LIVERPOOL  2008 REVIEWS

 

Liverpool Echo December 2008
Emma Johnson

 

IT was a subdued ECHO arena that greeted synth-pop heroes Heaven 17 last night.
Despite part of the 10,000-seater venue being curtained off to create a more intimate performance space, the combination of being first act up and the early starting time of the concert (7.30pm) seemed to have the band on the back foot.

 

Inadvertently the warm-up men for fellow Sheffield natives (hence the Steel City of the tour’s title) ABC and The Human League, Heaven 17’s Glenn Gregory and the girls battled through performing half a dozen of their biggest hits, including Geisha Boys and Temple Girls and Penthouse to Pavement, before rousing the chilly crowd with camp classic Temptation.

 

A quick re-arrangement of the stage and Martin Fry was up offering a 40-minute extravaganza of theatrical pop rock from the ABC back catalogue.

Featuring all the biggest hits from the catchy Poison Arrow and When Smokey Sings to the romantic All of My Heart, as well as more recent releases like Ride and played out with mega-hit The Look of Love, it was a flawless performance from 50-year-old Fry whose velvety vocals have not tarnished with age.

 

It would be almost 40 minutes before the evening’s headliners appeared but when the stage drapes finally dropped to reveal a stunning two-tier set with blinding neon backdrop there was no doubt who the night really belonged to.

 

Emerging like something from The Matrix, in sunglasses and belted coat, a surprisingly bald Phil Oakey opened with haunting 1981 hit Seconds before being joined by the band’s original female vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley, for Mirror Man. From there it was non-stop for 12 songs from hardcore new romantic – Empire State Human – to 90s pop –Tell Me When, with the only respite coming when the sound system failed briefly.

It could not spoil the performance though, and as the evening drew to an end with crowd-pleaser Don’t You Want Me and the uplifting Electric Dreams, it was easy to see why the electro-pop pioneers are still going strong.