The Brighton Evening Argus  15th December 2005

Human League, Dome Concert Hall, Brighton

Hailing from Sheffield with an exquisitely-fringed frontman, a dancing schoolgirl duo and some highly-creative makeup, they were synth pop's first international superstars.

Now a reformed and revitalised Human League are once more pairing infectious melodies with electronic rhythms and packing out venues across the world.

Eighties legend Phil Oakey tells us what has changed over the years.

On the image: "I still get an amazing amount of recognition. What I don't get is any admiration. I've never been a real womaniser but I know now that if I hang around in a bar no one will try to chat me up.

"When you lose your hair you can't really do the effeminate make-up. I do a little bit of mascara sometimes but mainly its trying to get the shine off my bald head.

"For the first time in my life, I'm getting into the suit and tie thing. I got a Westwood coat the other day that I really shouldn't have. I got it 'cos it was a slightly military green but it just looks grey under every other light than the one in the shop."

On the music: "We thought Don't You Want Me was a bit of a sell-out because we were a left-field group. Now people think we were doing anything we could to be a bit like ABBA but we were really an electronic Joy Division or The Cure.

"They were on the same circuit as us and we knew 'em, we just happened to use synths.

"Our manifesto was destroy all guitars. We didn't really mean that. But we wanted to make something solid that would stand up from a more intellectual point of view - less instinctive and more worked out. We were doing that before anyone else and I still think it can be fresh."


On the live v programmed debate: "Our first European tour was with Iggy Pop and people tore out metalwork from the toilets and threw it at us.

"Actually, I believe in live music - it's really inflexible to be all on tape or sequencer. I'd have everything live if I could but we can't quite afford the necessary eight or nine musicians.

"The reason people are going back to watching bands again is just the joy of seeing people play. Like we saw Arctic Monkeys the other night and it was just great. Actually it's one of the things that's made me proud to be from Sheffield lately."

On Joanne and Susan: "I first saw them dancing at a club in Sheffield and I asked them if they wanted to be in The Human League.

"They were up for it so I paid their parents a visit. I was trying to psych 'em out a bit actually, doing the full high-heels and makeup thing, but they're just Yorkshire people, they weren't phased.

"I just sat down and told them that it would be all right - because basically it was always going to be two fairly tough women in a bus with a load of pansies.

"Now Joanne's got a little boy and Susan's found herself a really nice boyfriend. So they're not coming clubbing much any more."

On their last visit to brighton: "We filmed our live DVD at the Dome. It's the first time in 20 years I've fallen over on stage. We've got this thing about having a stage that's different to everyone else's, so it has white vinyl flooring.

"We had a guy working with us back then who insisted on cleaning it every night with Jiff. I skidded and sprawled on the floor. I was pretty thin at the time and when I looked up I could see the audience thinking, ŽOh, that poor old man, I hope he's not hurt himself, I hope he can get up'."