TWO of the classical world’s vocal powerhouses are joining forces for the first time for a UK tour which includes a date in Bournemouth next month.

Aled Jones and Russell Watson have been friends for over 20 years and from the moment we start talking their instant camaraderie and mutual professional admiration is clear.

Last year they produced their first album together, In Harmony, and now they are looking forward to their first joint tour.

Within minutes of our conversation the banter starts kicking off with jibes about their regional differences as Aled grew up in Wales and Russell hails from Salford.

“We always have a laugh together,” says Aled. “The show will be a lot of fun, plenty of jokes, plenty of stories, but predominantly there will be plenty of great music.”

“Our shows are not planned or scripted in any way,” adds Russell. “It’s all based on spontaneity, how we’re feeling depending on certain things that might have gone on during the day so there is always plenty of subject matter. We’ve worked together on TV before, but never actually shared a stage. We kind of bounce off each other naturally – we have been described as the new Eric and Ernie of the classical music world.”

“Didn’t they used to share a bed together in some of their shows?” asks Aled sounding worried.

“Well at least that would keep the tour costs down if we only have to book one room,” suggests Russell and they dissolve into fits of laughter.

Their banter which borders on risque at times, certainly sounds genuine although I wonder if they have ever had a cross word?

“We honestly haven’t,” says Aled. “We genuinely do get on and we have a lot of fun which I think will come across on stage.

“Performing together is a new experience for us as we’re both used to being on our own but you’re asking people to spend money to come and see us so it’s up to us to put on a good show.”

“There are lots of artists out there who take themselves way too seriously,” says Russell. “We’ve probably both had moments when we have enjoyed success and it’s easy to get carried away with that and feel a bit special. But I think overall, particularly artists who have had a career that’s spanned a couple of decades, humility takes over and you realise that it’s important to keep your feet on the ground and just go out there and enjoy it.

“I remember finishing this massive show with a worldwide audience and I was walking around afterwards feeling 20ft tall. Then I got on an aeroplane to go home and the next day I was changing nappies – and that’s the diversity of the industry!

“You have to keep that in mind that what happens to you is transient. It’s great while it lasts ,but then you’re back to real life – you can’t take it with you – so it is important to maintain humility and not to take yourself too seriously.”

“We’re lucky to do jobs that we enjoy, “ says Aled. “Many people are stuck in jobs they hate so it’s important to remember that. And there is also an element of luck involved – obviously a massive amount of hard work and focus is important but there is also an element of luck too – being in the right place at the right time.”

“I spent nine years in the clubs and I genuinely thought I would never progress further than that,” Russell admits. “Then suddenly you’re headline news. It’s a lot to take in at first which is why I have a lot of respect for Aled because he was having to deal with all that at such a young age.”

Aled adds: “Most important of all, it’s about having life balance. At the end of the day I love coming home, closing the door and just being with my gang.”

* Aled Jones and Russell Watson In Harmony at Bournemouth Pavilion on September 30.