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Manchester Apollo 17/12/03

Sure the tickets will read that the bearer attended a Human League gig, but this case is similar to so many in the fact that the paper never told the full story. Phil Oakley has been quoted as enthusiastically endorsing the ex Ultravox frontman John Foxx as "the best support we have ever had". However, this slot from the all singing all synthesising maestro, with help from the bouncy Louis Gordon was definitely for all intents and purposes a co-headline slot, with the appreciative audience realising this early on after hearing the poignant and laid back number from 1980 'No-One Driving'. This was mixed in with more frenetic tracks such as some from Foxx's latest album 'Crash and Burn', as he threatened to zap away the walls of the compact theatre.


The venue was full of onlookers mesmerised by this impressive array of music that two men and their synthesisers were producing. The electro genre is not exactly famous for poignant poetic lyrics, but the old track 'My Sex' contained a line that John Donne would have swapped his best quill for:

"My sex waits for me, downwind like a mongerel dog on a tightrope leash"

Naturally, the best reception was given to the final song; 'Endlessly' that could be described as one of the best songs Human League forgot to write.

"From the town to the country from the country to the town, join us come and join us, From the valley to the hillside from the hillside to the valley, join us, come and join us."

Phil Oakey along with stunningly dressed Joanne Catherall and Susanne Sulley, greeted the amicable crowd, as they meant to go on, and genuinely did want them to join in, from the punchy "Old Town" onwards, making the aforementioned lyrics ring truer than the fact that Shed Seven have finally split up. The crowd readily obliged as familiar sounds of "Love Action" rang through the cosy theatre venue.

The nostalgia fest continued with a hit soundtrack to the eighties, "Mirror Man" and political offering "The Lebanon" before the mood was quietened down a little for Susanne Sulley's solo, "One Man in My Heart" to which the dancing ended, and arm swaying started, whilst the crowd looked on admirably.

Back to the eighties with hit single and inevitable sing along tune, "Human," and infectious offering, "The Things That Dreams Are Made Of." More nostalgic sing-a-long material in the form of "Fascination" and upbeat "Tell Me When," before the one everyone was waiting for, admittedly or not, "Don't You Want Me"which undoubtedly started the Christmas festivities, it won't be the last time you will hear it before the new year either.

With many of the hits covered, the crowd was left wondering whether an encore would happen, and what it would be, suddenly realising "Electric Dreams" was a sure bet for one song, and were left wondering about the other if there was to be one. A costume change later and the band was back on stage, as the crowd was proven right, with the opening chords to "Electric Dreams" rang out, instantly bringing them to life once more. This was the chance for new guitarist Nick Burke to shine, as he performed his own guitar solo, to a great reception. Wondering what the last song might be, the crowd was put out of their misery soon after, as the ending tune was the catchy sing-a-long "The Sound Of The Crowd" which described the reception perfectly. The Human League gave an energy and nostalgia packed show, full of favourites and new tunes to the lesser trained ear, the Christmas party feel really brought the place to life, and they are a band who has not lost their touch.

David Adair & Katherine Tomlinson