Leeds & West Yorkshire

Bradford rockers Smokie play Kremlin gig

Bradford band Smokie
Image caption The band said they were approached about the show after they had played at a stadium in Moscow

A band that had hits in the 1970s has played an end-of-year gig in the Kremlin at the invitation of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Bradford-based Smokie, whose hits include Living Next Door to Alice and If You Think You Know How to Love Me, played a set on 30 December.

On their website the band described it as an extravaganza of a night with President Medvedev and Mr Putin.

The band said senior Kremlin officials and business leaders were at the gig.

Terry Uttley, one of the original band members, said Vladimir Putin "would appear to be a big Smokie fan".

'Strange career'

"This is the second time he's invited us, the first time was in 2004," he said.

"The invitation was a bit of a shock actually because we thought we'd finish our tour in Estonia on 17 December.

"A few weeks before we had played a stadium in Moscow and were approached backstage with an offer of playing at the Kremlin, but we didn't know if it was going to happen or not."

Singer Mr Uttley said the band had just been in the top five in Australia, South Africa and Scandinavia with an album called Take a Minute that "we recorded in good old Castleford, so we kept it local".

Looking back at the Kremlin set, during which the band played four songs, he said: "It was a very formal occasion, very formal indeed.

"All the top business people in Russia were there and all the top religious people along with the top political people.

"We've got a really strange career away from the UK."

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