Tag Archive: Town Hall

Difford & Tilbrook @ Town Hall, Birmingham – 12 November 2014

Tonight to the delectable Town Hall in Birmingham and a journey through the entertaining lives of two classic songsmiths. In the late 70s, early 80s the band that featured these guys turned out ht after hit – the lyrics such that these two individuals were deemed to be the Lennon and McCartney of their generation. The chap who played the keyboards tottered off on his own journey of ‘The Tube’ and ‘Later…’ and Jazz while the band became these core duo and a rotating shift of other musicians. And so for something different tonight, part Q&A, part acoustic trip through their music journey – welcome ‘The At Odds Couple – welcome Difford & Tilbrook.

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Difford & Tilbrook – the songwriting team of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, known for their work as the principal writers for Squeeze. Responsible for the group’s many hits -‘Cool for Cats’, ‘Up the Junction’, ‘Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)’, ‘Tempted’, and many more, they have both written independently outside the band and together – and tonight features solo, collaboration and band.

Difford & Tilbrook was also the name under which the songwriters recorded and toured following the temporary break-up of Squeeze in ’82. That band reunited in ’85 after only one self-titled album had been released from the pair. Having been issued during this brief three-year hiatus, many fans consider Difford & Tilbrook to be the “lost” Squeeze album. By ’93 Difford and Tilbrook were the only original members left in Squeeze, and the band continues to be whatever rotating band membership assembles around the two songwriters.

Tonight’s gig is sold out and there’s no support but we will be delivered two sets from the duo. The stage set, meanwhile, is set like a bedsit, tables, lampshades,chairs, beds, and in the centre a late screen. Cosy. This is a two man show – just acoustic – and as they start, they pretend to get out of bed before their journey starts…

Their lyrics are a take on life, what they see – the duo sing in perfect harmony- a insanely talented pair be these two. And they have THOUGHT about not only their songs, but the stage set up, the visuals and videos on the screen to accompany the songs. So many times, we see acts who just turn up on stage – this package, with Difford & Tilbrook’s music and audience engagement, plus the cosy set and respect for the classic historic hall and acoustics,  has been well planned and thought out – and is a more than a pleasure to see.

‘Electric Trains’ accompanied by sepia train line journey on the screen, ‘Is That Love’ gets a big cheer, newbie from new album for Squeeze (from a forthcoming TV show) ‘A Beautiful Game’  clearly related to ‘the beautiful game’ as we get football on the screen – and goes down well. A song they wore for K.D. Lang – which she didn’t like ‘cos out was about boys – ‘Cowboys are my Weakness’ gives a video of plastic toy soldiers, doing things that plastic toy soldiers really shouldn’t be doing.

Between every few songs we have ‘the Man in the Golden Cape’ – quite literally – as Miles appears in the audience with a mike for audience members to ask questions.

“Are you cool for cats?” and the pair respond – chalk and cheese one likes dogs and the other cats. “What favourite lyric was inspired by real life?” “Let It Go” comes the answer.
“Madison Square Gardens or Birmingham Town Hall?” –  well that answer had got to be Birmingham Town Hall. Some questions are cheeky “How did Jools (Holland – former keyboards with Squeeze) become really rich and you didn’t?” – and Difford & Tilbrook respond, as they do with all questions, with candour, whit and respect.  Tilbrook’s ditched is recent beard (he now carries it around in a bag!)

Being touted as the ‘South London Lennon and McCartney’ made then pretentious for a while, but it became meaningless after a while – although a compliment. A punter tells Tilbrook his last solo album was brilliant – and he takes the full opportunity to cheekily plug it – it’s in the foyer – they’ll be signing after the gig.

And we get the classics –  ‘Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)’ (which a fan, when she was young though was about snogging – the guys don’y want to delude her innocent thoughts about what it was actually about), the first set ends with ‘Up the Junction.’ ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ is here too, and the hits keep coming ‘Tempted’ – and the video shows us fruit – cos hey we be “tempted by the fruit of another” and we sing.

