The Human League: Manchester Academy

The vogue for all things Eighties refuses to die: And who better to represent the era than one of the pioneers of the genre which became known as Synth Pop, The Human League.

The  Human League can be traced right back to 1978 when their first single, Being Boiled was released, garnering the band an early following of the faithful, listening to this song today shows how forward looking the band’s song writing was.

This Eighties adoration was very much evident tonight as the lights went out, the crowd roared as The Human Leagues frontman Philip Oakey stood lurking at the side of the stage in his Hoodie, looking like Luke Skywalker in his Jedi outfit, watching over the other band members. The Human League are far from my scene, but I can see where many of the latest bands get their inspiration, amongst many, the main one that relates to me would be La Roux.

It seemed Oakley was building the crowds up by standing in the sides of the stage for each song intro, then song after song; the hood came off, then the sunglasses.  It worked wonders to build the scene , people of all ages seemed overwhelmed.  This feeling was definitely spurred along with the set up of the stage, giving off a very 1980’s MTV live show! I thought it was pretty cool.

Mirror man… was the opening for the night.  I don’t think anyone at the academy at this point didn’t at least clap, dance or sing along to this tune. A sell out crowd cheering eagerly as backing singers Joanne Catherall and Susanne Sulley gleam in the strobes.  Sulley must still feel great to get so many wolf whistles.

Half way through the gig, Oakey broke it down a little with a few words here and there;  Funny I suppose, I remember him saying:

“Manchester we’re your neighbours, we love you”.

With a silent pause. “Well at least your shops!”

Then on to a truly great tune, one of their classics:  The Lebanon, written the year I was born 1984.  The crowds tempo raised another notch.

Oakey later had a few more words to say about a photographer,  and how crazy it is when people try to get close up shots of the Set Lists!  Poor Simon (Public Humiliation!).

The stage alone was a pretty awesome set up, But about half way through the back screen lit up and had some really random, Nazi symbols and video clips, leading off to classic sheep in t-shirts to the Single “the Sound of the Crowd”, to clips from “Tron”.  Again all things 80’s seem to be coming back, with the new Tron movie just released. Their single, Night People is really good too, went down a treat with the audienc too. I would advise you to have a listen, Night People will be downloaded by myself tonight!

Nearing the end, Oakey thanked all his supporters and fans, and also the band members, again Sulley seeming to get the most attention!  The last tune sang was the all-time classic, the band’s best known and most commercially successful recording to date, topping the Billboard Hot 100 in the US on July 3, 1982 (where it stayed for three weeks), and was the Christmas number one in the UK where it sold over 1,400,000 copies;  Guessed it?!

“Don’t You Want Me Baby?

Shortly after leaving the stage, they came back for two more, finishing with Electric Dreams.  It was one entertaining evening.