Heaven 17, Gig Review. o2 Academy, Liverpool.

Glenn Gregory providing Temptation at the o2 Academy, Liverpool. Photograph by Ian D. Hall.

Originally published by Liverpool Live. October 2012.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

For Heaven 17’s remaining members, to come out on tour and perform the whole of their colossal 1983 hit album, The Luxury Gap, must be a double edged sword. One of the biggest, boldest and outstandingly self-confident albums to come out the Steel city for many years, it deserves to be played in its entirety and there would be no dissenters to this fact.

However with only Martyn Ware and the consummate showman that is Glenn Gregory still performing from those heady days when the music of Sheffield was some of the best in the world of pop, there may have been those in the audience who wondered if the band could re-capture those majestic days.

With a superb band behind them, the pair rolled back the years with extreme ease and produced an excellent and fun show for all those that filled the 02 Academy’s main hall.

Both Martyn Ware and Glenn Gregory steamrollered over the near 30 years that have passes since The Luxury Gap was released and despite the odd moment of trepidation later in the set, they showed why alongside The Human League and A.B.C. they were early kings of pioneering music.

The band opened the evening with the foreboding but ultimate dance number Crushed by the Wheels of Industry, Who’ll Stop the Rain and Let Go.  This was a night to relive memories for a great number in the immensely sizeable crowd and it was gratifying to see a younger element taking in one of the greats of early 1980’s synth driven pop play as if they had never lost sight of the main goal, to prove that good music didn’t have to a point just an energy and talent.

The group’s big hit, Temptation, was received like a long lost brother and was quickly followed up by the brilliant Come Live With Me. The first half of the show played out to its natural conclusion and was quickly followed by some of the songs that confirmed Heaven 17’s place in the pantheon of great 1980’s bands.

Songs such as (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang, which was so good they had to play it one and half-times, Geisha Boys and Temple Girls, a rather tongue in cheek acoustic version of Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder’s Together in Electric Dreams, …(And That’s No Lie), Penthouse and Pavement and the exceptional Being Boiled all left their mark on a superb and pleasurable evening.

This may have been the first night of a new tour but it was as excellent as it was beautiful, a hearty return for Martyn Ware, Glenn Gregory and the band, not so much Heaven 17, more like Heaven everywhere.


Ian D. Hall