Difford solo slot includes ‘Fat as a Fiddle’ (he eludes to his weight – up and down – out of cheesecake v gym – the cheesecake always wins…), ‘Wrecked’ about his youth when him and his housemate spent most the time, it appears, wrecked. Tilbrook gives us ‘Persephone’ – a song about a Victorian dressed burlesque dancer he met at a festival, who was , er, quite entertaining; ‘Ice-cream’ apparently written and performed in Birmingham in 1906 by his grand-dad – easy lyrics we sing it back and laugh. And as Difford rejoins him on stage – he’s asked what he’s been doing – “I’ve been been Ironing. My shirt. For tomorrow.”

And to conclude – we get an acoustic version of ‘Coooooollllll for Caaaats’ – we sing – and watch the video – made up newspaper cuttings for key word of the song and ‘dodgy’ archive footage of Squeeze.   Bt it’s not over – another newbie from the TV Series – apparent the title too – “From the Cradle to the Grave’ before the classic ‘Labelled with Love.”

Difford and Tilbrook gave us a thoroughly enjoyable gig tonight – they may be ying and yang, chalk and cheese – but this ‘At Odds Couple’ made us laugh, made us smile, made us sing – and gave us a compete package on their potted piece of history in a thoroughly enjoyable way.  There’s a few dates left on this tour – thigh many have already sold out. If you get to see em you are lucky indeed as this gig was certainly labelled and bottled with love. Thank you chaps.

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Pictures courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies and 102.5 The Bridge.

John Cooper Clarke + Mike Garry + Luke Wright @ Town Hall, Birmingham, 23 October 2014

Tonight we’re at the beautiful Town Hall in Birmingham, to see a full on punk-rock gig, with a twist. There is no music, no musicians, no instruments, it is the words that are the lyrics and the melody. Tonight we’re here for rock with words, the punk god-father of the satirical, the political and the scathing courtesy of Doctor John Cooper Clarke.
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Q Magazine’s Poet Laureate John Cooper Clarke remains as important these days,  as he was when he first burst onto the scene in a blaze of vitriol in the ‘70s. Thanks to his biting, satirical, and overtly political verse, delivered in a unique rapid-fire performance style, he became firmly entrenched in the punk movement and toured with the likes of The Sex Pistols and The Clash, while Joy Division and subsequently New Order supported him.

Now armed with an honorary Doctorate of Arts, he brings his treasury of punk poetry and two ‘up and coming’ poets – Luke Wright and Mike Garry – for the holiest of punk poet trinities.

Up first Luke Wright takes to the stage – giving us manic, quick fire poetry. He claims he’s  “a stay at home dandy” – he’s been out on his tour in the Autumn with ‘Fat Dandy.’ A poet and sometime broadcaster he writes a new shows each years and touts it round the country – not as some claim he says to “take poetry to the people” but because it pays his mortgage – and he loves it!  He tells us he met  Lenny Henry, asked him if he was stating in a Premiere Inn – response – “Of course not!” Henry didn’t get the irony and quick witted comedy of Wright in that one. He’s books and CDs – well worth checking out – find out more on his website.

Next up - Mike Garry – he’s from Manchester. His poetry is observational, ranting and a raving and social commentary. And he’s fast – the poetry is the rhythm of his music – the ability to recant the lyrics of his poetry at speed with no reference is pretty incredible and mesmerising to watch. He loves Birmingham. And gives us a poem about a s**t club – the Embassy – and the characters that are there, their lives are maybe what they may seem to be. He’s impressing himself here – and now for a sonnet –  another look at societies throw away attitude – ‘Pay As You Go.’ He’s here with books (a merchandising plug – he be there after his act)  and as one falls off stage he tells us not to knick it. He’s a good as stand up comedian as talented poet, next one to the local Manchester legend Tony Wilson – written after his death and performed with New Order. ‘Antony H Wilson’ another social look on life and Wilson’s impact – and the words take on the alphabet letter by letter – clever and emotive. Birmingham is beautiful, although he’s less complimentary about local councils, and at the end of his set he will jump off the stage – “un-risk-assessed”. “Have you been involved in an accident….” a satirical take on the adverts we see on TV, before a poetry eulogy to his mother who died. Funny but sad too – and we feel.

