http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com December 2005

Carrie Mitchell
BACK in 1979, David Bowie praised a little known experimental pop act, saying: "Listening to the Human League is like listening to 1980."

He was right, of course. The Human League broke into the mainstream just a few months later on a wave of synthesizers and electronic beats, and they went on to become one of the biggest and most influential bands of the 80s.

Over two decades later, Bowie's words evidently still ring true, as legions of nostalgic fans turned out for last night's gig at the Usher Hall hoping to be transported back to those glory days when they had a floppy fringe to match frontman Phil Oakey's and dance steps to rival his sultry schoolgirl sidekicks Joanne Catherall and Susanne Sulley.

Support Hoboken, an electronic four-piece with a passion for the synth, prove an apt reminder of the League's continued relevance in the modern music scene.

And in this context, the unashamedly OTT opening, with the girls in skintight PVC and Oakey in overcoat and shades against a blinding backdrop of garish lights, passes as retro rather than simply naff.

The electro-pop pioneers have lost none of their cutting-edge. In fact, other than Oakey's shaven head and Sulley's transformation into, well, frankly a bit of a footballer's wife look-a-like, they look and sound as good as they always have.

And with a back catalogue including fantastic hits like Don't You Want Me? and Love Action, the only way they could have gone really wrong was if they had forgotten the words - although, saying that, on a couple of occasions they did, but the crowd seemed to love them all the more for it. After all, they're only human.