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David McAlmont

June 2011

IT was one of the best songs of the 90s, updating Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound with Bernard Butler’s indie guitar, topped off with David McAlmont’s falsetto wail. It sounded like an impassioned ballad but McAlmont & Butler’s Yes was full of bile.
“It’s quite vitriolic and quite bitter,” says McAlmont, who wrote the lyrics.
“I was imagining what I would say to somebody who dumped me if I became famous. When I wrote it I said it was an I Will Survive for the 90s. And everybody seemed to find it uplifting.”
He adds: “Some walked out on abusive husbands or ended troublesome relationships because of it. I didn’t know it was going to do that.”
Yes was a Top 10 hit in 1995 but continues to be heavily played on UK radio.
“I have to be grateful for Yes because it’s the reason I have a career,” admits McAlmont.
The single and its follow-up hit, You Do, were taken from their debut album, The Sound of McAlmont. McAlmont and Butler, the former Suede guitarist who recently rejoined the band, fell out soon after but teamed up again in 2002 for Bring It Back, which reached the Top 20 and produced two more hit singles, Falling and Bring It Back.
Since then the singer has collaborated with Craig Armstrong, David Arnold, Boo Hewerdine, Courtney Pine and Michael Nyman.
But he’s never been out on tour under his own name, until now.
“It’s because I’ve been busy touring with everybody else,” he says.
“And it’s quite wonderful. It’s 18 years’ worth of great songwriting in one show. So it’ll be songs like Yes, Diamonds Are Forever and Falling and some of the songs I’ve just written.”
It’s McAlmont and band who’ll be bringing the show to Nottingham Playhouse on Monday, as part of the Neat11 festival.
“We’ve had standing ovations on the tour and the only place we haven’t is where there haven’t been any seats.”
He grew up in Croydon but moved to Guyana with his mum when he was 11.
“My mum is Guyanese and had been in the UK for 16 years when she’d had enough and wanted to go home. She went to a place where it was... hot,” he laughs.
“It was difficult because by 11 I had become accustomed to being a British kid. All the comics, the sweets, the TV was all gone. But I got a very good education and free education there.”
He returned to Britain nine years later to pursue a career in singing, re-engaging with pop culture. While studying Performance Art at Middlesex Polytechnic he responded to an ad in the Melody Maker and joined the band Thieves but it was meeting Bernard Butler that would lead to his chart debut with Yes.
He says: “There’s nothing like a cast iron classic to keep you going over the years.”

David McAlmont appears at Nottingham Playhouse on Monday, as part of the Neat11 festival, from 7.30pm. Ticket are £15, call 0115 941 9419 or visit

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