Daily Echo December 2008
Paul Stevens


Iím steel standing

I REMEMBER exactly where I was when I first heard the Human League. It was in my mateís front room in Somerford after school. The album was 1980ís Travelogue and the standout track was Being Boiled. The decade was clearly going to be very different from its predecessor.

Clearly thousands of people felt as nostalgic as I did on Saturday at the BIC where the partying faithful gathered to hear three bands who broke out of the same city in short order and went on to dominate our world.

Heaven 17 had the unenviable task of warming up a crowd who had literally stepped in from the cold. It didnít take long. The industrial funk of Crushed by the Wheels of Industry, Penthouse and Pavement and opener We Donít Need this Fascist Groove Thing, counterpointed perfectly the beautiful pleading of Come Live with Me. And when youíve got a monster like Temptation to finish with youíve got no problems.

Frontman Glenn Gregory beamed throughout and was stunningly supported by two excellent backing singers whose opening bars of the closer were nothing short of spectacular.

ABCís Lexicon of Love is one of the most perfectly produced, silky-smooth, slices of pop perfection ever recorded. Sing The Look of Love and Poison Arrow to a crowd which knows every nuance and has learned every line and youíve got a magical set. Add later classic When Smokey Sings and new song Ride from this yearís Traffic album and itís hard to fault the slickest band of the í80s.

I always think the Human League are going to be harder and bleaker than they turn out to be. On paper not having a single acoustic instrument in your line-up sounds, quite literally, harsh. But their songs are strangely anthemic and uplifting.

Founder Phil Oakey always looks faintly shocked that anyone would bother to turn out to see him, but always gives a good account of himself, his bass-heavy voice lending gravitas to the overly dramatic Lebanon but rising to the occasion with the sublime Donít You Want Me and ending with the magical Together in Electric Dreams, which in the hands of a lesser mortal would be embarrassingly kitsch but the League just make it the best feel-good, sing-a-long, encore a band could wish for.