His youngest son Michael Jr in conversation with the epic
broadcaster Michael Parkinson, who at the age of 82, is still a charismatic
Aided by clips
from the iconic TV show ‘Parkinson’ the evening focused very much on the show
itself and the many celebrities that came and went during its run from 1971 to
1982 and 1998 to 2007 respectively but also covers some personal stories about
his upbringing and his experiences as a broadcaster with all the ups and downs
clips were from the ‘The Best of Parkinson’ DVD which has been released some
years ago, it was still lovely to hear him talk about towering figures like
Orson Welles or his duet with Bing Crosby.
Originally planned to take the slot of support act were ‘Men without hats’
but mere days before the Birmingham gig that was changed to Dan Burton, a young
man, probably in his early 20s who has just released his very first EP.
While battling some sound issues especially related to his microphone
Burton played some high energy pop, reminiscent of the good old 80s and 90s and
his songs were poppy and easy to listen to. Dan himself was really sweet and
friendly and well received by the audience.
Howard Jones’s set included all the greats including ‘Like to get to
know you well’, ‘Hide & seek’, ‘No one is to blame’, ‘Human Touch’, the
ever beautiful ‘What is love’ and ‘You know I love you … don’t you?’ which he
dedicated to the audience.
Armed with a drummer, a percussionist (all electronic of course), a
guitarist and an additional synthesizer guy Howard Jones, whose voice is still
superb, upped the ante from the start and the songs were all amazing sounding
and performed energetically with humour.
Beautiful video backdrops and great lighting all helped the evening to
be memorable. Great night out for sure. He must be the coolest dude over 60 on the planet
Pop legend Howard Jones joined by Men without hats is going on his 'Best' tour and he will be in Birmingham in November. Another legend, talk show host extraordinaire Sir Michael Parkinson will also come to Birmingham in November 2017 and I will be there xx
Three-piece opener ‘Isgar’
are a somewhat unusual choice for a support act until you realise that their
synth-man is also working for Erasure.
While singer Beth’s voice
is hugely impressive and their songs are emotionally deep (how refreshing) their
short set didn’t really allow me to get into their music, mainly because there is
‘sparse’ and then there is ‘too empty’ as far as the overall sound was concerned.
The Roundhouse is an
iconic venue and with Erasure being an iconic band – this evening was epic.
Before embarking on a
stadium tour as support act to Robbie Williams, Erasure played three gigs in
support of their new album ‘World be gone’, which peaked at #6 in the UK charts
and deservedly so.
The mostly downbeat,
reflective and thought-provoking album is in many ways an unusual album in the
high energy catalogue of the band’s work but it captures Erasure at their best.
The stage is simple and
the lighting very effective and from the word ‘go’ Andy & Vince, supported
by their ever present and ever wonderful backing vocalists Val & Emma own
The chemistry of the band
was amazing to witness and the setlist was super impressive as it featured many
of their massive hits as well as less often performed gems such as ‘Here I go
impossible again’ off their 2005 album Nightbird
or the underrated, totally beautiful ‘In my arms’.
They played 9 out of 10
songs from ‘world be gone’ and the new material fitted in nicely with the rest,
which in itself shows just how amazing Erasure’s songwriting skills are.
Erasure love their fans
and the fans love them and this unbreakable bond between the perhaps most
charismatic synth pop band of all times and their followers was felt during
The sound was crystal
clear and Andy’s voice spot on throughout and the normally quite reserved
synthesizer legend Vince Clarke smiled a lot and just to watch them live was
performances and talks including Q&A, the electronic music conference in
Birmingham had interesting and influential musicians to offer.
While organiser Chris
Wave said very little and showed a 26 minute 1980’s film called ‘Knights electric’
with a great soundtrack and a crappy storyline during his 30 minutes set the
event really became meaningful when the various conveyors of electronic music
gave their talks and allowed plenty of time for audience members to ask
First up was synthesist
Richard Barbieri whose band ‘Japan’ enjoyed success in the mid 1970s into the
early 1980’s and especially their album ‘Tin Drum’ is seen as ground-breaking. Not
as big in their home country as they should have been, Japan still had a large
following in the UK. Barbieri was a down to earth guy who openly talked about
the trappings of working on projects alone and the joys of collaborating and
recalled some Japan related anecdotes.
Classically trained musician
Chris Payne was next and he talked about how confining it often was during the
making of Gary Numan’s highly praised album ‘The pleasure principle’ where he
was asked just to play certain chords and didn’t always get a chance to express
He spoke fondly of his time with Gary Numan both as a
touring musician as well as being in the studio. Payne also co-wrote the global
smash hit ‘Fade to grey’ by Visage.
He was a fun guy to
listen to and even asked questions inquiring how, for song writing musicians in
the audience, the collaborative process worked and shaped their music and
shared his experiences as a film music composer, classically trained violinist
and had interesting things to say about the music industry.
World renowned DJ Rusty
Egan was next and he has a highly entertaining personality. He used his hour
more or less entirely to rant about the misdeeds of musicians he had once
helped out and there wasn’t anything to learn or to take home particularly from
his 60-minute talk.
The highlight of this
exciting afternoon was clearly the presentation and talk from Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware (also of The Human League fame). He talked about ‘his life in 20 synths’
and talked about his career as a musician as well as a producer (Erasure &
Terence Trent D’arby were some artists he worked with) and the second part of
his talk was about his audio-visual installations that are globally successful
He candidly answered the ever-occurring
question about performing The Human League’s first two albums with the original
line up and his relationship to Philip Oakey and was fascinating to listen to.
All speakers were easily
approachable and there were no big egos in the room – just very nice people and
influential musician who helped shape the history of electronic music.