The Shoreham Herald December 2008

Sarah Booker


SINGING along with all their hearts, the crowd at The Brighton Centre relived the joyous moments when they first heard the Sheffield sounds of The Human League, ABC and Heaven 17.

The three bands, who each had their first tastes of success some 27 years ago, sounded even better than they did in their youth, the only difference now is your mother wouldn't question their gender.

Heaven 17

First up at the concert on Friday, December 5, were Heaven 17, formed after the original Human League split in 1981, with Martyn Ware on keyboards, looking as though he'd come straight from the office, and a very fresh-faced Glenn Gregory.

The richness of Gregory's vocals was stunning as the band marched through the back catalogue rich with early 80s political references.

Finishing with Come Live With Me and Temptation, backing singer Billie Godfrey proved she possesses a fine instrument, hitting the high notes effortlessly.

Listening to Temptation 25 years after its first release, it's easy to see how its sound influenced early 90s dance music.


Next up were ABC, with Martin Fry eschewing the gold lamé for a tux.

I was surprised Shoot That Poison Arrow came so early in the set, as in my opinion it's ABC's finest tune.

However, as the show progressed there were calls for other hits and the final four songs didn't deny the fans.

Fry can certainly hold a tune and was note perfect through Tears Are Not Enough, All of My Heart, When Smokey Sings and the finale The Look of Love.

The Human League

Then it was time for the band we'd all been waiting for, The Human League.

They're one of my all-time favourites.

I can still remember my nine-year-old self being transfixed by the sight of a man with a weird haircut, performing alongside two teenage dancing girls, singing Sound of the Crowd on Top of the Pops.

How glamorous they were to me, the aspiring electro-loving kid who used to admire the teenage New Romantics standing outside Shoreham Community Centre as they waited to get in to the Monday night disco.

Phil Oakey doesn't have hair any more, choosing to shave off what's left, but this is the only concession to his 53 years.

When Oakey appeared on stage and sang the first line of Seconds, I felt the same tingle as the day when my then 33-year-old father brought home the album Dare, and I heard the track for the first time.

Then along came the girls.

Joanne Catherall and Susanne Sulley may be in their mid-40s now, but they look and sound just as they did in the 80s, albeit with better hairstyles.

They launched into Mirror Man, and crowd responded with the loudest sing-along I've heard in years.

The first two bands had warmed people up, and all the musicians looked as though they were enjoying themselves on stage, feeling the affection of the crowd and smiling as the lyrics were chanted back to them.

But The Human League took the singing was almost at football stadium levels.

The set was dominated by songs from the bands most commercially-successful albums, Dare and Hysteria, with a nod to Octopus for a fine rendition of Tell Me When.

It's difficult to feel disappointed at the lack of tracks from Crash, or the great – but mostly ignored – Secrets, when the band are belting out Love Action, The Lebanon, Louise, and Fascination.

From start to finish it was all killer, no filler, and the last song of the night had the words to sum it up, "we'll always be together in electric dreams".