Blancmange stormed The Old Market in Brighton 15 November 2018, after a sensational gig last year, dropping a set full electronics and humour. They were back with a new album “Wanderlust” and those classics we all know and love.
Bit of history…
Blancmange was formed in Harrow, Middlesex in 1979 by vocalist Neil Arthur (born 15 June 1958, Darwen, Lancashire) and instrumentalist Stephen Luscombe (born 29 October 1954, Hillingdon, Middlesex). The duo released their first EP “Irene and Mavis” the following year, but had their first real exposure via a track on the seminal Some Bizzare Album, alongside fellow acts Soft Cell and Depeche Mode. This led to them signing a recording contract with London Records.
The duo found minor success with their 1982 double A-sided single, “God’s Kitchen”/”I’ve Seen The Word” which peaked at no.65 in the UK. This was followed by “Feel Me” which peaked at no.46. Later that year, they broke through with “Living on the Ceiling”, which reached no.7 in the UK Singles Chart. Their debut album, Happy Families (which featured a sleeve painting in the style of Louis Wain) also reached the top 30. Blancmange formally split up in 1987.
Tonight Neil Arthur / Blancmange were playing Brighton following the releases of the two Neil Arthur/Blancmange albums this year, the latter called ‘Wanderlust’ which came out earlier. I 100% enjoyed the set last year and I was therefore looking forward to seeing this gig, and to hear those new recordings performed live.
First off – introducing the musicians with Neil tonight making up this latest incarnation of Blancmange. Oogoo Maia was on the large array of keyboards, at times we lost sight of him behind the equipment as he concentrated on his music. On drums, well techno drum pad, and Apple laptop was Liam Hutton. He worked really hard to power out the percussion, every so often we could see him as the smoke cleared and the very blue lighting changed.
The sound in this venue was great. All the ranges were clear as were Neils vocals. The bass and drums were set correctly and together provides the real drive and power behind some of the songs.
Distant Storm was the first song of the set as Neil and band were welcomed to the stage. This was followed by In Your Room. These two songs were from the new album “Wanderlust” and set the tone for the earlier part of the set. A full on song from the earlier years, 1984 in fact, was introduced The Game Above My Head, this allowed the musicians to pile it on and this song pounded through The Old Market like a heartbeat. A track from the wonderful album Unfurnished Rooms was up next – Whats The Time? was followed by an earlier track, 1982, I Can’t Explain from the album Happy Families.
I don’t think the audience was made up of people expecting, or only knowing, those earlier releases. As I looked around the crowd were singing along with the majority of the music played tonight. Neil is a wonderful, charismatic front, he smiles and offers up banter with the audience between songs, this draws in much laughter and some verbal enthusiasm from the crowd. Neil answered back the shouts from crowd brilliantly! Blancmange seemed to settle in after a short while in this venue, they were filling the place with their unique presence, electro music and energy.
Tonight’s set is a mix of the old, new and very new. Its a glorious mix and blend wrapped in the unique Blancmange sound. We then had a couple more tracks from that new album which included the brilliant I Smashed Your Phone. Checking the set list I think we pretty much had the entire new album played.
This contrast between the newer material is noticeable when Blancmange launch into a song from those early eighties. The hits. And as the set progressed towards its close the classics were played. Those in the crowd perhaps not so sure of the newer material got what they came for! Living on the Ceiling, a song that everyone seems to know the lyrics for “up the bloody tree” and everyone, and I do mean everyone joins in.
A montage to give you a taste of Blancmange!
Feel Me (intertwined brilliantly with snippets from ‘Every 1’s A Winner’ and ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’), and the monster that is Blind Vision – live – came at us. Brilliant, with Neil orchestrating and leading the crowd in the chorus sing-a-long for these numbers.
Neil invited everyone to come for a chat at the merch desk and we were into the encore number Waves. Safe to say I think Blancmange ticked the boxes for everyone. Plenty of new material spanning the life-cycle of Blancmange and finishing on a total high of classics. Well played guys, that really was another damn fine show in Brighton. That’s the second time seeing these guys for me, would I go see them again? Yes, in a heartbeat! And yes, I think just about everyone went for a chat and to grab some merch.
A Brilliant night – Thank you Blancmange! This was an AGMP promoted evening.
Blancmange are on the WWW
AGMP are on the WWW
The Old Market, Brighton is on the WWW.
Please note all original images / video are copyright, please do not copy. If any of the featured artists/promoters/venues want copies of the images – or more if available – please just get in touch.
All original pictures / video – copyright to IANB/MEDIA WORKS/ SCENE SUSSEX – Ian “The Lens” Bourn 2018.
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