. We stacked harmony on top of harmony. I was nervous because I was told the Saturday Night Live executives had heard it and were excited about it. I knew we needed to keep everybody focused and feeling good about it. Next thing I knew it was time to air it on SNL. I found a dark corner in the studio and sat in a chair in the corner because I was a wreck about what if they don’t like it. No matter how many people told me: ’They’re going to love it,’ you don’t know until it goes viral. What is it now? 220million views? It opened the door for me to have fun. Self-deprecating when necessary. Taking one for the team. I got invited onto several episodes of Two and a Half Men, Fresh Off The Boat then we did a Netflix special Michael Bolton’s Big Sexy Valentine’s Day. That was a pleasure. I got spoiled. People wanted me to have a good time while doing work. I love doing the work. I never looked at the clock to see how much longer we had. I could have kept filming forever. It was so much fun. Those guys are hilarious. That changed the narrative quite a bit. People heard the song and saw the video who maybe never heard my music or barely knew who I was as an artist.
You’ve had such a rich career which would translate brilliantly to the big screen. After seeing Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody do so well over the last couple of years, do you have any plans for a biopic?
“I’ve been asked this a few times and it depends on are we going to be looking at anyone singing. It takes a while to put these things together. I don’t have anyone in mind because I don’t have a concept in my brain. I do have it on my radar. It’s a really strong, unusual story. I’m looking at it but not there yet.”
ABBA are sending avatars of themselves out on tour. Is that something you would consider in future or would you like to continue performing in real life for as long as possible?
“I think that’s something that only time is going to tell.”