www.gaffa.dk July 2003

Peter Elsnab


It’s very rare that the audience, five minuted after the concert has ended, sings the same line again and again, even after the band has left the stage.

And it’s even rarer that the audience does it after a miserable concert.

But that’s what happened Saturday nightat the Midtfyns Festival Rhythm Stage, when the English synthpop-originals The Human League delivered a lousy, but funny concert. Again and again the audience sang “Don’t you want me baby – don’t you want me ooooohhh”.

The audience had to wait for 66 minutes for the opening-line “You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar / when I met you” from the Sheffield-band’s biggest hit, “Don’t You Want Me”. But that was enough to satisfy the 30 to 40 years old in the audience, that showed up to hail nostalgia and let loose the goofy celebrations.

But judging from the line up, the frontman Philip Oakey was moreserious about his music, than it just being a return to the end of the ‘70s and the beginning of the ‘80s and the New Romantics wave, when Human League were among the first, big international stars. The deadpan leadsinger without any trace of vocal power had brought with him a total of six backing musicians, including the two original, semi-dressed vocalists/gogo-girls, Susan Anne Gayle and Joanne Catherall. The machines were represented by electronic drums, laptop and two keyboards, that was operated by thin, black wearing dolmonites – one wearing a pink scarf over his sleeveless t-shirt.

In front of a back drop of black/white “parallel lines”, as on the cover of Blondies album form 1978, hits like “Love Action”, “Human”, “The Lebanon” and “Fascination” from the same period sounded much more outdated than the Blondie album. The music was pure retro with a sound like back when the technology behind the music in itself was interesting. But Human League anno 2003 has noting new to add and the celebration of their music can be compared to a sing-a-long down at your local kitsch-pub. Compared to the ongoing electrocclash-retrowave Human League has no importance. On the conterary, it was really embarrassing, when the vocals were dead out of tune and almost appeared like slap-stick, that bought out a smile in the audience.

The exceptions were the third – yes, the the third out of four – en cores, “Together In Electric Dreams” and naturally, “Don’t You Want Me”, which the approximately 1000 people in the audience probably still goes round humming. One star for the audicen and one star for the two hits.

(Translated from danish)