You won’t find Gareth Malone tearing up any hotel rooms – but he does feel ‘wired’ after a gig: ‘I’ll be chatting in the hotel bar till 3am’
Posted by  badge Boss on Oct 21
Gareth Malone is embarking on a new tour – after stints in Masterchef and The Masked Dancer (Picture: Trevor Leighton)

Tarting it around?’ exclaims , the choirmaster most famous for his Military Wives Choir and the Great British Home Chorus during the pandemic, and his involvement in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert among many other things.

‘I don’t think I’ve ever used the expression “tarting”. That’s your word…’

I’ve just suggested that what with the new tour, Sing-Along-A-Gareth, and recent stints on and , he’s been, you know, putting it about a bit.

He’s actually right this minute taking time out from practising instrumental parts – guitar, keyboards, ukulele, Irish whistle – and memorising lyrics for a show that features other singers, a pianist and a percussionist and lots of trying to persuade the audience to join in…

‘There will be little bits to do in each song if they want to, but if they don’t, that’s fine,’ he says. ‘And then in the second half, we’ve got local choirs coming to boost the voices and do uplifting songs like I’m Still Standing, Right Said Fred.

‘And then we make up songs on the spot with the input of the audience: they suggest words and a tune and then we harmonise it and make 
it into a performance.’

As for the experience of touring – which he is ‘keeping real’ by using public transport rather than a tour bus – it’s definitely not about breaking up hotel rooms and funnelling in groupies, although there will be rock star-style late nights.

‘I think all that is a myth,’ he says of the reputation of touring. ‘The rider says vodka and then you get there and no one’s touched it because it’s been all herbal tea, because they know they have to do another gig the next night. No one is indestructible. But I do find it hard to wind down after a concert: I get pretty wired, so you’ll find me chatting away in the hotel bar until three in the morning.’

And if you were hoping for a bit of Masked Dancer action – he was revealed as Cactus – he’s keeping those cards close to his chest. ‘Never say never,’ is all he’ll reveal, though he does remind us that there was a conga for the Great British Home Chorus.

‘What on earth possessed me to do Masked Dancer?’ he asks, especially as he ended up twisting his ankle by falling down the stairs after the first rehearsal.

‘I actually loved every minute of it. When the call came in, I thought no one will expect me to do that. It felt like a mislead because people would think of me doing Masked Singer. Also, I liked the idea of learning how to dance, because I’d never had a dance lesson in my life, so that was awesome.

Gareth Malone and some of the 650 members of the Military Wives Choir at Wellington Barracks in London (Picture: Alamy)

‘And Oti Mabuse said that I was a very good performer… I think I bring an energy and a commitment to my performance to make up for a lack of actual dance skills. And it was my first big thing after the pandemic… then I fell down the stairs.’

Then there’s the Masterchef performance, which was also a success. ‘Well, when the offers come in, you have to weigh them up…’ he says. Sounds a bit like tarting it around to us, but ‘weighing up offers’ will do.

‘I spent a month making things with butter and salt and not very healthy things but I think it went really well… I felt like I left with my head held high.’

But apart from the, erm, offers and the foot injury and the tour, there has been one fairly scary development in Gareth’s life, the discovery that he had tinnitus, the hearing disorder – potentially career-ending for someone in the music industry.

‘I went to a consultant and he said it could be my mobile phone too loud on that ear or it might be years of being in teenage bands… we’ll never know but there’s been no particular degeneration. But I’m quite evangelical about this. People are careless with their hearing. Gigs have got louder and louder. I prefer quality over volume. Half the live gigs I go to – as opposed to classical concerts – I come away thinking, “I’d really rather listen to the record,” because the room can’t contain that amount of volume and it’s bouncing off the walls and it’s all an absolute mess. It’s rare to go to a gig and think it sounded ace.

‘I have so many friends who used their Walkmans all through the 1980s and in their thirties started to go deaf because they blasted their ears.

‘It’s a roll of the dice and then when you start to go deaf there’s nothing you can do.’

Hear that? Now turn it down.