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Blancmange/Erics Live

Things fall into place for 80s fan Tom Palmer. Pictures: Keith Ainsworth

Written by . Published on November 15th 2013.

Blancmange/Erics Live

AT the start of the 1990s, there were a lot of people pronouncing how naff 1980s music was. But, as with many things in life, nostalgia and respect creep in for things long gone. 

I personally was always a defender of an enormous amount of 80s music. So in the mid 2000s, when the likes of Duran Duran and A-Ha started getting the credit they deserved, and filling arenas once more, it wasn't long before lesser known 80s acts started doing the rounds again. So none was more pleased than me when the news of Blancmange touring and also releasing new material was announced three years ago.

Long may artists of this calibre keep reminding of us of what a great period of music the 80s was

This is the the third tour in those three years that Blancmange have done, and i have witnessed them all. Blancmange were a duo, and not a full band, and sadly Stephen Luscombe has not been able to tour due to serious illness. It leaves the loveably mad front man, Neil Arthur, to take Blancmange on the road,

Tonight Neil was backed by Rob Dean, keyboard player, dj /sound effects twiddler, and ex-Japan guitarist, and what a glorious original sound they  made. 

Opening with the catchy but equally heartbreaking Lose Your Love (how this was never a huge hit is beyond me) Blancmange are on a roll.

We then get treated to several tracks from the most recent album Blanc Burn, such as the wonderfully upbeat The Western, with one of the best opening lines I've ever heard: "I'm having a fight with myself, and losing every round to dignity and health". They go on  to the already classic sounding Drive Me, and  Ultraviolent, a true and slightly disturbing song regarding what may be refered to, by some, as chavs.

What shines through is what a clever songwtriter Arthur is. Sometimes these songs seem barking, but if you peel back the layers there are witty and true statements going on within. Also from Blanc Burn we get Bus Stop, a Pulp-esque little ditty, almost spoken as opposed to sung, and definitely a tune which only English people over the age over 30 could possibly understand. We get treated to a fan favourite Game Above My Head, before Arthur eads us into a full performance of the Happy Families album.

Happy Families has been re-recorded for this tour, giving the songs a bit more of a modern, dancey sound, but the songs don't stray too far from their original form. If I'm honest I'm left trying to figure out why Arthur has messed about with them, as the the original versions are superb, and have aged very well, mainly due to Blancmange having such a unique sound.

Despite this, the whole album sounds great live, and it's an album that has no fillers.

Opening this half with I can't explain and then Feel me, Neil puts heart and soul into these songs, and you can clearly tell they are personal to him. It's also throughout playing this album the clear influence of The late Ian Curtis comes through in the vocal style, and even some of his dance moves. We get the beautiful wasted and waves (one of the best love songs ever in my opinion) I'm sure grown men were crying. Obviously it's not a Blancmange gig without the mighty Living on the Ceiling, which gets the crowd moving the most they have tonight. 

Overall a great passionate, entertaining and original show. Long may artists of this calibre keep reminding of us of what a great period of music the 80s was.

A lot of these tunes remind of silly things such as buying a Star Wars figure or knocking a golf ball around with my cousin, and i ask myself where would we be without the music? 

And hats off to DJAlterboy, who pulled through his warm up set by using his iPhone due to his laptop crashing. Well dj'ing on the ceiling does have its perils.

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Steve GrayNovember 15th 2013.

Saw them twice around '81. Once as support to Japan, then again supporting I think Depeche mode at Mountford Hall. Instantly recognisable. Thanks for the reminder.

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