Manchester Evening Standard December 2003

Paul Cockerton

AGAINST all odds, 2003 has been an extraordinary year for The Human League.
Rewind 12 months and the Sheffield synth-popsters were on the chicken-in-a-basket nostalgia circuit, belting out the same few songs each night.
Then their early single Being Boiled was remodelled into Liberty X's chart smash Being Nobody and dance musicians clamoured to remix and collaborate with them.
So The Human League are back on the cool list and last night they proved how little has changed since those early eighties salad days.
Phil Oakey still sang like a robot with soul and strode around as if his shirt had overdosed on starch.
Meanwhile, backing singers Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall looked identical to when Oakey recruited them as wide-eyed teenagers in a disco - both thinner than pipe cleaners, togged up in spangly dresses and occasionally straying out of tune.
Modest hits and flawed gems like Empire State Human, Tell Me When and Fascination were greeted with almost as much passion as the holy trinity of Love Action, Together In Electric Dreams and Don't You Want Me.
In between they managed to slip in ballads Human and Louise, transformed The Lebanon with a pulsating guitar solo and reminded everyone that Mirror Man could have been seismic at the Wigan Casino if it had come from Motown rather than Steel City.
The Human League's tinny keyboards may be less sophisticated than your average mobile ringtone, but they have still been responsible for some of the UK's most urbane pop music. December 2003 new

David Adair & Katherine Tomlinson

From the town to the country from the country to the town, join us come and join us, From the valley to the hillside from the hillside to the valley, join us, come and join us."

Phil Oakey along with stunningly dressed Joanne Catherall and Susanne Sulley, greeted the amicable crowd, as they meant to go on, and genuinely did want them to join in, from the punchy "Old Town" onwards, making the aforementioned lyrics ring truer than the fact that Shed Seven have finally split up. The crowd readily obliged as familiar sounds of "Love Action" rang through the cosy theatre venue.

The nostalgia fest continued with a hit soundtrack to the eighties, "Mirror Man" and political offering "The Lebanon" before the mood was quietened down a little for Susanne Sulley's solo, "One Man in My Heart" to which the dancing ended, and arm swaying started, whilst the crowd looked on admirably.
Back to the eighties with hit single and inevitable sing along tune, "Human," and infectious offering, "The Things That Dreams Are Made Of." More nostalgic sing-a-long material in the form of "Fascination" and upbeat "Tell Me When," before the one everyone was waiting for, admittedly or not, "Don't You Want Me"which undoubtedly started the Christmas festivities, it won't be the last time you will hear it before the new year either.

With many of the hits covered, the crowd was left wondering whether an encore would happen, and what it would be, suddenly realising "Electric Dreams" was a sure bet for one song, and were left wondering about the other if there was to be one. A costume change later and the band was back on stage, as the crowd was proven right, with the opening chords to "Electric Dreams" rang out, instantly bringing them to life once more. This was the chance for new guitarist Nick Burke to shine, as he performed his own guitar solo, to a great reception. Wondering what the last song might be, the crowd was put out of their misery soon after, as the ending tune was the catchy sing-a-long "The Sound Of The Crowd" which described the reception perfectly. The Human League gave an energy and nostalgia packed show, full of favourites and new tunes to the lesser trained ear, the Christmas party feel really brought the place to life, and they are a band who has not lost their touch. December 2003 new

Nicholas Paul Godkin
The Human League have been together for well over twenty years. Unlike a lot of their contemporaries the Sheffield electro pop combo have never split up. They remain true survivors. The trio have just released a Greatest Hits album and headlined the 80s nostalgia Here And Now Tour a few years ago, but they're still relevant today. Liberty X used elements of the track "Being Boiled" on their "Ain't Nobody" bootleg chart smash and Gareth Gates pilfered from "Human" on his new album.

The eternally youthful Phil Oakey is still a commanding yet affable frontman, while his two disco dollies Jo and Susan look and sound like angels. The two women go through a few costume changes tonight and some of their outfits are out of this world. Truly sensational. The live set up is completed by a percussionist, keyboard player and guitarist. And the audience is like one large Christmas party revelling in the fun, excitement and sheer joy of it all. As the opening bars of "Love Action" reverberate around the venue, this blast from the past is the first of many hit singles performed tonight alongside "Mirror Man" and the less well known, but equally memorable "Louise" from their "Hysteria" album. The funky "Things That Dreams Are Made Of" is followed by the wondrous "Fascination". Phil reminisces about visiting the Apollo in the 70s to see Marc Bolan while his singers praise the hot spots of Manchester night life especially Canal Street. There are no surprises or unnecessary pyrotechnics, just a set of crowd pleasing songs. The Human League's most famous single "Don't You Want Me Baby" obviously receives the most applause despite it being used in a ghastly car commercial. "Electric Dreams" is bolstered by a strong vocal from Phil, lush harmonies from the girls, superlative synths and an axe wielding guitar solo.

For the encore they play "Sound Of The Crowd" which was recorded before Phil even met Jo and Susan. The ninety minute set flew by and you could tell The Human League had as much fun as their fans. Let's hope they return next year with a new album.