Cardiff Western Mail
Wonders of Human League

Hannah Jones

AS a record executive on an advert once prophesied to a bunch of unlikely pop stars who wanted to make it big - you can't dance, you can't sing, you're going to go a long way.


He could have been talking about the Human League.


To give them their due the band- otherwise known as that bloke with the asymmetrical hair and those two girls in very little dancing like un-rhythmic robots in the background - were the original synthesiser band.


And when it came to putting out catchy songs, the public fell hook, line and synthesised sinker.


On the back end of punk they emerged from Sheffield to rise indolently into pop history as the band who invented computer pop.


They looked odd, sounded odder still and yet they created perfectly crafted four-minute wonders that banged on the door of the psyche and have refused to let go.


Who could forget the riff from Love Action and the way backing singer Susanne Sully moaned about being a waitress in a cocktail bar in Don't You Want Me.


"Can you imagine us doing a show and not doing Don't You Want Me," muses Sully.


"It would be impossible. I mean we've been doing it for years and can still go through the motions. It's part of our history."



Sully, on a round of interviews because main man Phil Oakey isn't feeling well, is promoting their appearance on the 1980s revival tour, Here and Now.


While it could be argued that there is something distasteful about legends reducing their hallowed status for cash, there's also something quite fabulous about hearing Oakey rap to Love Action one more time.


Sully is quick to defend the tour and their band's part of it. While other throwback "greats" such as Visage, Dollar and Five Star will be doing three numbers each, the Human League headline the UK tour with a respectable 40-minute set.


Sully feels "a little uncomfortable" with the "production line" element of the show.


"I'm not sure how that's going to feel with us. But when we go out on tour we always do the hits anyway and some of our other stuff.


"So because we've got 40 minutes we'll be sure to perform a few numbers. So from that point of view the performance side of it is something we will enjoy."


The members of the band remain as fiercely independent as ever.


"I can dance a bit now but you won't see any of us going to a choreographer or having a stylist telling us what to wear," says Sully. "We're a band who like to make mistakes and if we do we can always say they were ours. One thing you can always say about us, unlike lots of bands who came from the 80s and lots of those around now, is we never stopped thinking for ourselves.