Monday 5 August 2019

The Human League at Kelvingrove Bandstand

The Kelvingrove Bandstand in the leafy West End of Glasgow is a truly stunning setting a gig. I have witnessed some incredible shows since it reopened in 2014 and on Saturday night The Human League may have played the most euphoric to date.

A few hours prior to showtime Glasgow witnessed an exceptional rainstorm that thankfully cleared the skies and the Bandstand was dry, even slightly sunny and absolutely rammed by half eight. The DJ, Glasgow’s Tam Coyle, played some synth classics to get the crowd in the mood. By the time The Human League walked on to a sparse stage with only white keyboards and mic stands the venue was ready to party. 

And party the Bandstand did. Phil Oakey was on fire as a frontman, bounding from one side of the stage to the other and whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley looked and sounded fantastic. 

How can I sum up such a euphoric show?!

Well I'll try by saying that the highest compliment I can pay The Human League is that their electronic pop music sounds timeless. Some of it even sounds futuristic, maybe even from another planet. 

Yet many of the songs from the setlist were from the early to mid-80's. Such was the bands (dare I say it) pioneering use of synthesisers, many songs sounded like they wouldn't be out of place if they were released tomorrow via DFA Records on a white label.

The beats, riffs, grooves, melodies and hooks were sublime. This was, pardon the pun, daring pop music of the highest quality.

A drummer, two keyboard/synth players and a behind the curtains programmer backed the trio of singers superbly and everyone was on it from the start.

Bandstand crowds can sometimes take a while to warm up and venture to the standing area in front of the stage, but a well-oiled Saturday night crowd were there from the off and the whole place was standing, dancing and singing.

Mirror Man was an early highlight for me, swiftly followed by Heart Like A Wheel, a song I hadn't heard before yet I quickly fell for it. Pure pop.

Some songs had a darker edge to them, All I Ever Wanted, for example.  Oakey was magnificent, bounding to the edge of the stage centre, left and right to acknowledge his adoring fans. Or, in the case of penultimate song Being Boiled, he stood menacingly by the drums, regardless of what he did his presence and personality could not be ignored. 

The pop hits were sensational' Love Action, Tell Me When, Fascination and of course Don't You Want Me that started with all of the singers off stage for one of a few costume changes. They could have stayed off as the crowd sang this glorious pop hit through to the second verse before the singers came on and started everything again. It was utterly euphoric, an incredible moment to see the Bandstand going crazy.

The night ended with more pop perfection, the sublime Together In Electric Dreams. And together we were as we punched the air and sang the chorus back at the band. Oakey, Catherall and Sulley all acknowledged the Glasgow crowd - we would be nothing without you were Oakey's words as he departed the stage.

What a show! Energy, electronica, excitement and euphoria! This was only the second time I had seen The Human League live after catching them many years ago at the Wickerman Festival. I won't leave it as long next time!

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