Mike Atkinson

The Steel City Tour (Human League, ABC, Heaven 17) – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, Wednesday December 3

Posted in gigs, Nottingham Post, Royal Concert Hall by Mike A on December 3, 2008

A tidal wave of Eighties nostalgia swept through the Royal Concert Hall on Wednesday night, as three of Sheffield’s most celebrated pop acts came together for the Steel City Tour. In happy contrast to the cost-conscious Here And Now packages, stylish stage sets had been constructed for all three acts, properly reflecting their art school roots.

Glenn Gregory’s broad, beaming smile never left him for a second, as Heaven 17 whipped through a well chosen selection of chart hits (Come Live With Me), cult hits (Fascist Groove Thang) and even a brand new song. Many of the tracks were subtly beefed up with contemporary dance rhythms, including an epic, show-stopping Temptation.

Bravely, ABC opted to include three songs from Traffic, their most recent album. These blended in well with their Eighties back catalogue, which included six selections from the classic Lexicon Of Love. Performing in front of a red velvet backdrop, a sharp-suited Martin Fry looked happy and relaxed, and sounded in as fine a voice as ever.

The Human League might be a nostalgia act these days, but their futurist tendencies still shine through. Their stage set was all clean white surfaces, retro-modern gadgetry (were those the remains of a vintage IBM mainframe?) and dazzling computer-animated visuals.

Like Glenn and Martin before him, Phil Oakey’s sturdy baritone placed him firmly in the “bellowing foghorn” school of Eighties pop performers. As ever, his commanding vocal presence was balanced by the endearingly unschooled voices of Susan and Joanne, whose occasional off-key wobbles merely added to their charm. Seemingly impervious to the normal aging process, 45-year old Susan vamped it up something rotten, flirting with the front rows and revelling in our attention.

The League’s hour-long set climaxed with the evergreen Don’t You Want Me, a properly arty Being Boiled, and a truly glorious Together In Electric Dreams.

Set list.

Heaven 17:
(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry
Geisha Boys And Temple Girls
I’m Gonna Make You Fall In Love With Me
Come Live With Me
Let Me Go
Penthouse & Pavement

The Very First Time
Poison Arrow
Show Me
How To Be A Millionaire
Date Stamp
Love Is Strong
All Of My Heart
Tears Are Not Enough
When Smokey Sings
The Look Of Love

Human League:
Mirror Man
Open Your Heart
Love Action (I Believe In Love)
Empire State Human
The Lebanon
The Sound Of The Crowd
(Keep Feeling) Fascination
Tell Me When
Don’t You Want Me
Being Boiled
Together In Electric Dreams

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