Heaven 17, Forum, London
Thursday 02 December 2010
"We don't need this fascist groove thang!" one veteran roars hoarsely behind me. The first song in Heaven 17's inspired recreation of their 1981 debut album, Penthouse and Pavement, 30 years after they split from the Human League, shows why it's better than nostalgia. Flimsy synth-pop revivals, from Fischerspooner to La Roux, have missed the music's urgent context.
Themes include right-wing American presidents, employment and unemployment, the widening gulf between rich and poor, atomic dread and dancing. Their future-present hasn't been outrun, only deepened its grip. Tonight sees a convergence of values between band and fans. "Penthouse and Pavement", about soul-healing dancing and the next working day, shows the rooted transcendence of pop written in Sheffield by would-be stars whose friends were laid-off steelworkers and miners. Martyn Ware's smoothly updated electronic soul music is massively aided by his singer. Glenn Gregory still has looks, body and moves as sharp as his suit, and convinced joy at being a pop star.
Gregory is the human element in the electronic implications brought out in a cover version of "Wichita Lineman", who hears his lover "through the wire". He also leads a cheeky strum through the Human League's post-split smash "Don't You Want Me", somewhat in the style of George Formby. When they move into the grander pop hits of The Luxury Gap, Ware's newly streamlined grooves show "Crushed by the Wheels of Industry" to be proto-house and "Temptation" sucks most dance music into it. The range of their era's pop is shown in a cover of The Associates' "Party Fears Two". This is synth-pop sung blue. Gregory doesn't attempt the late Billy Mackenzie's falsetto agonies, instead quietly drawing us into its fevered loss. They end with the League's "Being Boiled", which started so much that Heaven 17 have yet to finish.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
- 4 Exclusive: Cameron’s Big Society in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor 'wheel on people who have mental health problems' says comedian Jo Brand
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
Orange Is The New Black season 3: Pornstache isn't coming back
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss