Concorde 2 in Brighton saw the first leg of a pretty extensive UK tour…… ‘Probably the most under-rated electronic act of all time’ said Moby.
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.
I was looking forward to this. Two tracks of theirs, Living On The Ceiling (especially the 12″ mix) and Blind Vision had been two of my favourite tracks from back in the day!
Tonight Neil Arthur / Blancmange were playing Brighton at the Concorde 2! This was the first date in their UK and the tour was following the release of the new Blancmange album called ‘Unfurnished Rooms’ which came out in September 2017.
Blancmange: The band
The band took to the stage, all two of them. Oogoo Maia climbed into his cockpit of keyboards and synths whilst David Rhodes strapped himself into his guitar. Clouds of smoke filled the stage and the lights dimmed down, from the fog stepped Neil Arthur… he casually walked across the stage to a huge cheer from the crowd. He stood there, looking out into the crowd and took hold of the mic.
“The Day Before You Came” was the opener tonight. This was chilled and laid back and a quite extraordinary rendition of the song which when released charted at No. 22 in the UK Singles Chart. Although it was the final ABBA recording (32 in the UK Charts) the Blancmange version charted higher! This was a stunning start to the set.
The set was, as they say, almost a game of two halves. The first part was a slower, twisting almost reflective session. Some beautiful tunes and keyboards supporting the fine vocals. At times it was quite mesmerizing listening to the rich harmonies filling the venue. We were given “Unfurnished Rooms” and “We Are The Chemicals” quickly followed by ‘Game Above My Head’. At one point Mr Arthur stepped away from the mic, reached into his jacket, slowly, meticulously he put on his glasses and stood there, looking into the packed venue, he smiled and nodded, took his glasses off and we then got Red Shift. I think we got 7 songs from the new album.
A delightful part of the evening was the chat with the crowd between songs, the heavy accent washing over the crowd. I do enjoy a bit of chat between songs, not a huge amount, I find I engage with the artist more – with a laugh or a cheer. Neil played it just right. The second half of the set started as Neil took off his jacket “time to dance I think!”.
Other songs we were treated to “I Can’t Explain”, “Old Friends”, “Living On The Ceiling” :-), “I’ve Seen The Word”, “Feel Me”, “Blind Vision”. Neil stopped proceedings to tell us how hot it was up there and how they would love a pint of beer, Neil joked “and a pint of Vodka for ‘im!” pointing to Benge. Just to top the night off we got “Lorraine’s My Nurse”, and the quite magnificent live “Don’t Tell Me”
The second half of the set smoked it! The crowd lapped it up. We danced, we sang, we joined in as Neil and the band seemed to soak up the atmosphere they created on the first night of the tour. If these guys are playing near you – go see them and have a great night!
You can find Blancmange on Facebook
Blancmange are on the WWW
An AGMP concert.
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