Tuesday, 01 December 2015

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The members of G4 are set for a tearful reunion with their Cumbrian fans when they play the final date on their final tour at the Sands Centre on Tuesday.

Ben Thapa, Jon Ansell, Matt Stiff and Mike Christie are planning to pursue solo careers after enjoying enormous success since they caught the public’s attention on The X Factor.

Taking a break from rehearsing for the tour, 25-year-old Ben says he is excited about returning to Cumbria.

“We played the Sands a few years ago and it went really well so well we’re coming back,” he says.

G4 also played Carlisle’s pop2thepark music festival in August, performing alongside Roxanne Pallett and Sugababes in front of thousands of delighted fans.

“The audience seemed to really enjoy themselves and we had a great time too,” Ben says.

“It seems the further north we get the more manic the crowds become and really seem to enjoy themselves.”

The band, who famously came second to Steve Brookstein in The X Factor 2004, have denied newspaper reports there may be acrimony behind the split.

“We’re all individuals with very different ideas about what we want to do,” Ben says.

“I’m returning to classical singing and music. I’m moving to Dublin and want to move towards concert or opera work – it’s a long-term project.”

Ben is a friend of Dumfries-born tenor Nicky Spence, who also attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

“He was in the year below us and did concerts with us,” Ben says. “There can be a perception that classical music is elitist, but four young guys standing up and singing opera makes people think. People expect some old, fat guy to be singing opera and they’re surprised to see people like us.”

Ben expects the Sands concert to be an “incredible, emotional” experience.

“It will be intense. Our concerts are always very varied with everything from rock to pop and opera, and it’ll be special. The best part about it is the people that come to see us. We get people from eight to 88 watching us.”

Ben says that the band’s version of Radiohead’s Creep has been very popular with elderly ladies.

“They would never have listened to it otherwise,” he says. “And we get eight and nine-year-olds asking us about opera songs they would never get to hear.”

G4 started singing as a group in Covent Garden while they continued their studies.

“We never saw G4 as what we wanted to do for a living,” Ben says. “We would never have dreamt up what has happened to us when we were preparing to sing on a cold Saturday morning in London.”

Jon, also 25, describes the rollercoaster G4 experience as “amazing and unexpected.”

“It’s been a great chapter in our lives and led to so much fulfilment from an emotional and a business perspective. I’m pretty much fulfilled musically, but the opportunity to stand there on your own and have your own say and not have to negotiate will be great.”

Jon has worked alongside a number of musical legends but says the high point of his career was performing with Lesley Garrett.

“The grandeur and elegance was incredible and she was so supportive,” he says. “Robin Gibb was just phenomenal, and when you hear those names being announced it’s amazing.”

Jon describes Cliff Richard as “iconic”, although the tennis-playing star arrived late for a recording session with G4.

“We quickly forgot about that when he started singing – it was just magical.”

Jon says he is already starting to feel emotional about G4’s final appearances.

“It still feels like a long way off,” he says. “Each gig will feel like it’s the last as we will never play in those places again. It’s been great fun and wonderful to break down barriers.”

So does Jon still keep an eye on the young pretenders competing in The X Factor and other reality shows?

“We were at the BBC this morning and the Joseph people were coming,” he says. “Grease Is The Word is very much like The X Factor, but I like the way Any Dream Will Do (the BBC’s competition to find a Joseph for the West End production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) is going. It’s all about giving it your all and we can relate to that having been there.”

Jon is happy that classical music is more available and accessible than it was in the past.

“People don’t feel alienated anymore,” he says. “It’s a lovely world to be in where people have so much choice and it’s not led by the record companies, it’s led by people deciding what they want on the internet.”

Tickets for the Sands Centre concert cost £28.50 online from www.thesandscentre.co.uk or on 01228 625222. Visit www.g4site.com for band information.


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