COVENTRY 2007 REVIEWS
www.paper-jam.co.uk July 2007
I really was a bit too excited about this.
When I first got into them, I asked my dad (who's a librarian) to see if they had any Human League stuff in the library, and as you'd expect in Coventry, most of the popular stuff gets nicked, so the first album I heard was their first called "Reproduction".
Which really isn't the shiny, precise wedding-disco fodder that they are known for. Heavy, muddy, dirty, woozy - you can hear the grey-ness and fear of the Seventies leaking out of the grooves. When I first heard it, it made me feel ill.
Recently they've been on those 80s "Here and now" shows that seem to be a replacement for Gary Glitter now he's off molesting in Thailand, along with reformed gardener Kim Wilde and hoarse clothes horse Paul Young.
So it's the first day of Godiva Festival, now in it's tenth year, and we're in the big tent at the Memorial Park. The band comes on, and strike up in an ominous manner. One of them is strutting about with a keytar, which is ridiculous but strangely better than dancing behind a keyboard, which always looks shit. That's why dance maniac Chris Lowe had to have nails driven through his feet into the stage throughout the 80s.
Susan and Joanne come on, and wave their hands a bit - but crucially, the stage is massive and they're not too close together, so the lack of choreography isn't really a problem.
Phil makes a dramatic entrance dressed in a long coat and sunglasses, looking rather like a Bond villain doing an impression of Stevie Wonder, and he bombs into "Open Your Heart". And like a child who has suddenly realised how great Christmas is when the last big Lego set is unwrapped, it's all a bit too much for me and I'm fighting back the tears of joy. Shit.
Luckily no-one else seems to notice, so that's ok then, but I've rather blown the gaff now.
They proceed to knock out most of "Dare", including a searing "Things that dreams are made of", "Sound of the Crowd" and a version of "Seconds" that seems to go on for hours. There's also "Louise", which was the acceptable side of "Hysteria", and then the bloody "Lebanon" which ain't a favourite.
By this stage the coat has come off, and damn - Phil is looking exceedingly trim, grinning like a fool running round like a mad thing, dressed in some sort of quasi military-bondage trousers.
We'll skip the 90s horrors ("One Man in My Heart", "Heart Like a Shitting Wheel") - I had to work in at the record bar in Woolworths when "Octopus" came out, it felt wrong. At some stage they do the utterly useless "Human" with some relish, actually - and then Phil says afterwards "...that was a song by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis", as if to say - ain't nothing to do with us.
They finish the main part of the set with, well what do you know - "Don't You Want Me", and all the fleece occupants in the crowd go mental.
Encore pantomime is next, and it's tempting to start shouting out pretentious twat requests ("Dance like a star"! "Dignity of labour"! "Flexidisc"!), but it's satisfying enough to get the eerie Funkdelic-meets-Cabs pulse of "Being Boiled". Afterwards, Phil pipes up - "..and along the way, I bumped into Giorgio Moroder" and "Together in Electric Dreams" hits, and what a fantastic ending - it's not a favourite of mine, but live, as stadium disco it's massive.
Their Wikipedia entry mentions that they intend to record some new stuff, but if they're making a decent go out of playing live (...and that's the way things are going within the industry, surely?) then why not stick to it?
As it goes, the sound from from the first version of the Human League could be coming back - "Dignity of Labour" was underrated at the time, but it was pure loopy-proto-techno, and Dan Selzer played "Being Boiled" as part of his minimal synth/early Mute-style set for Beats in Space. There, that's almost a revival.
Apparently they intend to tour in December (*cough* Gang Show *splutter*) doing the whole of "Dare". I'll be the one going rave-glowstick-apeshit-mental to "Get Carter" played on a toy Casio keyboard, then.
Here's some fireworks to relax to. Ahh.