Category Archives: Human League
Date: 27 September 2017
Artist: Heaven 17
Venue: Highline Ballroom
Location: New York, NY USA
Ticket Price (USD): $30.00
I have a short list of active artists on my concert bucket list. Opportunities arose to cross off a couple upon learning that both Front 242 and Saint Etienne would be stopping in New York this month on their respective North American tours. And then came huge news via a post on Post Punk Monk’s blog that Heaven 17 would be squeezing two US dates into their travel itinerary.
Alas, all those shows were scheduled during the week—getting older has made the attendance of midweek concerts more challenging, and the prospect of driving 200 miles round trip posed an even greater deterrent. Not much in the mood for fun these days, I had consequently resigned myself to forego seeing any of those acts.
However, Heaven 17 have never played live in the United States, and may never do so again. In the end, the temptation was too great, and I decided that missing the Sheffield legends would be the foolish thing to do.
While not a follower of H17, my best friend Todd declared his desire to attend the show, and so two general admission tickets were purchased during the presale period. In 2016, Todd and I had the pleasure of seeing Glenn Gregory perform with Tony Visconti’s Bowie tribute supergroup, Holy Holy; that memorable experience acquainted us with Gregory’s live chops.
On the eve of the show, we motored up north to Manhattan, and found free street parking mere meters from the venue entrance. And as I looked around to verify the spot’s validity, Glenn Gregory walked by, perhaps on his way to grab a bite of the Big Apple.
Highline Ballroom is a hip, intimate space situated in NY’s Chelsea neighborhood. Its flexible floor plan allows for a maximum capacity of 700 standing or 400 fully seated patrons. Todd and I grabbed a table at the front of the balcony and enjoyed tasty fare and cocktails before the main event.
At exactly 8:00 PM, the “BEF Ident” played over the Highline Ballroom’s exceptional sound system as H17 took to the stage, and opened with a cover of The Human League’s “Circus Of Death.” Augmented by keyboardist Berenice Scott and vocalist Rachel Mosley, Gregory and Ware electrified the house with hit singles and album cuts, predominantly drawn from their first two LPs. Rendered live, the old tracks were given a new, contemporary sheen, while still retaining their unique integrity.
Early on, Gregory joked that the setlist left no room for chit-chat; however, he did find time to banter with partner Martyn Ware, notably poking fun at Ian Craig Marsh’s absence and Phil Oakey’s asymmetrical haircut from days of yore.
As the group launched into “Fascist Groove Thang”, I was prepared to hear updated lyrics identifying the current fascist US President; alas, Gregory stuck to the script, and an ideal opportunity for social commentary was missed. However, that was the only disappointment of the evening.
A delightful detour during the otherwise fast-paced set was Gregory and Ware’s hypnotic duet of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”, as per the arrangement on The Human League’s “Reproduction.”
As has been H17’s practice in recent years, their biggest chart hit “Temptation” was programmed as the splendid Brothers In Rhythm remix from 1992. And Rachel Mosley’s pipes proved perfectly capable of handing the tune’s requisite vocal gymnastics.
Given The Thin White Duke’s influence on H17, as well as Gregory’s affiliation with Holy Holy, the inclusion of a Bowie song in the set seemed likely; the surprising choice was a cover of “Let’s Dance” quite faithful to the original. Additionally, Gregory and Scott performed “Life On Mars” as the first encore selection.
The quartet closed out the night as it had begun: covering a classic tune by The ‘proper’ Human League. The packed house was more than pleased.
SETLIST (Start: 8:00 PM; End: 9:40 PM)
01 Circus Of Death
02 (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
03 Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry
04 Play To Win
05 (And That’s No Lie)
06 Geisha Boys And Temple Girls
07 Come Live With Me
08 You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
09 We Live So Fast
10 Let’s Dance
11 Let’s All Make A Bomb
12 Let Me Go
13 Penthouse And Pavement
15 Life On Mars
16 Being Boiled
Heaven 17’s long overdue stateside visit was certainly worth the wait. Hopefully, fans may look forward to future appearances on this side of the pond.
The Human League
“Stay With Me Tonight”
1996 EastWest (UK)
01 Stay With Me Tonight (Single Version)
02 Stay With Me Tonight (Space Kittens Vocal Mix)
03 Stay With Me Tonight (Space Kittens Future Dub)
04 Stay With Me Tonight (The Biff & Memphis Remix)
05 Stay With Me Tonight (The Biff & Memphis Dub Mix)
01 Love Me Madly? (Zenn Eternal Countdown Edit)
02 Love Me Madly? (Dave Bascombe Mix)
03 Love Me Madly? (Voice Of Buddha Remix)
04 Love Me Madly? (Cuzco Remix)
INFO > The Human League’s eighth album “Secrets” suffered commercially from lack of promotion and the untimely bankruptcy of releasing label Papillon in 2001. After a chance meeting with Phil Oakey, Dutch DJ/producer Michiel van Bokhorst was able to acquire the master tapes for “Secrets” album track “Love Me Madly?” and create a white label remix. Additional mixes were produced, and van Bokhorst negotiated an official release in 2003 through his Nukove imprint.