And now to THE main man. The Godfather of punk poetry – Doctor John Cooper Clarke. “Evening. ” He’s the chairman of the board, dressed in top to tail in black, blackened hair spiked, darkened glasses.

He got here late, he tells us, he’s gonna read ‘the Guest List’. “Would it kill ‘em to buy a ticket?” he quips and leaps into a fast paced rendition of everyone he knows, names rhyming. Apparently Birmingham is an ‘Atomic City.’

And tells of ‘generalisation’ ( we all do it),  which comes with two other important factors ‘Prejudice’ and ‘Judgement’ – a three pronged trilogy. And poetry to recant in full on observational vitriol as only Dr Clarke can do – “Get Back On The Drugs You Fat F**k” . He’s funny and whitty and fast paced and flies off at tangents – continually challenging, asking questions, pointing out the bleeding obvious. “Dr. Clarke how did you get here?” on birth and life and how he got here rather than the car he travelled in, before he leaps into ‘Hire Car.’

A punter’s question to “Is there a God?” doesn’t get the straight answer, but a tangent circle of responses. As he says “the public are in charge – the public is the governor” as he gives us the old and new in his poetry treasury – including his love story in reverse “T**t!” And his poetry can be two lines, limericks, sonnets, Hiaku or the long ones. He’s the “peoples balladeer; the high court judge” in newbie “The People’s Republic of Doktor Klarke.”

From is back catalogue ‘Beasley Street’ – a real life place and it’s social life, plus a an update to the way the place has changed ‘Beasley Boulevard’ – all ‘Urban Splash!’ Irony, and observation – on ‘golf audiences’ and age. “Age. The silent killer” – he’s been around our entire lives, before “Bed Blocker Blues.

He’s been experiments with Hiaku – poems of 17 syllables. he has a list and number 1 will be the final he reads to us. “Smarter than I have ever been, total idiots. I have met them all.” And his number 1. “To freeze the moment in seventeen syllables is very diffic…”

And he completes with his personal favourite – the classic ‘Chickentown’ – used in the penultimate episode of the Sopranos. When played on the BBC in ’78 the bleep operators got repetitive strain injury. Before thanks to the Arctic Monkeys, who closed their critically acclaimed album AM with a version of  ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ which we receive the Doctor Clarke version – in it’s full and scathing and dark glory.

This trilogy of social commentators were tonight, funny and witty, scathing with vitriol, yet caring and thought provoking.  The good Doctor was mesmerising in his words the hour and a half set whizzed by, with that inherent knack of making people laugh.  Doctor Clarke – part poet, part stand up. And still relevant.

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Pictures courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies and 102.5 The Bridge.

World Premiere: A Time and Place: Musical Meditations on the First World War @ The Town Hall, Birmingham, 17 September 2014

This year marks the centenary of the start of the First Word War. 100 years ago in a totally different world, that it so many ways we can’t relate to.  The first mass produced cars (by Ford) only started in 1914, the telephone (as in landline) was still new technology, radio even newer and the first national broadcasting service – the BBC was 8 years away from formation. News was through newspapers or cinema screenings. But the very real human stories of the time still resonate today and tonight are shown through a powerful musical project: – A Time and Place: Musical Meditations on the First World War.

British folk singer Sam Lee (whose 2012 album Ground Of Its Own garnered a Mercury Music Prize nomination for Album Of The Year) undertook extensive research for A Time And Place earlier this year by discovering wartime songs and stories from rural communities in the south-west of England. Sam’s joined on stage at by north-eastern singer-storytellers Rachel and Becky Unthank – who have set new music to First World War poetry and more – along with band-mate Adrian McNally who has arranged all of the above for an 11-piece ensemble including string quartet and brass.  And all this takes place in Birmingham’s 180-year old Grade I listed Town Hall. And if this wasn’t enough – this performance will take place against the striking visuals from Birmingham video designer Matthew J Watkins (Gorillaz, Beat13, Live_Transmission: Joy Division Reworked).

