The Human League, Gig Review. o2 Apollo, Manchester.

Photograph by Ian D. Hall.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

The Human League is one the seminal bands to come out of South Yorkshire and alongside Heaven 17 and A.B.C. formed a successful triumvirate that took the U.K. charts by storm in the 1980’s. Fast forward 35 years and the crowd at the Manchester Apollo are brimming with excitement at seeing Philip Oakey, Joanne Catherall and Susan Sulley stand on stage once more.

The stage, as always these days for a Human League gig, is 21st century minimalism. The focus being on the music and lyrics rather than any off putting added extras. For a Human League gig that is really all you need. Whereas the band, when they first formed, would have taken this minimalist approach for granted; mainly due to the bleak times the group found themselves in at the time, these days the minimalism is not due to budget but because this is what works so well on stage. It is clean, clutter free and so very Human League.

Watching The Human League on stage is like putting on a comfortable pair of slippers, it is music that at first listen may be undemanding, good old fashioned pop from a much lauded time for the genre. Underneath though there are songs that somehow still resonate with a crowd celebrating the 35th anniversary of the formation of the band. Even from the initial days of Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh being an integral part of the band and before the split to form Heave 17, the lyrics could be seen as being dark, more honest than others would ever give them credit for.

With songs such as Lebanon, Mirror Man, Seconds, The Sound of the Crowd and Louise being part of the main set, there would be no complaints from the ecstatic audience who danced and sang just as hard as the two women on stage. There would also have been much to ponder as some of the lyrics that the three vocalists were singing would have made the fans in the aisles understand that sometimes things never really change.

The last album by the band, Credo, also had a bit of an airing for the crowd to devour and the fans certainly seemed to enjoy in their mass numbers songs such as Electric Shock, Sky and the incredible Night People being given huge vocal support.

A great night of music and a superb way to celebrate 35 years as being one of the premier bands from the U.K.; The Human League still know how to entertain a crowd and give them a thrill before Christmas.

Ian D. Hall