Sounds November 1979

Garry Bushell

HAIRCUTS, HAIRCUTS everywhere and 70p a drink.

Usually, the Lyceum resembles an ashtray with music, but tonight it's more like a failed barbers convention. Everywhere is hair. Birdnest hair, hair in massive quiffs that stand out a foot in front of the forehead, hair shaped like a unicorn's horn... One guy had half his face totally hidden by a drooping Hilter-style side parting, and I don't blame him. If I had a face like that I'd have it curcumcised.

With the hair came the laquer - huge clouds of stinging ascaped hairspray that made the Canadian poison gas cloud seem like a breathe of fresh air, that sent your reporter hitting the deck for his own safety, and that, had it escaped, would probably single-handedly destroyed the atmosphere's ozone layer.

From my vantage point on the floor I could study the the clothing of the hairy ones - all sort of Benny Hill pisstakes of Bowie 'modernisms': stripey shirts and Rupert Bear check trousers or bags so immense that you could comfortably fit three streets of Irish therein.

Thus does this year's other youth trend await the future; posing and pressing while applauding Public Image records and other stark and stilted post punk spin-offs...

...In contrast (to Teardrop Explorers) the Human League's Phillip Oakey boasted an immaculate haircut: left side short, right side dangling at shoulder length - a brave experiment from which he'll probably never fully recover and will be forced to wander the world with head at 45 degrees for the rest of his natural born.

On the music / Visual front things have got very pie and mash but I'm afraid the novelty value's worn well thin. I felt like I was watching a documentary withthe sound off and the radio on, trouble was their 'mutant pop' has frankly, developed in a very disappointing direction. They played half a ton of newies which bragged and sagged in the same old sorry bag of the dullies in the old set while the real sparklers - true mutant pop like 'Empire State Human' and 'Rock 'n' Roll' - were held back for the encores.

Personally I reckon the League's pretensions are just window dressing and that potentially they have the wit and pop appeal to out-sell the neutered newt Numan who they already outstrip on all enjoyment fronts, but tonight's sad performance left me wondering if they'd blown it.

On the way out I met Zarki searching for K's genitals. He said that the Human League were going into films. I said it was funny how much like sarky his name sounds. He had a real beaut of a barnet though.


NME November 1979 new

Adrian Thrills


The Human League are a quartet whom shunt between-song raps with the audience as a rule, but their underlying dry humour could not resist the temptation to have a poke at he cancellation of their British tour.

“We’re really tired after our nationwide tour” droll vocalist Phil Oakey informed the gaggle of synthesizer symphathisers who gathered to see the band at the Lyceum. “The other date was really hectic”.

But, enigmatic as ever, the League gave no hints as to what direction their planned ‘re-programming’ would take. Two things, however, were certain: this was the last time we would see the group in their present format, and the immenent changes are indeed much needed ones.

While their success in injecting some wit and accessibility into the po-faced genre of electronic music has been a vital and influential one, their gigs over the past year have become increasingly sterile and predictable.

Since I first saw them supporting The Rezillos last year, the changes had been minimal – a few songs here and there but none of the radical steps forward that they once looked set to provide.

The Lyceum show followed a well-worn path and compromised all of the ‘Reproduction’ album plus a couple of new songs in the same mould. Their sound was fuller and heavier than before, but the ever-present backing tapes – necessary as they are – still left little room for improvisation.

The only departure was in the use of video.

Slide-man Adrian Wright now operates his projectors from the stage itself instead of hiding somewhere in the wings. And why not? If someone is making such a vital contribution, he deserves to be put where he can be seen by everyone. This gig also saw the introduction of cine-flim for the first time.

“Another Human League first” Phil Oakey cruelly sniggered.

Against the criticisms, it must be reiterated that Oakey and Martyn are both fine singers with excellent control and expression and they combine devastatingly to provide the soaring harmonies on ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’.

But taken as a whole, this set proved that the re-furbishing cannot be too soon in coming.