Quotes & Testimonials
"...the maddest band on the Uni circuit..top night guaranteed !!!" - Luke Stretton , Teesside University
"Big Ian & the boys are legends !!!" - TV Presenter Mark Durden Smith
"I couldn't stop dancing all night" - Cameron Diaz
"The only band to sell out the Grand Opera House a record 22 times !!!" - Minster FM
"Big Ian makes the audience part of the show !" - Actor Mark Addy
"HUGE made our ball! Everybody left drunk and happy asking when we were having them back" - Hull Ionians RUFC
"HUGE had 10 000 people dancing in the streets of York for BBC Music Live. It looked like Glastonbury !!!" - BBC Radio York
"HUGE were the icing on our wedding cake. We will never forget them" - Nick & Nia
"Nobody whips up a crowd like Big Ian ! That's why we have HUGE every Freshers & Summer Ball" - Steve Keeble, Leeds University
"HUGE are like musical Harlem Globetrotters...they pretend to be clowns but you know they can play !!!!" - Yorkshire Life
VERY few tickets remain for Huge's traditional double dose of winter blues-beating entertainment at the Grand Opera House, York, on January 26 and February 2.
Formed in 1990, the York party band, featuring Big Ian Donaghy, first played the York theatre in 1993 and now return there with a more diverse set than ever.
'In a land of dreadful tribute acts, Huge resisted, ' says Big Ian. 'We chose not to come out with the soul-band set that always does the rounds, and instead we have the most bizarre set list, stretching from swing to reggae and Ska to rock'n'roll.
'The show now includes Amy Winehouse, Michael Buble, The Who, Queen, Elton John, The Beatles, Take That, Robbie Williams, James Brown, The Jam and Stevie Wonder songs, as well as some Motown and disco.'
Huge have a simple aim. 'We want to give people a great night where they become a part of the show, ' says Big Ian. 'As 'brassheavy fromagiers and purveyors of funky cheesy tunes', we put credibility into quarantine to get audiences on their feet and we play every gig as if it's our last.'
Huge have performed gigs with 2007 Strictly Come Dancing champion Alesha Dickson, Girls Aloud, Fun Lovin' Criminals and had the likes of Bill Nighy, Tim Rice and Coronation Street and Emmerdale stars dancing.
What will be on the cards for Huge fans at the Opera House?'Wait and see, but our past gigs there have included special guests on video such as Tara Palmer Tomkinson, who recorded a promo from I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here; Harry Gration at Look North; and Theatre Royal panto dame Mr Kaler: Berwick is the man to look up to in this city, ' says Big Ian.
'Last year we had a recorded performance of me doing a duet of James Brown's I Got You with Justin Timberlake in front of Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore.'
It is no surprise the tickets are in such short supply.
The York Times
Even the flood water wanted to get into see HUGE at the Grand Opera House creeping towards Silvano's but not even it could get a ticket. For two nights the Opera House was crammed to the rafters with a mixture of hardened stalwarts, gangs of women & anxious first-timers unaware of what lay ahead...
Because a night with HUGE is not a standard 'sit and watch the band' experience. From the comedy intro video from York Legend Berwick Kaler to the very end the audience were up dancing in the aisles.
HUGE opened with an aggressive version of the Temptations' 'Get Ready' but HUGE are not just a soul band.
As well as the tried and tested Mustang Sally & disco tunes they crammed the 3 hour show with tunes by Queen, Gnarls Barclay, Barry White, James Brown & Elton John.
No tune was beneath them and the audience loved it. Big Ian held the 1000 strong crowd in his hand throughout the show having them singalong and mimic his dance moves interjecting with one liners between songs.
Although they claim to be 'cheesy entertainment' HUGE can perform with the best of them - their rhythm section is super-tight, George & Hooter's harmonies are beautiful, the brass section raised the roof with a powerful performance and Big Ian's voice sounded stronger than ever.
There was something for everyone - from Happy Hour by the Housemartins to Northern soul classics like the Snake. Big Ian, at one point, had all the women in the stalls around the boxes singing 'Back for Good' & 'Relight my fire' by Take That.
As per usual the soloing from sax player Kempy had the audience screaming in admiration. Ian even enlisted George, the butt of all the gags & keyboard player, to assume the role of Kiki Dee in their version of 'Don't go breaking my heart' - a very disturbing image!
People left after a rousing, over the top version of Delilah, hoarse & with sore hands from clapping but all agreed they had had a fantastic evening.
Huge don't rest on their laurels nor cut corners - the show was visually superb with an amazing lights and graphics show. They put their audience 1st, 2nd and 3rd and it's clear to see why their tickets go so quickly. We'll be back next year.
The one and only...Big Ian! After filling the Grand Opera House a record seven times, York party band HUGE needed a new challenge.
