Not just late 70’s and 80’s at its finest, this is electro and synth in its most superior form. When I think of The Human League, I think of Kraftwerk and Ultravox etc, all these masters of electronica, that play within your metal landscape and demand you move. No matter where you are and what you are doing, it is impossible to not have some body part twitching away. The brilliant Human League brought some mystique and pizzazz into our Sydney nightlife on Friday night at the State Theatre and I couldn’t wait to tear away my working persona for the week and let loose. A sparkly top and dancing shoes.. check.. that extra late coffee to top up my energy levels.. check. (It wouldn’t have been just me having to caffeine up in preparation..) A great Sydney crowd.. yes. This is a pure dance and fantasy concert, like the original Tron movie coming to life. I felt like I was in another world for those few hours and just thinking about it is making my belly butterflies all restless again.
Lucky for us, we had local 80’s legends, Pseudo Echo, to get the groove going early. Still amazing after all these years. I’ve seen quite a few Pseudo gigs and they are never short of entertaining, vibrant and lively. Their set included 80’s tracks like ‘Listening’, ‘Don’t Go’, ‘A Beat For You’ and of course the wonderful ‘Funky Town’ cover. It wasn’t just lead singer Brian that was looking good and had the funky threads, there were quite a few fun Sydneysiders that pulled out their cool outfits for the night. I really enjoyed their cover of Real Life’s ‘Send Me An Angel’ and their version of ‘Nut Bush City Limits’. Talk about an 80’s music and dance fest. And I love seeing our bands still out and about on the circuit, the venues are always so packed and punters waiting eagerly for their favourite ‘when I was young’ songs to be played. The vibes at these gigs are always so happy and enjoyable. The perfect night out.
Even in between bands, it was exciting to watch the stage set up. Three microphones at the front, equipment towards the back and neutral colours throughout. Many of us had waited a long time to see the Human League live, so it was like an early Christmas gift. Remember those spectacular 80’s music clips and dancing away in our bedrooms when we were meant to be doing homework. Then Philip, Joanne, Susan and band made their appearance, looking glam and effortless, they were too cool as ‘Sky’ pulsed throughout the theatre while Oakey’s luscious and layered vocals began our set list. Love the ethereal backing vocals on this song too. A delicious taste of what was to come. Such a commanding presence from Oakey, statuesque and handsome. Everyone looked smashing and it was the biggest thrill finally getting to experience all this in such a stunning venue. The State Theatre acoustics are always a step above. ‘Mirror Man’ of course began the high energy dance charge. I noticed I started to slide forward off my seat and chair dance, both feet moving everywhere. ‘You know I’ll change, if change is what you require..’… those sexy vocals. I love Oakey’s tone and his voice is still so sublime. Such range, and the lyrics – we will get to hear so many of the best electro songs tonight. ‘Heart Like A Wheel’ and then ‘Sound Of The Crowd’, our first Dare album track of the evening. Love that bass and drum, I’ll call it ‘tribal synth’.
From ‘Soundtrack To A Generation’ to some old school poignant ‘Seconds’, with that chilling JFK music video footage appearing in my head. Haunting but with such great melody. Even being able to infuse politics and global criticism was done with such class, it is a mesmerising and relevant song, much like the next track ‘The Lebanon’. Powerful and extremely relevant, ‘And who will have won, When the soldiers have gone’. Unfortunately not much has changed since this song was written but the sound and production of this tune, and all of The Human League catalogue really, is still so fresh. ‘Human’ was gorgeous, as we knew it would be. Oakey’s vocals are so smooth and tender, as he sits on the edge of the stage for some brief moments. Then it was back to dance Heaven with ‘Open Your Heart’.
Throughout the whole night, Oakey was running here, running there, just using every inch of the stage to engage the crowd. He has such a seductive quality, I can’t even grasp the aura. I think I need another Human League gig to observe again. Deep and interesting, he draws you in and I want to know what else he’s thinking while he’s singing and chatting between songs. His fashion is just another aspect of this, modish and unconventional but so suited to him. Both Joanne and Susan are the same, doing their own thing, but working together while rocking outfit changes and just adding to the atmosphere of The Human League. Like a melting pot of abstract and art nouveau, if you can understand those eras of art. This was artwork coming to life.
That extra caffeine hit started working just in time once ‘Love Action (I Believe)’ started. So many songs that evoke different moments of your youth. The venue was one sweat-and-dance pit and I knew a few people who had travelled interstate following the band around. This comes as no surprise when they not only have some of the best tunes ever, but put on such a stellar performance. So addictive are The Human League live, I’m already thinking about when they can tour next. Then ‘Tell Me When’ begins with those distinct first bars….such a trait with this band, you only need to hear one bar and you know the song. I have so many faves, I can’t get even more excited than I already am, all you can do is dance and sing and enjoy. ‘It wouldn’t be so lonely, If Only I Could See You’… Love it! And again, ‘(Keep Feeling) Fascination’, so unique and the deep vocals are my favourite on this song, Oakey nailed it and I got goose bumps. Once ‘Don’t You Want Me’ graced our ears, it was frenetic. Of course, not just an 80’s staple, but a dance classic, like the rest. One of those songs that other people had wished that they written and composed. Correlating real life and stardom, I’ve always wondered how very true this song is, as it seems to document many stories that I have read over the years. The standing ovations proving just how loved and how loyal the Sydney fans are to these synth pioneers.
Moving into the encore, it’s the raw and entrancing ‘Being Boiled’. Wow, even more trippier than in usual listening mode, if that’s even possible. From the industrial, to the warm and fuzzy. The beautiful ‘Together in Electric Dreams’. Another classic and just another song we used to always request at the Retro Club in Sydney over the years. Oakey in cahoots with Giorgio Moroder, wasn’t that a coming together of two brilliant electro minds? Loved the Electric Dreams computer movie when I was a kid and like everyone else, when we hear just the start of the song, our insides get all lovingly twisted up and these ludicrous grins take over. A rare synth track that can make you dance and cry as you float. There aren’t many tunes like this that rouse that sort of an emotion and I’ve watched the affect of this song for decades. Pure bliss in 3.53 minutes. It was a special finale indeed as I watched friends, family, lovers and strangers come together. A stunning end, Human League, and seeing Sydneysiders so happy, in such an uncertain world, was wonderful.
Since the concert, I have been in the biggest HLH mode, which is a ‘Human League High’. Extremely satisfied but aching for more… hooked! We all adore the music but live it’s in another dimension. Listening, watching, feeling, dancing, singing. The Human League bring everything separate and together, it just works. Music and fashion, drama and performance. Summer in Sydney is shimmering that much more. Until next time.. Tell us when we will see you again…
© MARINA KNEZEVIC 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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