Heaven 17/Blancmange

Waterfront, Norwich - 25 November 2017

"Martyn Ware is a genius"

Woke up in the morning with Since Yesterday by Strawberry Switchblade in my head, so had to play video on you tube or it would be stuck in my head all day.

Due to some diary mismanagement (by me) Saturday found me booked for a Charity Lunch in the City of London and a gig in Norwich on the same day. So it required a bit of logistical planning, so drove to the outskirts of London, then got a tube in, dined in very formal attire and then changed into something more appropriate to go to a gig in, to pick up car and hurtle up the M11 to get to Norwich.

Unfortunately due to an HGV overturning on the M11 it was closed so I got diverted down A12 and ended up passing about 300 yards from my house in Colchester on the diversion (so much for careful planning) as a result I arrived at the venue later than hoped, so could not get right to the front as I normally do, to take pictures, but is was a nice sized venue and an enthusiastic crowd.

Blancmange Waterfront Norwich 2017      Blancmange Waterfront Norwich 2017   Blancmange Waterfront Norwich 2017

Photos: L-R Blancmange (Neil Arthur) x3

First act was Blancmange (to my view they deserve to headline as Neil Arthur's performances have so much energy, fun and wit about them) and the music is always interesting. I have to say it is always a joy when well established bands play the old classics, but also new tracks, and this set did not disappoint, and I was so impressed with the new material from the Unfurnished Rooms album, that I had to purchase a copy which after a nice chat Neil kindly autographed for me.

The set list included a couple of unusual older tracks including a cover of ABBA's The day Before You Came and the b-side to Living on the Ceiling - Running Thin which has always been a track I loved - probably more than the a-side. That said, Living on the Ceiling was a highlight of the gig more for how Neil managed to engage the entire audience and get them singing the lead synth/sitar line, than anything else it sounded incredible. Tracks from the new album Unfurnished Rooms included Anna Dine and What's the Time? (which has some great lyrics).

Setlist: The Day Before You Came (ABBA cover), Unfurnished Rooms, Game Above My Head, What's the Time?, Waves, Don't Tell Me, Anna Dine, Running Thin, Living on the Ceiling, Feel Me, Blind Vision

If Blancmange had been the only act on the bill, I would have been content, but to add to evening we then had a performance by the magnificent Heaven 17.

The set started off with (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang and Crushed by the Wheels of Industry, and Glenn noted that these songs were sadly as relevant again today as they had been when originally written. The change then turned to a slightly happier note with Geisha Boys and Temple Girls, and a reference to their first Top of the Pops appearance (sadly rarely seen as presented by Jimmy Saville) of Play to Win, and then a couple of early The Human League songs A Crow and a Baby and a duet by Marin and Glenn of The Human League's cover of an Everly Brothers tune You've Lost That Loving Feeling, then back to more Heaven 17 tracks including We Live So Fast, Let Me Go, Come Live with Me and Temptation.

Heaven 17 Waterfront Norwich 2017      Heaven 17 Waterfront Norwich 2017      Heaven 17 Waterfront Norwich 2017

Photos: L-R Heaven 17 x3

Again they teased us with Pray a track from their long anticipated and still unreleased and unfinished new album. I should mention that the current line up of Martyn Ware (synth), Bernice Scott (synth and Piano) Glen Gregory, Billie Godfrey and Rachel Mosley on vocals is stunning. This was demonstrated by the encore which consisted of Bernice and Glen doing a tribute (form their work with Tony Visconti) to David Bowie of Life on Mars?, you have never heard such a reaction to the mention of the Norfolk Broads in that tune, than the one you did from the audience! The final track of the evening was the first track Martyn ever wrote Being Boiled.

Martyn Ware is not only a genius, but a very nice guy (my children had the honour of playing in his and Vince Clarke's sound shed when they were little - but they did not realise the greatness of the man who was encouraging them at the time). It is tribute to him that his work in the original Human League, Heaven 17 and with the British Electric Foundation have more than withstood the test of time and this was a great evening, that demonstrated just a part of that catalogue.

Finally, thanks to the two young ladies at the gig dressed in the style of Strawberry Switchblade, the day rounded off as it had started
. 9/10

Intro (B.E.F. ident), (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang, Crushed By the Wheels of Industry, We Live So Fast, Geisha Boys and Temple Girls, Play to Win, Come Live With Me, And That's No Lie, Pray, Crow and a Baby (The Human League cover), You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' (The Righteous Brothers cover), I'm Your Money, Let Me Go, Penthouse and Pavement, Temptation Encore: Life on Mars? (David Bowie cover), Being Boiled (The Human League cover)

Review + Photos: Mark Smith