ll Divo are currently on their Christmas UK tour, to close the run of dates the group will be performing a huge show at London’s OVO Arena Wembley on Friday 16th December. We caught up with group member David Miller to talk about the tour and all things Christmas!
You are currently on your Christmas tour with Il Divo. How’s it all going so far?
It’s been a wonderful run of performances, we’ve had fantastic audiences and it’s really been kind of an interesting bittersweet return to the UK, given everything that happened last year and spending the entire year giving memorial performances for Carlos. To then come back here to the UK where he passed away, it’s been emotionally challenging, but the support from all of the fans has just been overwhelming, they’ve been fantastic. The tour is in tribute to Carlos Marín, who tragically passed away last year.
How important have your fans been through this difficult time?
Our fans have been really everything, they have gotten us through with their love and support, basically gotten us through this entire year and continue to show so much support to us, we see this in every single concert. When we started the tour last year, it was just so difficult to even get through a single song and anytime any of us had kind of an emotional breakdown, which was quite often, the fans were right there supporting us, showing their love. It really was like a ballast for us and kept our spirits afloat through the difficulty of sharing our grief and pain publicly like that on stage. Just with every show and every audience giving us the love and support, it just gave us the strength to carry on. We’ve made it through an entire year and here we are at the point of basically where we left off last year and we’re only just now starting to look towards the future.
What can we expect from the show?
Well, the show is obviously a Christmas concert, and we have the majority of our Christmas album as part of the set list and the lineup. But as it is the one year anniversary of Carlos’ passing, we have to still remember him and we need to acknowledge the pain of his loss and the pain that everybody’s been through. We have dotted moments throughout the show where we remember things about Carlos and kind of in the holiday context, we tell stories about the moments that we shared over 18 years through the holiday seasons. For example, when we sang on morning TV shows and did some of our Christmas tracks, or that time we were on promo in Spain or various different anecdotes that we do to remember Carlos. It really does feel like he is still part of the show and that’s how we wanted it to be.
You’ll be playing a very special date at London’s OVO Arena, Wembley on Friday December 16th. This must be a great way to finish the tour?
It’s absolutely such an honour to be playing at Wembley Arena. We’ve been playing for 18 years in various halls and settings across the UK and around the world and we’ve had the wonderful fortune to be able to play multiple different venues and play in the Royal Albert Hall and at the Coliseum. Now playing at Wembley, it’s a wonderful thing to feel the love and support of the UK in general, but also especially in London because this is where everything started for us 18 years ago in 2004. It’s always special to come home to London but specifically to play Wembley Arena, it’s just fantastic and I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great way to round up the tour.
What is one of your favourite Christmas songs to perform?
It’s an interesting question, the Christmas tracks all have a unique significance for me. They all kind of ping at my heartstrings in different ways. I think, ‘Oh Holy Night’ is probably the one that is most enjoyable for me as a lyric tenor to sing. It has these wonderful soaring lines that I get to really sink my vocal chords into. But there’s songs like ‘Rejoice’ that just have a much more tender quality to them. I think as an audience member I definitely would probably prefer listening to those, so it’s a tough question! I don’t think I could just nail it down to just one.
Are you looking forward to Christmas and what is the best part of it for you?
Well, this Christmas is going to be, shall we say, subtle because my wife is actually coming over, Sarah Joyce is coming over to the UK to see some of these performances and the Wembley Show specifically. We’re not actually getting back home to where we live until Christmas Eve! So I think by the time we get there and we arrive and after all the travel getting back from Europe, it’s probably going to be maybe 11pm – 11:30 PM on Christmas Eve. So, we’ve made plans for this Christmas to just be subtle, low-key, we’re not doing anything particularly special or grandiose. Just staying at home, probably light a fire and listen to Christmas music and watch some Christmas movies. Our favourite Christmas movie is a Christmas story or maybe The Peanuts, Charlie Brown Christmas or something like that. We want to really just spend time with each other and call our family members, probably FaceTiming, it’s going to be very connected, but very low key.
You have toured the world. Are there any countries that have fond memories for you?
