Soul legend Alexander O'Neal to top the bill at Wigan music festival

Thousands of Wiganers will pack out a sports club for a spectacular open-air community event tomorrow featuring a US soul star.
Alexander O'NealAlexander O'Neal
Alexander O'Neal

Alexander O’Neal, whose glittering career includes 10 studio albums and a number of Top 40 hit singles, is coming to Orrell Live for the 2019 edition of the completely sold-out event raising tens of thousands of pounds for the local cricket club.

O’Neal, who also took part in Celebrity Big Brother in 2015, is just the latest big name in pop to make his way to Orrell Cricket Club for the one-day event, which has previously hosted the likes of Five and S Club 7.

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Now in its fifth year, Orrell Live is completely sold out and will see seven bands take to the stage at the Winstanley Road venue, with Golborne Brass Band closing the event with all the flag-waving and pomp and circumstance of Orrell’s Last Night of the Proms.

The massive event, which is expected to bring in between £25,000 and £30,000, is the brainchild of a three-man organising committee made up of cricket club members Spencer Anglesea, Paul Mottram and Martin James.

They are delighted with how the festival has grown and to be welcoming another legend of popular music who has played some of Britain’s best-known venues to Orrell.

Spencer said: “This guy was second only to Luther Vandross in the ’80s. It’s a big pull for people of a certain age. He’s just released a new album and he’s still selling out venues. He did the O2 Arena last year and a big gig in Liverpool.

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“It wasn’t a major operation to secure his services, just a case of dealing with his agency and management. He was available and we could afford him so he’s coming.

“It’s a proper Orrell community event. There’s going to be 3,000 people on the cricket field.

“It is a special day. We have everyone from six-year-olds to great-grandmas there, it’s incredible.

“The inspiration came from Orrell Carnival back in the 1970s when it seemed the whole of Orrell would turn out on the rugby pitch and have a great day.

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“The end of it is our chance to embrace the Last Night of the Proms, finishing off with some flag-waving and Land of Hope and Glory.

“It’s a far cry from where we were five years ago when it started as a drunken idea, like all good ideas are. It’s really evolved.”

O’Neal comes to Orrell with a career in music spanning more than 40 years, with the highlights including the release of solo singles such as Criticize, Fake and Saturday Love.

The rest of the 2019 line-up comprises Oasis tribute band Oaces, Wigan rock band Haze, Little Mix tribute act Black Magic, Motown and Northern Soul singers Reflectionz Duo and young up-and-coming Wigan talent Jake McKechnie.