Sunday, December 18, 2016

17.12.2016 Synth Christmas 4 – Neil Francis, The Glass Memorial, Johnny Normal, Shelter

The Actress & Bishop, Birmingham

After a long day of giving treatments to clients the synth x-mas event is just what the doctor ordered (although I was too shattered to stay the whole night).

The evening was just as exciting as last year albeit it less people attended but those who were there made enough noise and the energy was great.

Neil Francis started the evening off with a set that mostly consisted of well sung cover versions of classic synth acts including Yazoo or OMD but also featured his 2016 collaboration track (with DAYSOUND) ‘Deadender’ as well as ‘Connected’ the track the did with Shelter.

His voice is simply amazing and he later joined Johnny Normal on stage to perform the song ‘Save me’ that Neil recorded somewhen in 2015 with Johnny. 


But let us not skip ahead. ‘The Glass Memorial’ were on next and with my eyes closed I could often here Ultravox vibes running through their slightly darker, more minimal material. I didn’t quite warm up to them but really loved the singer’s voice.


Evening organiser Johnny Normal who recently re-recorded Adam Ant’s iconic ‘Kings of the wild frontier’ (1980) album with Adam ant’s very own guitarist Marco Pirroni is an all-around multitalented guy and his set was a high energy affair that had us all up and dancing.


Although I didn’t stay for the whole set, ‘Shelter’ were up next and these guys pack a punch with their versatile songs and stage show.

Yet again, an amazing evening with like minded, friendly people and amazing artists. 


Sunday, December 11, 2016

10.12.2016 The Human League at Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham,support: Ekkoes and Blancmange

‘These are the things that dreams are made of’ is not just a line from an iconic Human League track but this also sums up the vibes of the night.

Three amazing acts.

Support act ‘Ekkoes’ were on stage quite early and had to battle somewhat difficult acoustics but still managed to bring a highly energetic and fun set to the audience. They performed many tracks from their ‘Elekktricity’ album as well as a fun cover of Raf/Laura Branigan’s 1984 hit: ‘Self control’. Would have loved to hear more of Rosalee O’Connell’s voice which was somewhat drowned out at times but nonetheless it was a great set. It was also very nice to see an excited frontman who said that ‘Mirror Man’ is his favourite tune.

Well done, Ekkoes xx

Neil Arthur’s Blancmange needed no introduction and his voice was phenomenal and the set was fun and contained new material from Blancmange’s latest album ‘Commute 23’ and of course the hits ‘Living on the ceiling’, ‘Waves’ and ‘Blind Vision’. 

Older tracks and newer material blended in very well with one another and the whole experience was simply awesome


The Human League were on top form and the show was superb both sonically as well as visually. The set started off with a lone Philip Oakey singing the classic ‘Being Boiled’, contained tracks like ‘Sky’ and ‘Tell me when’ as well as ‘Love Action’ and, of course, ‘Don’t you want me?’ and ended with the Giorgio Moroder / Philip Oakey collaboration track: ‘Together in electric dreams’.

Philips voice was amazing and so was Susan’s. Joanne didn’t quite come across as confident as her bandmates at times but the league truly are ‘a very British synthesizer band’ as well as a national treasure and the audience simply couldn’t get enough of them and the feeling felt mutual.


photo credits: Nicole Valentin & Thomas Janak