Ipswich Evening Star December 2004
THEY ARE A
BAND IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
YOU were queuing in a Chinese
takeaway in Sheffield - when I met you.
Pinching and adapting the
introduction to The Human League's number one single from the early 1980's,
Don't You Want Me Baby, is particularly appropriate for this reviewer.
For a quarter of a century ago, me - young reporter - met them - fledgling
electro-pop stars - as we waited for our sweet and sour and chow mein dishes
on Ecclesall Road, Greystones, Sheffield.
We exchanged pleasantries and moved off on our respective journeys -
reunited last night at The Regent in Ipswich for a night of high energy and
The Human League - The League to their adoring worldwide army of fans - have
lost none of the passion and raw talent which swept them to both the top of
the singles and album charts, from their home-town base in Sheffield.
In fact, they seem to get better and better and wowed a packed Regent, where
most stood, cheered and sang for most of the ninety-five minute set.
Philip Oakey has now adopted a Beckham-esque look and bounces around the
stage with a speed and agility the Real Madrid star would be proud of.
And then there's the girls, Susan Anne Sulley and Joanne Catherall, making
up the trio at the heart of the League. They looked fantastic, better then
ever and sounded fantastic. A genius Oakey may be, but where would he be
without the pair of schoolgirls he found dancing the night away in a South
Last night's show was a triumph for the seven-piece unit welded together by
Oakey. Youngster Nic Burke turned in a high-octave performance on guitar and
then shoulder-strapped keyboard. Neil Sutton and Rob Barton held the
"backroom" boys together well, on keyboard and percussion respectively. The
whole electro-show was orchestrated by programme manager Dave Beevers.
The show opened to Mirror Man, an old crowd favourite. The girls were
stunning in white - the first of three costumes for them on the night. Big
Phil was menacing in dark glasses and steel-grey trench coat - and singing
with the clarity and style which has taken him into a fourth decade of
concert-giving. Open Your Heart, from the classic Dare album, followed. Song
number three, Tell Me When, from the Octopus album, sent the crowd into
raptures and they surged to the front.
The band seemed to lap up the adulation on this, the fifteenth gig of a 2004
British tour - regularly praising the Ipswich audience, with just a hint of
their Sheffield (Sheff-fuld) accents coming through.
Highlights for me were Human, from the Crash album, The Lebanon, from
Hysteria and Electric Dreams, a joint Oakey and Giorgio Moroder production.
Described by many as "synth (electro) pop's first international superstars,
the Human League emerged in the late seventies with an innovative style
based on synthesizers and electronic rhythms.
They gained an amazingly loyal fan base and last night's programme tributes
underscored the point. "The Human League are the soundtrack of my life,"
said one. "They make me feel invincible, make me dance inside and give me
the biggest buzz in the world," said another.
So back to that lyric re-working that I began with ... Now 25 years on you
still have the world at your feet ... for many of us they still do. Thanks
for the memories, League, Suffolk is proud of you.