Summer had dealt us a blistering day as I made my way to the Palais Theatre in St Kilda. It seems all of Melbourne had also made the pilgrimage to the beach to escape the oppressive heat. It was bathers and ice creams as far as they eye could see, all doing what they could to keep cool.
It was no surprise to see Pseudo Echo on the night’s bill, still sounding as good, if not better than they did back in the 80’s. The ever dapper Brian Canham leading the band in his pinstripes pants, vest and trademark hat. Pumping out all their hits to a very lively crowd, you could have easily thought they were filling the number one spot of the evening. With a set of 45 minutes covering nine songs we really got a good chance to relive some memories from our younger years, and of course everyone still remembered all the words! Some of my highlights were A Beat For You, Love An Adventure, and the one that put them on the map Listening. There were also two awesome covers of Nutbush City Limits and Send Me An Angel. The kings of the keytar finished out the night with Funky Town, this saw everyone on their feet, clapping and dancing to this rather extended version with some fine shredding from Brian. It was the perfect warm up for another eighties favourite The Human League.
The night was running like clockwork and right on time The Human League took to the stage. With a backing band of three, two on keys/keytars and one on electronic drums they were off and running. Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley took their places either side of the stage, looking gorgeous decked out in black from head to toe, as were the accompanying musicians. Philip Oakey burst out in black leather looking fit and ready to deliver. Opening with Sky it was a delight to take in the fantastic screens and light show, together with the amazing songs that formed my teenage years. Mirror Man a definite favourite, Heart Like A Wheel & The Sound Of The Crowd also very well received. Philip sang Seconds unaccompanied as the ladies left the stage, I could feel a costume change in the air and they didn’t disappoint. Gliding back on the stage now in white, looking radiant and refreshed under some pretty hot conditions.
The screens showed some terrific images, but when I saw Connect Four and Pac-Man flash up it really hit home just how long The Human League had been churning out the hits. Speaking of hits. The Lebanon, Human, Open Your Heart it was an absolute treasure trove of them, Philip working the stage amazingly, his stamina unending. We had a terrific sing/clap along with Love Action (I Believe In Love) everyone bouncing in their seats, and while we were all feeling the heat we still kept the dancing up for Fascination, which was another very popular song, everyone truly loosing themselves to the music. While there wasn’t a lot of talking over the course of the night, Phillip did mention The Human League’s first trip to Australia in 1982 when he got the worst haircut of his life, I don’t think that will be an issue so much these days with hair not being so high on the agenda.
All three left the stage and the band gave us the opening notes of Don’t You Want Me, which was enough to have us all singing as they played, buying enough time for the trio to catch their breath backstage. Returning now all three dressed in white they gave us Don’t You Want Me in its entirety. What a fabulous finisher for the night, or was it? I thought that would see the night out but after yet another costume change for the ladies they returned in lots of feathers and fringes looking very sultry, and ready for a few more hits. The fans went crazy as the opening of Being Boiled rang out and then the best surprise of the night Together In Electric Dreams which was written by Phil for the movie Electric Dreams back in 1984. It was an amazing way to finish off the night, everyone reveling in the electronic/pop sound that The Human League are renowned for.
While many bands have tried to replicate the sound of The Human League over the years tonight brought to the forefront that they really are in a league of their own.
Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale