I’ve been going to Human League concerts regularly for 20 years, and they’ve never failed to be a great live draw. Given they have at the very least an all-time classic album (“Dare”) to draw on for songs, that is bound to help. Like the other guaranteed-to-be-brilliant 80’s synthpop act Pet Shop Boys, there’s a delicious irony that they’ve outlasted most of the guitar bands of that time (and a lot of other big pop acts) by turning into live performers as the primary way of making a music biz career last for 30 years. When synth acts first came out they were sniffed at as not being “proper” live acts, well, turns out they are!
Phil Oakey, remarkably, is still cool. He dresses cool, he acts cool, he sings cool. You wouldn’t think he was over 50, and the two reliable former schoolgirl-popstars, Susan and Joanne continue to provide great support at either side of him. The new stuff sits comfortably with the classic (from album “Credo”) and full marks for not using the concert as a giant plug for the new album, like some other annoying stars do to the point of tedium. To do the whole album (of any popstar) the material really should be topnotch if you already have a great back catalogue, which, let’s be honest, paying punters want to hear.
In terms of previous gig comparisons, my fave was probably the Greatest Hits tour, purely because they had time for even more great oldies. If I had one criticism this time, it’s for the lighting – try and avoid being upstairs to the side of the stage cos you just get blinded and can’t see what’s going on with all the spots before your eyes. I moved to a vacant seat elsewhere and it was fine. Tellingly, this is the first all-seated concert they’ve done in Bournemouth, as me and others now need to sit down for at least part of the concert. The 70’s and 80’s generation have reached that certain age, I’m afraid. If I had advice for the audience, it’s the same advice I’d give to 20-year-olds as well as 50-year-olds: if you insist on recording “Don’t You Want Me” on your mobile phone en masse, please consider putting some anti-persperant on previously. And if you want to look cool by wearing a hat inside to hide your greying or balding head, please take it off when you stand up and block short-arse’s views – at least they have small chance of catching a glimpse of the stage, then!
Support band, French synthy act The Penelopes were OK, I particularly rated the manic instrumental they did, which came over a bit like The Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows” rhythm set to a Chemical Brothers “Setting Son” exciting dance style. I think it was called The Sweet Song (Fukushima Mon Amour). I also enjoyed the female British musician onstage asides and introductions to the audience, they were engaging.
So, my faves on the night? Roughly in this order…
1. Love Action (I Believe In Love)
2. The Sound Of The Crowd
3. Open Your Heart
4. Mirror Man
5. (Keep Feeling) Fascination
6. The Lebanon
7. Together In Electric Dreams
8. Don’t You Want Me
9. Tell Me When
10. The Things That Dreams Are Made Of
12. Night People
15. Heart Like A Wheel