Tag Archive: Alf

Alison Moyet + Alex Cornish @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham, 28 October 2013.

I mentioned to someone the other day I was reviewing a singer who started off in a band called Yazoo. They thought I meant Yazz (as in ‘The Only Way Is Up’) #fail. So to explain to this person, read on because tonight, in the delectable Symphony Hall, we here to be entertained by the iconic and beautiful bluesy dulcet tones of Alison Moyet.

To explain (especially to that person!) Alison Moyet was one half of the legendary Yazoo, the duo forming after Vince Clarke walked from a little know band called Depeche Mode after just one album. Moyet was just 21 when she gained the dizzying success with Yazoo – a band who became legends in their own right, albeit all far too short-lived – and went on to release her first triple platinum solo album ‘Alf’ at just 23. Throughout the 80‘s she was one of the biggest female solo stars in the UK and gained awards and plaudits including a Grammy Nominations and inspired a soulful generation. Latterly she’s continued to record, acted, took to the West End stage in Chicago and toured in 2008 with a reformed Yazoo. Tonight is the old and the new although primarily she’s in town with new 2013 album ‘The Minutes’ which we are told touches on the synth pop of her days in Yazoo, with elements of RnB, modern club and electronic experimentation. So she’s circled back to her roots, back to where it all began…

Support tonight comes from singer songwriter Alex Cornish. He’s a classically trained multi-instrumentalist from Dunbar in Scotland who makes and records his music at home. He takes to the stage introducing himself as the “…warm up for Alison Moyet – no pressure then!” As a sing songwriter his music tells tales, his first track he plays keyboards; the set drenched in dry ice. He’s recorded and self-released three albums (and is ‘still not famous’) but if you’d like to buy them you can buy all 3 for £15 tonight (a quip that the audience don’t seem impressed and that maybe he needs to change his pricing for Birmingham!). And he’s running out of copies, to inspire the audience to rush across and buy them.  In between his soulful songs he’s chatty, funny and engaging. Apparently something to do with the XFactor is going on in Brum today – he’s seen a small boy with guitar – and really felt he needed to rush up to him and say – you don’t need to impress Simon Cowell to be a successful musician! ‘Give Me Time’ is dedicated to this young boy. Cornish has been tipped by Radio 2, BBC6 Music, The Times and many more and he’s currently recording his new album – he’s well worth a listen and you can find out lots more including tracks to download for free on his website: www.alexcornish.com

And so to the main act Alison Moyet. The stage is drenched with dry ice again; her two musicians take to the stage, behind their keyboards and here is Moyet, dressed in trademark black. First track up is ‘Horizontal Flame’, a great dance track, to which she receives rapturous applause. “Thank you so much… first time back to an electronic palette in nearly 30 years…” She explains tonight set will be made up of new tracks from her new album and some old stuff (which gets a bigger cheer). “Please don’t sound so happy…” in reference to the older tracks and the audience responds by cheering mentions of the new stuff rather than old. But next track is indeed an oldie, Yazoo’s ‘Nobody’s Diary’, written when she was just 16. The track is great, remixed and more upbeat, Moyet’s bluesy voice still reaches the levels exactly where you would expect it to reach.

‘When I Was Your Girl’ is the recent single; it’s funky, dance and powerful.  In 2013 Moyet is entirely comfortable and confident in herself and is hugely chatty and engaging. She makes the audience laugh; for the next track she had to restart this three times the previous night as she kept forgetting the lyrics; “…it’s hard to remember…” she jokes, “…see you on the dark side.” And we’re into ‘Remind Yourself’, another dance track. This is probably the most commercial Moyet has been in years (and no where near in a bad way). Old track ‘Is This Love’ receives a huge cheer as the audience recognizes it. As she sings, it sends the hackles up on the back of your neck, it may be remixed but it’s more haunting and melodic than the original.