They decided to take on the Barbican Centre: the venue where Robbie Williams did not sell out; nor did Criag David; but these cheesy chancers have done so now. HUGE play their fromage-heavy brand of brassy nonsense at a brimful Barbican tomorrow (1st) in a 7.30pm charity show.
Singer Big Ian says: 'We've supported the likes of Atomic Kitten, Liberty X and Mis-Teeq this year but this show is the biggest thing we've taken on. We've formed a 20-piece band specially for the evening to play anything from Sinatra and Andy Williams to James Brown and Robbie Williams.'
The Barbican Centre will be 'totally transformed' for the night thanks to event sponsors KitKat Chunky and the Evening Press, with free chocolate for the audience. 'The gig is a tribute to Brian Wilkinson - the father of our trombone player Stu - who died earlier this month. His love of big bands inspired us to use a big band line-up at the Barbican,' says Big Ian.Donations at tomorrow's show will go to leukaemia charities.
HUGE effort raises cash for two charities By Richard Edwards. Party band HUGE rocked York city centre with a special gig - and helped raise cash for two charity causes.
The gig, in aid of the Lifesaver appeal to pay for a St John's Ambulance Crusader ambulance and Nestlï¿½ charity Sweet Charity, saw HUGE belt out favourites such as 'King Of The Swingers' and 'Mary's Prayer'.
Shoppers and shop staff stopped to enjoy the Saturday lunchtime fun - and joined in the choruses.
HUGE frontman Big Ian said: 'It was a great atmosphere. People from shops were coming out, bringing us cups of tea. There was a lot of audience banter, which is just the way we like it.'
The big band sound Chunky York band HUGE have finally discovered a chocolate bar that can live up to their big appetites. The party group has teamed up with Nestlï¿½ Rowntree, which is sponsoring HUGE's November 1 show at the Barbican.
The show, which is also being sponsored by the Evening Press, will mean those who turn up will be able to get their hands on the KitKat Chunky confectionery in a giant tasting session. Lead singer Big Ian said: 'There's one member of the band, I won't say who, who eats KitKats like other people drink water. We are delighted that Nestlï¿½ are helping us raise money for charity with our gigs.'
Graham Walker, Nestlï¿½ Rowntree sales communications manager, said: 'We are delighted to be a co-sponsor of this great local band, and we look forward to supporting them in 2003.'
Natalya Wilson talks to Big Ian, frontman of York party band HUGE about how the band came to be, the importance of having fun, their most bizarre gig and their biggest moment of fame so far. So Ian, how did the phenomenon that is HUGE come to be?
We originally started out as The Untouchables around 1980 when myself and Phil Hardly got together and asked the question 'Shall we form a band?' and decided it would be a good idea. Our first gig was for Comic Relief and we went from there. The line-up has changed over the years to the fine set of musical athletes we have now. The name HUGE came about because there was already a band called The Untouchables out there - so I named it after one of my favourite films - which fitted the size of the band and, unfortunately, the size of me!
Hence why you are known as Big Ian! So why did you decide to be a party band? Well, we all have our little ambitions when we're younger and I thought I was too big and not a good enough singer to do the whole star thing. Besides, many musicians take themselves too seriously and don't seem to have a lot of fun. People want to have a good time - we do music for our own enjoyment and the audience's enjoyment too. All our gigs are purely audience based - I often imagine how I would like to see us if I was in the audience and so we play according to whether we would like it.
So have you ever fancied hitting the big time? No - we're either small small time or small big time, depending on how you want to look at it! You see, you can be small big time or big small time for a long time, but you only tend to be big for a short time - and we'd prefer to be around for a long time, having lots of fun! Describe a typical HUGE gig to me.
It's absolutely mad - a gig like those we do at the Opera House, for example, will have an audience ranging from very young children to OAPs, all there to have fun. And that's what we do. People come to our gigs to have a good time - and we do exactly what it says on the tin! Our gigs are all about humour, fun, music, lots of hefty brassiness - and having a good time, of course.
So what's the most bizarre gig you've ever done? Our maddest gig was at Lancaster University, a few years ago. The organiser booked us into a place called The Sugar House in Lancaster, which has capacity for 1,200 people. Except the entertainment guy at the university organised the gig right in the middle of the examsï¿½ and three people turned up! We did a two hour gig, because we thought it was so funny and we had a job to do ï¿½ even though he begged us to go! It was hilarious ï¿½ it was just mad, me and the brass section were on the dance-floor, having a laugh with the three people, who were basically the bar staff, playing stuff we wouldn't normally play live, it was fab - and about the nearest I ever got to seeing ourselves!
