Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Neil Arthur stood almost transfixed on the stage of the East Village Arts Centre. Seemingly beautifully hypnotised by the sight and sound that was taking place before him as fans, young and old, of Blancmange didn’t just sing back to him, they liberated and gave freedom to the symbol of musical expression.
That moment characterises the deep love there is for one of the nicest people to come out of the whole 1980s British pop scene. Alongside Stephen Luscombe, who tragically no longer tours, Neil Arthur and Blancmange represented something different from the popular music that was on offer at the time. They fitted in so well with bands such as The Human League, Heaven 17 and ABC, their lyrics were consuming and delicate but never exclusive, they played every note as if it was filled with the potential of a story, that every beat was the start of a deep insight in to the human condition and the fragility of thought. They were every band but something unique and special that it was no wonder on a dark October night in the middle of Liverpool, the sound that reverberated from the back of the stalls was tantalising and sealed with the unspoken bond between performer and audience member.
Dressed in white laboratory coats, Neil was joined by Adam Fuest and Oogoomaia and the sense of occasion oozed off the stage in unmistakeable waves, Neil Arthur proceeded to give the finest musical satisfaction to a crowd that would have listened to him deliver a Shakespearian monologue had he felt the need and no doubt would have responded with the cries of more. It was that sense of appreciation that left the three men on stage visibly delighted and professionally gratified as songs such as God’s Kitchen, Don’t Tell Me, I Can’t Explain, the matchless Living on the Ceiling, Ultraviolent and the set closer Blind Vision were cheered as if the songs hadn’t been heard in years.
Blancmange have remained popular due to the personality and inimitable style of song writing of both the key members of the band and whilst it is always with a deep and broken heart for all Blancmange fans that Stephen Luscombe can no longer tour, to have Neil Arthur, a man many it seems would carry on the shoulders in praise no matter what profession he decided to undertake, deliver songs that have remained not only popular but unrivalled should be taken as the greatest sign of sincerity to any musician from that period.
The desperate cries of more rang in their ears as they removed themselves from the stage, it was only what Neil Arthur, Joined by Adam Fuest and Oogoomaia deserved.
Ian D. Hall