ALTERED IMAGES and VANITY FAIRY live at Concorde 2 , BRIGHTON 13 Sept 2022. JOY. promotions.
Altered Images are a Scottish new wave/post-punk band who found success in the early 1980s. Fronted by singer Clare Grogan, the group branched into mainstream pop music, having six UK top-40 hit singles and three top-30 albums from 1981 to 1983. Their big hits included “Happy Birthday”, “I Could Be Happy”, “See Those Eyes”, and “Don’t Talk to Me About Love”.
The band were fans of Siouxsie and the Banshees. When they learnt the Banshees were going to play in Scotland, they sent a demo tape to Billy Chainsaw, who managed the official Siouxsie fan club, with a note asking “can we support them on tour?”. The Banshees gave the band a support slot on their Kaleidoscope British tour of 1980. Altered Images’s name referred to a sleeve design on the Buzzcocks’ single “Promises”, and was inspired by Buzzcocks vocalist Pete Shelley’s constant interfering with the initial sleeve designs.
After being championed by BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, for whom they recorded a radio session in October 1980, they garnered enough attention to be offered a recording contract with Epic Records, but mainstream success was not immediate; their debut single, “Dead Pop Stars”, reached only number 67 in the UK Singles Chart.
I had the chance to meet and chat with Clare Grogan in Edinburgh together with Richard Jobson (Skids) and Fay Fife (The Rezillos). That was a great evening. Sadly I didn’t get the chance for a chat tonight. Oh well, maybe next time?
So after some rescheduling Altered Images were back in Brighton, at Concorde 2. I had been looking forward to this, seeing Clare and her latest incarnation of Altered Images. Its been a while.
A soggy wet Tuesday night, and also a School Night, and the passing of the Queen did not stop a sizeable crowd from gathering. We were greeted by a well stocked merch desk. The new album Mascara Streakz was in prominent position. The first Altered Images album in over 38 years! Concorde 2 wasn’t full but the crowd was a good size and there was a buzz of expectation and excitement in the room.
Welcome Altered Images…
The smoke machine fired up and the usual back lighting lit up. It was all a bit dark and smokey up there as the band took to the stage first. A few bars in and on to the stage bounced Clare Grogan, a huge smile, which remained for the entire evening, and a wave. She looked stunning in a black sparkle dress, huge black sunglasses, and she looked as fresh faced as she did back in the day. Welcome Clare!
The band fired us into the new album title track Mascara Streakz, a wonderful electro disc feel to start. One of those big hits from back in the day was next with I Could Be Happy. Clare bounced around the stage and the crowd started to bounce, and we kept that going for the full 90 minutes. A great song, shorter version than the 12” vinyl mix of the song. The Brighton voices sang it out loud!
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Some great Bass playing from Rosie, she and Clare showed they were having fun whilst playing as they took us into another new track as the drum pattern started up Beautiful Thing. Rosie and Martin on drums kept things razor sharp. Clare really has a top band of musicians with her.
On guitars was Gillian, a new addition, and she played some great sounds and pulled off some top fretwork. Along with Gillian on the other lead guitar was Alan. The two of them pushed out a top notch sound. Clare would frequently mix it up with her band swapping dance moves, and smiling all the time.
New and old…
Clare is now the only original member but as See Those Eyes played out the newest line up of musicians were more than able to deliver the classics that the fans in the crowd wanted to hear and dance along with. They delivered the new material and older songs such as Insects and Dead Pop Stars with the same polish. They nailed getting the 80’s spirit just right and carried it into the almost at time techno dance newer material.
The new single Gltter Ball was in the set. Fabulous! This was co-written by Suedes Bernard Butler. He has quite a lot of input into the new album.
Double Refection has a real New Order/Kylie Can’t Get Blue Monday Out Of My Head vibe running through it and with a backing synth track running alongside, this was one of the set highlights for me, and it’s a great track on the new album. Another highlight was one of the slower numbers of the night was Your Life Is Mine, a slower tempo song packed with great lyrics and guitars and almost a bag pipe synth sound breaking through.
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Lively and energetic…
Knowing smiles were shot across the stage with the entire band. Here was a band really comfortable and clearly enjoying every second and the crowd felt engaged, and with Clare leading it, it was all really infectious. Their reactions were picked up by the crowd making it an unmissable engaging performance.
Clare would every so often stop, and draw us in closer with a wee chat. Delightfully done and with some serious and interesting name drops in there, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Martin Rushent, Bernard Butler were just a few and a shout to her husband.
Time had shot by as we had Don’t Talk To Me About Love. Surely Not! Yep, a look at the watch showed we were heading for the close. This I think is one of my all time favourite Altered Images tracks. The band, and Clare played it brilliantly.
Another new track ended the set….. almost. Home. This was a nice almost funky sounding track as Rosie put down some great bass work on this one. Much hand swaying again from the crowd for this track. Stunning song.
Just as things came to a raucous end with their biggest hit Happy Birthday for an encore, I was reminded of the times I played those early songs in the nightclubs in Edinburgh. I think their newer material would also suit that environment.
This was a great song to end a memorable night. The band all grinning all joined hands on the Concorde 2 stage to say cheerio when the song finished. And Clare…. Yes she was still smiling.
Am loving the signed vinyl. I was a lucky one who got the red vinyl version. It really is a great listen and am presently on my third play through. No fillers on Mascara Streaks, every track is a winner!
Altered Images, visit the website
Vanity Fairy – has recently signed with Moshi Moshi Records. She has her hopes pinned on international pop stardom. I hope you don’t mind the comparison, but people always ask “what was it like, what did it sound like”. If you mix a Kate Bush vocal style with a back beat akin to Erasure you might get somewhere close.
A new artist for me, but Vanity Fairy nailed it for me and another photographer. I mentioned the similarity to her after the set, she seemed quite pleased with that. She had cards printed for the crowd to pick up as they came in, at one point she said lets have some fun and threw a handful into the crowd.
Vanity Fairy took to the stage on her own and a PC tablet for company. She would give it a slap when the next tune was required to start. The sound Vanity Fairy puts out is quite unique, it is unique but has some 70’s and 80’s disco, pop, and electro influences running through her songs.
Real name Daisy Capri (Vanity Fairy) truly shone for the Concorde 2 crowd, she absolutely dazzled us with her clothing, massive sun glasses, head gear and a class performance. It looked and sounded amazing.
Sequins and glitter…
Sequins and glitter studded clothing flowed as she swirled around the stage. We were witnessing a real joyous performer. She has the charisma and almost hypnotic eyes (check out the photos). She left the stage after holding her audience with a totally mesmerising performance. The glorious mix of synth and the vocals were stunning, Vanity Fairy left the stage leaving us satisfied but definitely wanting more.
I said at the start she has hopes set on stardom. With a performance and aura all backed with such great material I am sure Vanity Fairy has a good chance. This is special, something truly unique, I would love to see her again for maybe a longer set.
Vanity Fairy is on Facebook
Clare Grogan and Altered Images
and the Brighton and Hove News music team
And to all the crew at Concorde 2