Gig Reflections – Heaven 17/Blancmange – The Forum Kentish Town 13th Nov 2014.
Okay, so I know it’s been a couple of weeks… but honestly does that really matter in the context of time and matters of a Japanese dish of vegetables or seafood that have been battered and deep fried – Jim?
Truth be known, I didn’t realise I was going to submit a review. For that matter, I didn’t realise I was even going to attend the gig until about an hour or so beforehand! That was when it all started to happen…
Whilst making preparation for Thursday night’s ritual/spiritual practise, suddenly the peace was broken by the beep of an incoming message on the communicat-o-con 3000. Even now the disruption had begun to set in. Closer inspection revealed a request from Kate in Black and White for my accompaniment to her attendance at an evening of electronic entertainment provided by Heaven 17 and Blancmange. In an instant the mind was awash with memories and melodies of a past evoked by reflections of these two Iconic purveyors of Synth Pop. Who was I to attempt the futility of resistance? In a blur of transcendental motion I found myself side by side with KiB&W at a prime site for viewing the imminent entertainment…
Just then, two lab technicians took the stage, we had begun to speculate that they maybe priming the technology for the oncoming act, when in fact it turned out that they were the oncoming act! I never imagined I might find myself at a Blancmange concert but find myself here I did. And gratefully so! The sound was crisp and clear with nice sonic textures and deep bass. I don’t know much about Blancmange but they sounded great tonight. Regardless of my lack of knowledge on the matter, the highly infectious hit Living on The Ceiling was one of the evening’s highlights.
Then Heaven 17 arrived, (Professor) Martyn Ware fired up the Synths – kicking off with The Human League number Circus of Death and then straight into the fantastic (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang. The Prof, Glen Gregory and their troupe then proceeded to deliver (most deftly) a set of new and old material. A lone guitar on a stand stood forlorn and awkwardly out of place amid the banks of synthesizers, leading one to speculate as to the relevance of its presence here tonight. When all of a sudden mid-set Glen Gregory picked the thing up and strummed a rendition of the (Human League) hit Don’t You Want Me?…
Sound wise Heaven 17’s mix was not as rich as Blancmange, with more focus on the middle range of frequencies and less on the bass. Which, to these ears made for a pretty accurate representation of the groups recorded output.
Singers Kelly Barnes and Rachel Mosleh name-checked the amazing, Angie Brown who was present in the audience tonight, before doing full justice to closing number and crowd-pleaser -Tempation.
Heaven 17 returned to the stage once more, starting their encore with a decent interpretation of the David Bowie number Boys Keep Swinging.
On the opposite side of the stage to the guitar, stood a strap-on synth in uneasy symmetry. I turned to KiB&W and we pondered on this when, just at that very moment, the said instrument was donned by the delightful Berenice Scott for final number, the excellent Being Boiled. Which led to a modern variant on an old cliché:–
It ain’t over ‘til the Blonde lady wears a Strap on!
Conclusion: Most entertaining – Thanks to KiB&W and all involved.