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As we take to our seats birdsong and country sounds play out over the speakers, dry ice wafting gently over a backdrop of three tombstone shapes, on which there is projected a beautiful sunset sky. You can even hear bees buzzing around. It eludes peace in the beautiful setting of the Town Hall. And as the lights go down, the ‘camera’ drops from the sky to the ground and a cave, and the musical cast take to the stage. Tonight’s music is traditional folk inspired, and as the trio of singers chant cathedral windows rise across the screens. “We’re here because we’re here…” goes the chorus. And then a voice, an old woman relates the how boys from her town were taken to war. She asked one boy after the war which village he came from. He didn’t like to say. He was the only one who returned. He couldn’t face the others’ mothers. A staunch and poignant thought – how could we relate today if only one of the men from our village returned from such a war?

The performance is already beautiful, perfect balance of imagery, vocals, musicians and the poetry and words from that moment in time. This song’s theme is about enlisting, the naivety of what young men and boys were walking into – today – social media and 24/7 news would give us a damn good idea. But then? They really didn’t have a clue of the horrors that would unfold. ‘Bideford Bridge’ relates the stale of enlisting and the journey to the trenches – with the chilling end of chorus line “but all of them died in the May.” And then a song with an occasional drumbeat as the men are sucked into the trenches.

And a mention of Empire. In 1914 the  British Empire covered 1/5th of the World population at the time – over 450 million people. And those people too were sucked into the War – not only across Europe but across the World as the British and German Empires fought over territories. Another song – a mother’s epilogue to a fallen son “rotting in No Man’s Land…” as she remembers bathing him as a young child.
‘Bold Privateer’, a Devonian song, is sung beautifully. ‘Wargirls’, quite upbeat, about the women taking on the responsibility of tackling jobs once done by the men – a moment in time as the world began to change for women as a whole. And then a haunting song, as The Unthanks are joined by another woman from the ensemble to give us ‘Socks’ – a song of hope –  as they pray that the men will survive.
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The we have a two parter if you like. A soldier, Roland, writes to his sweetheart whilst in the trenches. He seems to know his fate and encourages a brighter future for her and that she should move on. And then his sweetheart, Vera, writes back, a poignant response for this brighter future. Within a month of writing his letter, Roland was dead. He died in 1915. And their words are projected onto the screens behind as this emotional song is recounted.

And a quick breather and a break as we take in the stories we have heard.

As we take our seats for the second part, the birdsong is ringing out once more. And then as the ensemble take to the sage Lee conducts the strings in a musical disarray of the meltdown of war. Another song: comments from a “simple soldier boy” on his experience in the trenches.”Breakfast whilst shells scream overhead….” and then the bugle sounds. A call to go ‘over the top’.

‘Everyone Song’ is about the Christmas Day cease fire…. the briefest of reliefs from the distraction of the trenches; birds are flying, the song is soaring, the hope, the escapism, before it all melts away…. ‘They’ll Never Come Back’,  a modern day song by Tim Darling (New Rope String Band) , is as dark as it is serious.

Lee tell’s us when the time comes join in. We recognise the tune, sung beautifully, but in German. And now in English. And then we sing…”Keep the Home Fires Burning, While your hearts are yearning. Though your lads are far away, They dream of home….”

And then to the final song of the night. It’s Spring 1919. The war is over. The heroes return. They have memories to smother as they transfer from war to peace. And poppies appear on the screen. The flowers that remembers the generation of men and boys who died in the blood-soaked fields of the First World War.

The performance ends as we hear the old woman over the speakers once more.
“I hate war.
“I hate war.
“But I admire the soldiers.”

And we leave the screens are covered by little white crosses. In memorial to the millions who died needlessly in a terrible war.

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A Time and Place presents new material inspired by personal stories and arrangements to First World War poetry alongside original repertoire from the time against striking This event is funded by Arts Council England and PRS For Music Foundation and is part of the Imperial War Museums First World War Centenary. It’s  co-produced by sounduk, Barbican and Opera North in partnership with Town Hall & Symphony Hall.

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Pictures courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies and 102.5 The Bridge.

WORLD PREMIERE: A Time and Place- Musical Meditations on the First World War at the Town Hall, Birmingham

And as we reflect on the centenary of the First World War, a powerful new music project featuring Mercury Prize folk artists Sam Lee, Rachel and Becky Unthank will receive its world premiere on Wednesday 17th September at Birmingham’s Town Hall.

This project,  co-produced by sounduk, Barbican and Opera North in partnership with Town Hall & Symphony Hall,  is an incredibly powerful performance that marks the centenary of the First World War by connecting the creative landscape of wartime England circa 1914 to contemporary Britain in 2014.

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A Time and Place presents new material inspired by personal stories and arrangements to First World War poetry alongside original repertoire from the time against striking visuals from Birmingham video designer Matthew J Watkins (Gorillaz, Beat13, Live_Transmission: Joy Division Reworked). This event is funded by Arts Council England and PRS For Music Foundation and is part of the Imperial War Museums First World War Centenary.

British folk singer Sam Lee, whose 2012 album Ground Of Its Own garnered a Mercury Music Prize nomination for Album Of The Year, undertook extensive research for A Time And Place earlier this year by discovering wartime songs and stories from rural communities in the south-west of England.

Sam will be joined on stage at Birmingham’s 180-year old Grade I listed Town Hall by north-eastern singer-storytellers Rachel and Becky Unthank - who have set new music to First World War poetry and more – along with band-mate Adrian McNally who has arranged all of the above for an 11-piece ensemble including string quartet and brass.

Following this world premiere, the show will continue in London and Leeds. This event will surely bring history, creativity and talent into one unique experience. For more information visit The Town Hall & Symphony Hall website.

Follow the performance on twitter: #timeandplace

 

Belinda Carlisle + Gabe Lopez @ Town Hall, Birmingham – 13 May 2014

One time member of one of the most successful American female bands of all time and pop icon in her own right; this singer is returning to the UK on a 7 date mini-tour which starts off tonight in Birmingham’s Town Hall. Following the recent chart success of new single ‘Sun’, one time Go-Go and pop goddess Belinda Carlisle is here tonight to give us a clue as to whether Birmingham is indeed heaven.

Carlisle started out as a punk drummer before founding The Go-Go’s with Jane Wiedlin. The Go-Go’s went onto become one of the most successful American bands of the early 1980s, helping usher new wave music and becoming the first all-female band in rock history to ever achieve a number 1 album with their 1981 multi-platinum debut, ‘Beauty and the Beat.’ When the band split in ’85 nothing was stopping Carlisle and she embarked on a solo career and a succession of successful hit albums beckoned. ‘Heaven on Earth’ made top 5 in the UK charts featuring international hit singles ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’, ‘I Get Weak’ and ‘Circle in the Sand.’ Carlisle has subsequently released 7 solo albums and this year sees the release of her greatest hits, ‘The Collection’, featuring a couple of new tracks including ‘Sun’ her first single in nearly 17 years.

Tonight’s audience is an eclectic mix of avid fans from a mixture of backgrounds – a few keen and enthusiastic individuals keen to catch up with her after the gig at the stage door.

But they will have to wait a little as first up on stage is American pop-rock singer/songwriter Gabe Lopez. “Who is this Californian Gabe Lopez and why is he in Brum?” He asks us, before telling us he’s of Mexican and Irish descent and is here because he co-wrote and produced Carlisle’s new single ‘Sun’ and she invited him on this mini-tour. It’s his first time in the UK (he doesn’t get out much!), the first time he’s played live to a UK audience and he loves us.

Lopez is solo on stage, with backing track, electric guitar and a rising and unique voice – he starts off with ‘Summertime’ which is initially just vocals before turning all pop-rock dance. He has an album on pre-sale entitled ‘It’s Obvious It’s Obvious’. Catch it now, while it’s cheap, he tells us. This set is a mixture of pop-rock dance and ballads – including his take on U2‘s ‘One.’ He’s a happy soul, engaging with true vocal talent – check him out online or catch him on this tour.