Punters shout for songs: “Request for songs?” she says, “I got a list!” holding up the setlist to the audience as we laugh. “I shall not be taking requests…. I can’t hear what you are saying, but I hope it’s nice….” The mood in the auditorium is upbeat, everyone thoroughly enjoying the gig – we’re all mesmerized by Moyet, not only in her vocals but in the whole performance. ‘Filigree’ a new song, has all those elements of the early days of Yazoo – it’s almost like Vince Clarke had walked on set. ‘A Place to Stay’ is another moody, mesmerizing, powerful yet emotional track, fitting her vocals beautifully.

“You know this one, it’s been covered so many times and I’m in danger of becoming a tribute act! I don’t want to become a cheap karaoke!” It may be remixed and developed and reconstructed but is still totally recognisable – it’s the stunningly redelivered ‘Only You.’ ‘Apple Kisses’ has a blues meets electronica; it’s sexy and alluring as Moyet purrs her way through the track. ‘Changeling’ is a full on dance track. Stuff people like Adele doing Bond themes – peoples working on the next film – give this woman a call!

‘This House’ once again, the hairs on the back of our necks are standing up. ‘All Signs of Life’ – she asks the audience a question, to which she doesn’t expect a huge response: “Is there any long distance cyclists out there?” To which the response was indeed muted. “…well if there is anyone out there you may see yourself in this song… this song is about… long distance cyclists!” It’s a full on dance track. If this is Moyet celebrating her middle age, then all the ladies in the audience definitely want whatever she’s on. ‘Right as Rain’ is a saucy little number, Moyet purrs through it as sexily as anyone. And we get her first single from ’83, ‘Love Resurrection’ stunningly delivered to a huge cheer. People are up on their feet now – the audience thoroughly enjoying Moyet’s set, clapping along as she delivers us yet ANOTHER stunning rendition in the form of Yazoo classic ‘Situation’, delivered with all the Clarke inspiration, yet remixed with a funky beat.

Quick break for encore, returning to a cheer that raises the Symphony Hall roof, we get ‘Whispering Your Name’, which is truly captivating. “You’ll get three songs, then we’ll finish and you’ll leave… I’m telling you this so you don’t hurt my feelings…” Moyet is, as ever, straightforward and to the point. Yellow beams shoot up from the stage, and we get a dancified version of ‘All Cried Out’; Moyet still has the range, immaculately delivered. And to complete another Yazoo classic, as we dance on our feet, it’s something none of us want to do, it’s ‘Don’t Go’ as we recognise Clarke’s synth beat. She stops the song; so engrossed with dancing and being over excited, she forgot to sing! The crowd cheer. “Pretend I didn’t do that…” she jokes. The crowd cheer, before it all restarts and we dance. “You have been tremendous… thank you.”

Wow. I am so lucky; I get to review so many gigs. The good, the not so good and the frankly not very good at all and then sometimes, you get to see a standout. An event that sticks out as, quite frankly, stunning. Alison Moyet’s gig tonight was exactly that. In a great venue, the whole package, from the band to Moyet’s vocals and hugely chatty and entertaining delivery – this for me, has got to be the gig of 2013. If this is Alison Moyet’s mid life crisis / celebration – well it’s a hell of a one and one she is clearly enjoying. You go girl! And long may it continue. And if you want me to recommend if you should see Alison Moyet on this tour: Go. Run out. Right now. Get tickets. Ms Moyet is NOT to be missed.

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Setlist:

  1. Horizontal Flame
  2. Nobody’s Diary (Yazoo)
  3. When I was Your Girl
  4. Ordinary Girl
  5. Remind Yourself
  6. Is This Love
  7. Filigree
  8. Falling
  9. A Place to Stay
  10. Only You (Yazoo)
  11. Apple Kisses
  12. Changeling
  13. This House
  14. All Signs of Life
  15. Right as Rain
  16. Love Resurrection
  17. Situation (Yazoo)

Encore:

  1. Whispering Your Name
  2. All Cried Out
  3. Don’t Go (Yazoo)

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Listening:

Yazoo

Upstairs at Erics [1982]

You and Me both [1983]

Solo:

Alf [1984]

Raindancing [1987]

The Minutes [2013]

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Review for Gig Junkies. Pictures Wayne Fox.