Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Any genre of music requires its founding fathers, its elder statesmen and women, the ones who made the dream of a generation and the bane of a previous one, to stand up, take control and be magnificent in the face of possible adversity and obliging redemption.
The 80’s Synth scene had it in abundance, everybody wanted to be in a band that could create such a sound, capture and embrace the digital age with the passion of a science fiction writer explaining away why humanity was on the verge of a new age or the maths professor suddenly turned on by the possibility of the strange and wonderful interrupting his thought. The Age of Synth, it had many Godparents, many fathers, numerous sired off spring but arguably for countless and previously unseen thousands, Sheffield’s Human League and the irreplaceable Heaven 17 were the bands of their time and for Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware, the reception they received on the first night of their latest tour in the Liverpool o2 Academy…well Superbowl homecomings have been less intense, less than deserved.
Life goes round in a circle, the merry-go-round of popularity and individuality always catching the ears at their most weak-kneed and panting breathless longing, the thirst for something a bit different in the humdrum of existence and the big band of witnessing a crowd really hold a band to their hearts; in the 35 years since Heaven 17 released Penthouse and Pavement into the national arena, the certain level of acrimony following the split that created the mother and father of the British side of the genre, this was the circle complete once more, the sweat, the fantastic nights already played in front of Liverpool audiences in the time between, this was ecstasy for Heaven 17’s large fanbase in the city of music.
Penthouse and Pavement was not just revolutionary, it is luxury and terrifyingly still vogue, the themes still relevant, the moments of pure bliss colliding with a future that has been destroyed and rebuilt in the same unnerving guise and as the stage shook under the weight of expectation, the tight leather and the impressive demeanour, Heaven 17 revelled in the past and offered the future another chance.
With Penthouse and Pavement being performed back to back, some old favourites were perhaps overshadowed by Time straining to allow the songs to truly breathe. Breathe they did, Time was shoved aside in a fit of excellence and as songs such as (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang, Play To Win, Geisha Boys and Temple Girls and Let’s All Make A Bomb filled the Academy air, Time took note, the chronicler of the Synth age nodded their approval and condensed the 35 years between album release and first night of the tour party into a single beating heart; a night in which British Synth was utterly fabulous again.
Ian D. Hall