Quick break and we pop to the various bars in the Town Hall before taking our seats (it’s a full house tonight) for pop iconBelinda Carlisle. Big cheer as she takes to the stage, the seated stalls crowd are already on their feet. She has a six piece full band with her and tonight’s ride starts off as she’s into ‘Runaway Horses.’

“Hello Birmingham…” as the lyrics sing out to the next pop hit: “We dream the same dream, we want the same thing…. Oooohhhhh…” we sing. It’s been around a decade since she played Brum and since then she’s released a couple of singles she tells us. It was her son that found her recent song and she acknowledges her support act and talent Lopez that gave her recent hit ‘Sun’, which with support from Radio 2 made the top 40. Carlisle is mid-fifties, but looks a damn sight younger and fitter than her years, as we’re into another hit: ‘I Get Weak.’ The crowd are here for the hits and that’s exactly what she’s here to give us: sing along to ‘Circles in the Sand.’ Some tracks she hasn’t played live before or for a while – ‘Valentine’ was first aired during an Australian tour in 2013. We bop along to the hispanic inspired ‘La Luna’ – while ‘Goodbye Just Go’ is clearly Carlisle taking out her anger at her man.

Back to upbeat ‘Summer Rain’ and then we clap along with her for ‘Big Scary Animal’ – though neither of those appear to be in sight. And those hits keep coming – ‘Leave the Light On’ – everyone’s dancing, going back to those 90s heydays. And then we all join in…  ‘Live Your Life Be Free.’

Just over an hour and we’re into the encore ‘A Woman and a Man’ which gets our feet a-tapping and our heads a-bopping and for some in the audience, true over-exuberant dancing. And now for a mixture of Edith Piaf meets Grace Jones as we get her take on ‘La Vie En Rose’ all danced up.

“You might know this song.…” as it starts off acoustic….. And we sing along with the first verse before we’re into the full live version. ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth.’

There are many die-hard fans here tonight, who have travelled quite a way to see their beloved Belinda. They are gonna be waiting at the stage door for her. Carlisle is very professional and  clearly enjoying the first date of this small tour; these days there’s no need for big tours  – she’s been there and done that. Nicely sized venue to enjoy herself and showcase her long repertoire of songs to her loyal fans. So did Birmingham live up to their expectations? For them it clearly was indeed – Heaven on Earth.

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Setlist:
Runaway Horses
(We Want) the Same Thing
Sun
I Get Weak
In Too Deep
California
Circle in the Sand
Valentine
La Luna
Vision of You
Goodbye Just Go
Summer Rain
Big Scary Animal
Leave a Light On
Live Your Life Be Free

Encore:
A Woman and a Man
La Vie En Rose
Heaven is a Place on Earth

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Review for Gig Junkies; pictures Ken Harrison

Heaven 17 @ Town Hall, Birmingham UK, Friday 14 February 2014

So on this Valentine’s eve, storms are plummeting the UK but in Brum the weather isn’t too bad, although traffic out of town doesn’t look the best. But that’s okay cos we’ve been tempted –  we’re in town and we all be snug and cosy in Birmingham’s Town Hall for an evening of romance, Heaven 17 style.

Indeed Heaven 17 have a back story. Inspired by the godfathers of electronica Kraftwerk, two members of the Human League, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh walked away and formed a band / production company B.E.F. (British Electric Foundation). Initially recording music under the guise of B.E.F., they subsequently recruited photographer Glenn Gregory on vocals and eventually became Heaven 17. Now it is just Gregory and Ware, accompanied by two lasses on vocals and Berenice on supporting keyboards. And no support tonight and we’re told they’ll be promptly on at 8pm and off after an hour and 10. Early night for us then. It’s about half full in the beautiful Town Hall, if it be a tad austere. So it’ll be interesting, to see if Heaven 17 can deliver in such a venue, especially that all that is on on stage, against the black- clothed backdrop, are two keyboards and four mike stands.

