FOR DJ Mark Radcliffe, presenting has always come second in his affections to actually playing music.

And a week on Saturday he will be appearing in Bury with his latest band, The Big Figures.

Mark, who presents an evening show on Radio Two with Stuart Maconie, has played in a succession of bands. He says his decision not to become a full-time professional musician was an easy one though: “I wasn’t any good. No one wanted me.”

But his bands have gathered something of a cult following. The Shirehorses, became a staple of the Radio One show and The Family Mahone, the folk band with whom he drums and sings, have been gigging for 12 years.

Inspired by R&B band Dr Feelgood, Mark formed The Big Figures with his friend of 30 years PJ Walmsley. It sees Mark back on vocal duties, backed by Walmsley, “Go-go” Johnny Jobson on harmonica, Cameron Sweetnam on bass and Andy Hyams on drums.

“If you’re at the front you’re the one talking to people. Even though it looks like rampant egomania, I’ve been disappointed by bands when they don’t talk to the audience.”

Mark’s father is a classical music buff who wrote a column for this newspaper, and his mother was a keen pianist. Mark showed an early talent for drumming by using upturned washing up bowls and his parents bought him a Ringo Starr snare drum.

“Pretty soon it became an overriding obsession — I would read the music papers, listen to John Peel and go to all the record shops in Bolton. There used to be loads.”

Mark says The Monkees were an inspiration: “They made being in a band look like you were just a gang of mates who wore matching shirts and went places in a car to have adventures — and that’s exactly how it turned out.”

* The Big Figures play the Met on Saturday, January 30. To book, visit or ring 0161 761 2216.