MANCHESTER 2006 REVIEWS November 2006

Rob Allen
WATCHING a fading electro superstar is like seeing last Christmasí must-have games console for sale on a car boot sale. What was the future is now cruelly consigned to the past, an analogy that could easily apply to Human League.

That is until you view them not as has-beens, but pop heavyweights with a collection of memorable hits. Only then does their appearance become reminiscent of a finely tuned vintage car, albeit with a dodgy '80s go-faster stripe.

Of all the bands of the decade, their catchy melodies relayed on dated keyboards and synthesisers ensured they were confined to the 1980s when they came to an end.

But it takes no time for everyone to suddenly be back in those lost years as they open their show with Love Action and the front row explodes into youthful life where they had previously sat slumped in middle aged sobriety.

Open Your Heart is next followed by Mirror Man and the venue swells with nostalgic awe and the aisles fill up with people refusing to sit still.


Phil Oakey clunks around the stage like a man being suspended on strings, appearing uncomfortable in a full-length leather jacket.

His strange, nervous, two-footed rocking later subsides as he warms up, then defies his advancing years by emerging James Bond-like in an immaculate grey suit.

Susan Ann Gayle and Joanne Catherall remain the most endearing element of Human League, plucked from obscurity from a nightclub dancefloor despite not having great voices.

Over 25 years later they still look fabulous and clearly have a great time performing.
Donít You Want Me Baby was an obvious closer to the set before the encore went one better with the charged anthem, Electric Dreams.

The years may have passed but a few of these songs undoubtedly remain timeless.