01 Filling Up With Heaven
02 Filling Up With Heaven (Neil McLellan Vocal Mix)
03 John Cleese: Is He Funny? (ULA Remix)
04 John Cleese: Is He Funny? (Self Preservation Society House Mix)
05 Filling Up With Heaven (Hardfloor Vocal Remix)
06 Filling Dub With Heaven (Hardfloor Remix)
07 Filling Up With Heaven (Neil McLellan Club Mix)
08 Filling Up With Heaven (ULA Remix)
INFO > Third of three singles released from The Human League’s 1995 album, “Octopus.” On the mix: Neil McClellan, Andy Gray, Dave Valentine, and Hardfloor. And yes, John Cleese is funny.
01 One Man In My Heart
02 One Man In My Heart (T.O.E.C. Extended)
03 One Man In My Heart (T.O.E.C. Unplugged)
04 These Are The Days (Sonic Radiation)
05 These Are The Days (Ba Ba Mix)
06 These Are The Days (Overworld Mix)
07 These Are The Days (Man With No Name Vocal)
08 One Man In My Heart (T.O.E.C. Nasty Sue Mix)
INFO > Following the failure of The Human League’s 1990 album “Romantic?”, the band was unceremoniously dumped by longtime label Virgin. Remaining members Phil Oakey, Joanne Catherall, and Susan Sulley shopped demos around and attracted the interest of EastWest, which signed the League in 1994. Former Tears For Fears keyboardist Ian Stanley produced The Human League’s seventh LP “Octopus”, which spawned three successful singles. Romantic ballad “One Man In My Heart” was the album’s second single and the first from the band to feature a female lead vocal.
So, I was looking forward to seeing The Human League tonight at The Keswick Theater in Glenside, Pennsylvania. I’ve seen the League live twice before, but never a full set as headliners. And while I’m not crazy about their latest album, “Credo”, there are a couple of good tunes on there, and the group certainly isn’t lacking for solid material to perform. Also, I was somewhat interested in seeing opening act Men Without Hats, especially as me and the wife chose “The Safety Dance” as our wedding song (yes, we were having a bit of a laugh). However, before leaving the office today, I was informed via a message on the venue’s website that the show had been canceled due to “an unforeseen scheduling clash involving promotion of the new album…” Unable to argue with that cryptic excuse, I set off for home.
Along the way, I encountered a pigeon behaving oddly and straying too close to fast-moving vehicles on a busy road. So I pulled over and chased after him, stopping traffic to allow his safe passage to the other side of the avenue. He fluttered over a fence, but barely made it. I noticed a band around one leg, indicating that he is a racing pigeon (the rather ridiculous ‘competition’ of pigeon racing apparently has a large following here in the U.S.) Finding a way around the fence, I captured the bird and then took him to a nearby bird clinic where I volunteer.
White Flicker Wild Bird Rehabilitation Clinic is a small operation run out of the home of Miriam Moyer, a wonderfully caring and compassionate soul who spends a minimum of 12 hours each day caring for sick, injured, and orphaned songbirds. She doesn’t receive any compensation or funding from the local government or foundations—she does it out of admiration, respect, and sincere love for her patients. You don’t come across too many folks that do something out of the goodness of their heart—Miriam is selflessly dedicated to helping our fine-feathered friends (and earlier this month, she celebrated her 75th birthday!)
Having lost his way home and unable to forage for food while grounded, the poor pigeon was quite emaciated. However, Miriam will see to his recovery and find him a new home through her network of wildlife friends. Knowing that the little guy will recover in good hands, I continued my evening commute.
I had been home less than an hour when I received a call from Miriam, inquiring if I would be available to capture a seagull that wasn’t faring well in a parking lot near Philadelphia International Airport. So I quickly ate dinner, jumped back into the birdmobile, and sped down to the gull’s location. I checked in with the woman who contacted the clinic, and then found the bird loitering in the lot. As I approached, the gull quickly walked away, evading me through the maze of parked cars. He briefly took flight for a short distance at low altitude, but didn’t have the strength to continue. I was able to walk up beside the bird and then net him as he changed direction in an effort to elude me. The concerned employee was quite relieved and expressed her appreciation with a pass for two free days of parking :-)
The gull was intermittently restless in the crate during the ride back to the clinic. However, he looks to be in good shape overall, if not a bit thin. As Miriam specializes in songbirds, I’ll be transporting the gull to Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research in Newark, Delaware tomorrow. Tri-State is an outstanding facility that cares for all bird species and has a esteemed reputation for managing wildlife recovery efforts in the wake of oil spills.
Anyway, thanks for enduring this personal and probably boring post—normal programming will resume this weekend. And hopefully OMD will play as scheduled tomorrow night at the Theater of the Living Arts in Philadelphia…