That is a list that is longer than I actually have fingers and toes to count! Literally everywhere in the world that we have been, every country we’ve been to, every city that we’ve been to. We’ve been so fortunate over the last 18 years to have a following that has been so loyal to us, and who have enjoyed our music and given us a reason to keep coming back to these different venues in different countries and cities. It’s always not something to be taken for granted, no matter how successful an artist ever becomes at any moment this could all just disappear in the flash of an eye. This is what we were faced with last December when Carlos passed away we thought that was the end of Il Divo and we had no idea how there was going to be any way to carry on. So I think when we did happen to cross paths with Steven LaBrie and he was able to do the show, this gave us a crutch to stand on and to be able to actually move forward and try and do these shows. There was a glimmer of hope in that but there’s also humility and gratitude that shows up, thinking back over 18 years and all the different places we’ve played.
For example, Australia is one of the most interesting countries, I think in terms of landscape and natural beauty of a country being able to visit all these different places and a wonderful audience that is so enthusiastic every time we return. Same with Japan and the UK, we go around the UK and that’s one of the few places that we actually travel around because it’s so compact to get to all these cities to be able to travel around by car instead of taking flights. We know the UK countryside better than any country in the world and it’s just such a gorgeous and unique ecosystem, culture and climate.
We started here in the UK so there’s so much nostalgia. We lived in London for two years then going around the US, my home country or going around Canada, all around South America, all the different countries, it’s these unique cultures that we get to experience. This year, for example, we went to Machu Picchu together and got to experience that, so many places and peoples to be grateful for. I’ve given you a small, small sampling of literally everywhere!
Tell us about your most recent album for ‘Once in My Life. A celebration of Motown’ that was released last year.
We had the idea to make the Motown album all the way back in 2018, I think we recorded it in 2018 and 2019 with the idea that we would release it in 2020 and go on tour with this album because it was the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Motown label. Discussing with the other boys and with our management company and other people, also taking suggestions from fans, the idea just kind of jumped out of left field of a genre that I don’t think any of us really even had on our radar. Thinking about it, we’re like, okay, well what would we do? Listening to all of the fantastic works of art from the various Motown artists, I think we listened to something like 50 or 60 songs, and trying to whittle that number down just to 10 songs was a really daunting challenge because every song was better than the next.
We had some help from the producers and our management and our partners gave suggestions, we kind of whittled it down to the songs that are on the album. We’re so happy with how it turned out because it’s always a risk to take something that’s so already iconic and try and adapt it to what we do. We wanted to preserve the flavour of whatever that style is while still remaining true to our own kind of vocal integrity and what our voices do, which is very different from anything in Motown. It’s vastly different from what we do with our voices, so trying to tread that balance is always difficult but I’m very proud of what we were able to accomplish with that.
I think it’s a wonderful collection of songs and we’re so fortunate that everybody gave us permission to do their songs and that they were happy with our versions. We did put quite a few of the Motown songs in the memorial tour this year. We got a great reception from the audiences that we performed them for and everybody really seemed to enjoy those moments. That definitely warms my heart and gives me confidence about the album and about being able to perform those tracks as we move forward.
What does 2023 have in store for Il Divo?
I have no idea! We have some more tour dates that we are just starting to announce. 2024 coming up is also going to be Il Divo’s 20th anniversary so we are looking forward to that as well as trying to figure out what it means to go forward for Il Divo? Which is not an easy question to answer, we’ve tried to figure out if we just go on as a trio. Steven has been a wonderful help to us, how might that work in a way moving forward. So really it was about getting through this year and getting through these performances and just getting that show on its feet last February. Also figuring out how to put one foot in front of the other and how to just get to the next stage, get to the next territory. It really was an uphill battle, it’s felt like an uphill battle most of the way, and here we are doing these Christmas shows and it’s not as much of an uphill battle. Though we still have the emotional component of we are here, where we were last year, where everything fell apart. So there’s all those emotional components, we haven’t really spent that much time thinking that far into the future, but it’s on its way and I know we have to come up with something! So stay tuned! I’ll be as interested to see what happens as you are.
Tickets for Il Divo’s final performance of their UK tour at London OVO Arena Wembley on Friday 16th December are on sale now and available hereTags: Il Divo