Preston Today December 2004
WHO DARES SING?
New romantic 80s mania hit
Preston during a sellout performance by synth popsters, The HumanLeague.
The concert, at Preston Guild
Hall last night , attracted a mature crowd of pop fans.
But for two hours, they were able to step back 20 years in time and relive
He may sport a few more wrinkles than in his heyday, but front man Phil
Oakey paced across the stage with boundless energy.
Backing singers Susan Ann Sully - the "blonde one" – and brunette Joanne
Catherall attracted whistles from delighted men in the audience.
Oakey's enthusiasm provoked such a lively reaction from the crowd that one
concert-goer scrambled on to the stage to sing with him.
After opening the concert with Mirror Man, the Human League played some of
their trademark 80s numbers including Don't You Want Me Baby, The Lebanon,
Keep Feeling Fascination and the 1990s comeback hit, Tell Me When.
Devoted fan Chris White, 39, travelled from Rossendale to see the band for
the third time this year. He is such an avid fan that he made his wife
choose between the names Suzanne and Joanne when their daughter was born.
He said: "The last time I saw them they sang Electric Dreams. It was the
best feeling of my adult life."
The last time Angela Pumo went to see the Human League, she was wearing
legwarmers and sporting the latest fashion faux pas.
Now she is older and wiser, but it did not stop the 36-year-old letting her
hair down to dance to chart toppers Don't You Want Me Baby and Sound of the
She said: "I tried to copy Joanne Catherall's hair cut when I was younger
and ended up looking like Howard Jones.
"It is fun to look back at the 80s. It had a style of its own."
Ann Walkden, 41, of Faringdon Park, Preston, said: "It is a nostalgic night.
I think a lot of people will be reliving their youth, but fortunately I have
not seen anyone in legwarmers just yet!"
But Dominic Tandy, 39, from Blackpool could not resist putting on a bit of
colourful 80s makeup.
He said: "I have always gravitated towards bands like the Human League
because they are different and adventurous."
Preston Guild Hall has sported a host of 80s comeback concerts recently.
Stars like Blondie and Morrissey have taken to the stage to wow local people.
December 2004 new
There's a frivolous feeling of fancy dress tomfoolery amongst the, shall we
say, more mature members of the audience. They've bravely arrived in some
garish, kitsch outfits last seen in the heyday of the Human League era of
the 1980s. Well it is nearly Christmas, so for some the party atmosphere is
well under way with a family outing of ages ranging from 16 to 60 and the
Guild Hall is proud to welcome these synth purveyors of pop.
When the lights dim, the
anticipation is almost unbearable. A silhouette of the band can be seen
quite visibly and when the curtain drops we can see The Human League in all
their glory. While Phil Oakey's rugged good looks cater for the ladies, the
male contingent can swoon, worship and indeed appreciate the effortless
sensuality of the delectable divas who are Susanne Sulley and Joanne
Catherall. In fact all 3 members look as if they've been drinking from the
fountain of eternal youth. Oakey's once iconic hair style may now me a more
severe shaven headed dome, but with shades and confident strut, he is and
always will be eternally cool. Additional, but vital musicians provide
keyboards, guitar and percussion.
You couldn't begin with a better
opening song than "Mirror Man". There's an arty array of visuals and slogans
across the large screen on stage which differs from the low key backdrop
this time last year. Dramatic strobe lighting is used during the serious
polemic of "Lebanon", but it's still a show full of glamour when the girls
make a quick costume change, reappear in posh new frocks and perform their
own version of "Just Be Good To Me". Much more familiar is the beautiful
ballad "Human" and the electro delight that is "Love Action".
Phil Oakey moves with the grace
and vitality of a man half his age. His voice still has that commanding yet
welcoming resonance. "Don't You want me Baby" has thankfully not been
tarnished by that appalling TV commercial and tonight is updated for the
noughties, but is still the sing along favourite it's always been. Phil and
the girls may not say an awful lot, but their music speaks volumes. After
playing a superb version of his collaboration with Giorgio Moroder "Together
In Electric Dreams" he asks the audience is anyone saw the Human League
being name checked on The Mighty Boosh and has a boogie with an avid stage
invader. A fitting end to an outstanding show.