Why this gig?
I’ve never really considered myself a Heaven 17 fan. But I went to see the British Electric Foundation recently and really enjoyed it. so I when I saw this Heaven 17 show advertised I decided it would be worth seeing.
I didn’t find out until the afternoon before the show, but the support were Scritti Politti. I really liked their music back in the 80s, but I’ve never seen them live. I’ve seen Green Gartside appearing as a guest artist at a number of gigs over the last few years, but I didn’t even know that the band were still together. But I was very happy to have the chance to see them at last and they didn’t disappoint. I only recognised four songs (the singles “The Sweetest Girl”, “The Word Girl”, “Wood Beez” and “Absolute”) but they all sounded as good as they did almost thirty years ago and the rest of the set was really good too.
I hope they continue playing together. I’d love to see them do a longer set at some point.
I haven’t seen Heaven 17 before, so I had no idea what to expect. I was a little surpised when they started with the Human League’s “Circus of Death” and even more surprised when they followed it with “Marianne” and “Crow and a Baby”. As this was a special show (part of Virgin Records’ 40th anniversary celebrations) they has decided to start with a mini-set of old Human League songs. I might be a little ambivalent about Heaven 17, but I’m a big Human League fan and I never thought I’d have the chance to hear some of this songs played live. They played forty-five minutes of old Human League songs. Glenn Gregory did a passable impression of Phil Oakey and it was all wonderful.
All of which meant that the second half of the set (when they switched back to Heaven 17 songs) was a little bit of a let-down. Oh, of course it was great to hear songs like “Fascist Groove Thang” and “Come Live With Me”, but there are a lot of Heaven 17 singles like “Let Me Go” which are bound to be a bit of a let-down when they’re following songs like “Empire State Human” and “Being Boiled”.
They finished with a fabulous version of “Temptation” which gave backing singer, Billie Godfrey a chance to really shine, and an encore of “Penthouse and Pavement” send everyone home with broad grins on their faces.
A great concert, but probably not what you’ll get at a more run of the mill Heaven 17 gig.
I’ve put a first draft of the set list on Setlist.fm, but it was done from memory so there are probably omissions.