Nizlopi are back in business at the Wedge

Nizlopi, with John Parker, left, and Luke Concannon
Nizlopi, with John Parker, left, and Luke Concannon

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Once upon a time a young Ed Sheeran was the guitar tech for John Parker – one half of the oddball folk/hip-hop duo Nizlopi.

John and Luke Concannon scored a massive hit in 2005 with their song JCB , but split in 2009.

Meanwhile, their former roadie has become one of the world’s biggest stars.

Now Nizlopi are back and are playing at The Wedgewood Rooms on Sunday. The Guide caught up with double-bass playing beat-boxer John, who says: ‘We’ve known Ed for a long time.

‘It’s incredible, I went to see him not so long ago. I’ve never seen anything like it, his fanbase is so huge. It’s like Michael Jackson or something.

‘We’re still in touch and he still says nice things about Nizlopi, which helps.’

The duo originally called it a day when they realised they’d become burnt out.

‘After JCB and all that,’ explains John, ‘we went on the road for about three years, and we’d forgotten who we were and we’d forgotten how to be friends.

‘We were both a bit lost really. After we split we didn’t actually see each other for a year-and-a-half, Luke went off travelling and I’m a session musician in London, so we were both busy.

‘Then about 18 months ago we got invited to a friend’s wedding and we got talking – can we do it? Can we still play together?

‘We thought we’d start off by booking a small show and that ended up being two sold-out shows at the Borderline and it’s been festivals and gigs and writing new songs ever since.

‘The idea was just to sort of play in front of some people, I booked the Borderline myself out of my own pocket, and I thought, we’ve got a few months, if we can sell 100 tickets... but I think it sold out in something crazy like half a day.

‘We couldn’t understand it – people are interested, why are people still interested?’

And they’ve also got a new live album out, from recordings of the two Borderline shows.

‘It’s kind of funny to listen to,’ adds John, ‘they’re louder than us for most of it – we were clearly scared, but it sounds great.

‘The audience really make our gigs, There’s only two of us, but Luke is very good at getting people involved – dancing and singing.

‘Every show is completely different and we don’t play the songs the same way from one show to the next.

‘We quite often start our shows with a song we’ve written in the dressing room, which can be good or bad, it’s gone either way.’

Doors open 8pm. Tickets £15 from wedgewood-rooms.co.uk