Cheers from the crowd as Ware, then Gregory in dapper suit, takes to the stage. First up League song ‘Circus of Death’. This is Heaven 17’s first gig of 2014 (although Ware quips that Gregory still thinks  it’s 1981 or earlier). The beat delivers us next ‘known’ track (given that when it was originally released, at a time when most kids listened to Radio 1, DJ Mike Read effectively banned it due to its left wing lyrics.) ‘Fascist Groove Thang’ comes across great live; Gregory’s voice is still strong, deep and sultry. There is no ‘set’, no exotic lighting or effects –  just these guys performing. They are indeed be great live (I’ve seen them before) but not sure this is the best venue for them especially given as we’re seated.  But even up here in the dizzying heights of the Circle, people are on their feet and dancing as we’re into ‘Crushed by the Wheels of Industry.’

Gregory quips that he was learning lyrics on the way here, as they deliver ‘Play to Win.’ Most the crowd are on their feet now and the atmosphere is indeed beginning to permeate through the venue. “Don’t sit down again….” Gregory orders the crowd in a friendly way, as they deliver us ‘Geisha Boys and Temple Girls’. And now another early League track, ‘Black Hit of Space’, as Ware gets to play with his theremin (as he moves his hand between the electronic antennas we get a spooky Dr Who-like effect).

We’re promised they’re writing a new album  which may be with us by the end of the year (but maybe not it’s been a fair few years since the last new release). The band explain that its like a creative love fest, without the sex. “It’s like being married then..” shouts an audience member.

‘Let’s All Make A Bomb’ is followed by the sultry and smoozy ‘Come With Me’; a great rendition that goes down well. Happy Valentines indeed Birmingham.  Next track, we feel like we are waiting for aliens to land, and electronica (plus the theremin) gets noticeably spooky, bizarrely this is ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’; Gregory’s vocals are incredibly powerful against the electronic backdrop. He’s accompanied by Ware (who’s vocal may not quite match the power of his colleague). “He’s my Valentine…”  – Gregory points to Ware and we all laugh.

And next up a track that ‘kills’ Gregory every time he performs it live ‘We Live So Fast’, which indeed cranks up the pace  faster and faster… ‘I’m Your Money’ accompanied by a joke that it was written last week, as they’re living in the present and not thirty years ago.

Bowie’s ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ – Gregory’s powerful vocals cover one of the legend’s tracks, however it lacks the powerful bluesy guitar of the original. Interpreted pretty true to the original,  it would have been nice to see the guys play around B.E.F. style  Then Ware’s and Gregory’s favourite Heaven 17 song ‘Let Me Go’, before the 12 inch mega house-influenced remix, with a bit of ‘Love to Love You Baby’,  that is their classic hit ‘Temptation.’ It very nearly blows the roof off.

Quick break and they’re back, “Let’s keep put in the party mood…” as Heaven 17 deliver us ‘Penthouse and Pavement’. Next song dedicated to the local club night where they’ve PA’d –  ‘Only After Dark.’ Clap. Clap Clap. Clap. Listen to the voice of Buddha, we are indeed as we’re into the League’s ‘Being Boiled.’

The set thankfully was longer than anticipated – Heaven 17 gave us 1 hour and 35 of their time. I’m not sure this is the best venue for them –  they are more suited to a more intimate, club type venue where we can all get down and party. And indeed they gave us some stand out tracks tonight ‘Come With Me’, ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’ and ‘Temptation’ very possibly the stand out. Bit more of a mixed set than I’ve seen before but still a good punt. They will be out over the summer in the 80s ‘Rewind’ festivals and, if they get their act together, I would suspect will be back with their new album in tow. Be tempted.

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Setlist
Circus of Death
We Don’t Need This (Fascist Groove Thang)
Crushed by the Wheels of Industry
Play to Win
Geisha Boys and Temple Girls
Dive
Black Hit of Space
Let’s All Make A Bomb
Come Love With Me
You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
We Live So Fast
I’m Your Money
Boys Keep Swinging
Let Me Go
Temptation

Encore:
Penthouse and Pavement
Only After Dark
Being Boiled

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Listening:
Heaven 17 – The Luxury Gap (1983)
BEF  – ‘Music For Stowaways’ and ‘Music Of Quality And Distinction Vol.1’

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Review for Gig Junkies; Pictures by Ken Harrison.

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