That sounds like it was good fun! So what has been your biggest moment of fame so far? Well, we have played above Atomic Kitten and Hot Chocolate before, to name a few, but my biggest thrillï¿½ there are two. One was when we played at Headingly when Leeds Rhinos won the Challenge Cup in 1999 ï¿½ it was terrifying, we entertained 15,000 rugby league fans for two hours ï¿½ and they seemed to like it, so we must have been okay! The other was when we were booked to do BBC Music Live. We were playing in Coney Street and expected a few to turn up, but it ended up that Coney Street looked like Glastonbury when thousands and thousands of people came along ï¿½ it absolutely blew us away!
So how do you manage to juggle the band and your day job? I teach in a mainstream school. I run an Inclusion Unit, I'm head of Year 9 and teach special needs. I really enjoy teaching and I really enjoy the music and the secret is that I work very hard at both jobs, don't sleep and look dreadful!
I know that you do a lot of gigs raising money for various charities ï¿½ why is that? We don't do charity gigs as a rule, but when we play in town, as in out in the open, we do raise money for charity because they're big events and it's easy to make a lot of money quickly ï¿½ the charities can make a fortune while everyone has fun. It's no big deal ï¿½ we have a high profile and it's more fun than a sponsored walk! We're there anyway so we might as well give a positive message.
We attracted a huge number of people last time we played in Parliament Street and raised ï¿½1,700 for Macmillan nurses ï¿½ we've also supported St Leonard's Hospice and the NSPCC. So when you're not playing, what music do you like listening to? I like a lot of varied stuff.. I'm trying to think what I have in the carï¿½ souly stuff and more up-to-date music too. What have I bought recently?.. I'll listen to anything from Kylie to indie. I like Paul Weller a lot, I used to like George Michael when he still wrote good songsï¿½ Bill Withers, he's fantastic. I adore Lenny Kravitz, he's just the man ï¿½ Lenny and Bill Withers are two very underrated artists. And does what you listen to reflect what you play? Not really. If it's fun and goes down well, then we'll play it! We do all manner of nonsense and we occasionally do some self-indulgent stuff, like Mary's Prayer by Danny Wilson, that goes down a storm!
So why do you think HUGE is such a popular band? Because we work so hard and it shows. We're always thinking about pushing ourselves to become more entertaining, more polished. We've got some great sponsors ï¿½ the Evening Press
Yorkshire Living Magazine
'YOU'RE the best Grand Opera House audience we've ever had!'
That was Big Ian's enthusiastic verdict on the fans who packed out the York theatre on Saturday night as the city's top party band, Huge, took to the stage.
And indeed, right from the off, the audience needed little encouragement to get up on its feet, and clap, stamp and sing along to an eclectic range of cover songs, from Queen, Elton John and Take That! to The Proclaimers and even Tom Jones - 'no song too cheesy' for this event.
But, just in case some of us felt a little hesitant, Big Ian was a master of manipulation, working his audience with panache and great humour. At one stage, he got 20 or more women to climb on stage to dance and sing with the band, and later three brave men were persuaded to dance to a number as well.
Huge, which always refuses to take itself too seriously, blew away the mid-winter blues with a mix of music, panto and even old-time music hall. The concert reminded me a little of the Theatre Royal panto, which is led and controlled by another big personality who hails from the north-east. Just as with Berwick's panto, people know what they're getting with a Huge concert - a great big fun night out, which is why this show was a sell-out and next Saturday's repeat performance looks set to go the same way.
The men in black were back for their annual charity gig, with a slimmed down version of Big Ian, only this year they had transferred to York Barbican Centre, one of several 'firsts' of the night.
The open expanse of the auditorium didn't have that intimate feel to it initially, but that changed after a few songs and the audience were dancing together en masse, even swaying together (almost) to 'Lovely Day' - that must have made the band feel sea sick!
I suspect for many people this was the first time they had seen Big Ian being left speechless not once but twice. He was surprised initially by Berwick Kaler coming on stage looking for a goose, for which the 'dame' got a standing ovation. The second time was during his own, deserved, standing ovation for being the one to put this evening together. Credit where it is due though, and it wouldn't work out as well without such an excellent band, who are so numerous we don't have space to name them, but we all see them up there giving it their all too.
There were a few of the older tracks revived for this gig, including 'The Snake' in the first half and 'Vehicle' in the second, two of my favourite tracks. Another departure from recent years was the 'nasty big band', this time it was adults on the stage rather than the kids for the second set, for a very slick sound.
Amongst the new songs were the lounge lizard numbers, which explains the suits, as they did 'Had To Be You' and 'Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You'. Also former band mate Martin Ledger came back for a few numbers, including 'Too Late To Smile' from Big Ian's new CD 'Half Of You Is Me'. It was great watching them perform the theme from 'Minder', as the Big Fella was obviously enjoying himself as much as the audience were! From Motown to 'King of the Swingers', another belting night from one of York's finest collection of musicians.