Concert of the Year: B.E.F./Heaven 17 @ The Roundhouse Oct. 14-15, 2011

Martin Ware + Glenn Gregory ca. 2010 © Tracy Welch

Next month there is yet another weekend of concerts at The Roundhouse in London that I’d sell a kidney to attend. Last year it was the John Foxx analog synth show [where Gary Numan was relegated to a dj set!], and on Friday, October 14th, formerly reticent live performers Heaven 17 are performing their second, classic album “The Luxury Gap” in a live performance. That was a fantastic followup to the crucial “Penthouse + Pavement” debut album that turned the neat trick of taking the band from cult heroes to chart toppers while being a vastly different and expansive work that managed to sound like honest growth rather than dumbing down. No easy trick, that.

So yeah, the show will be great. Still, in this modern-a-go-go environment, you can barely swing a dead cat without hitting a band doing a “classic album” show of some sort. What makes this one so special, you might ask? Well, for starters, Martin Ware and  Vince Clarke’s sound design company, Illustrious, will be mixing the sound in 3D. That’s not chopped liver, but it’s the next night at The Roundhouse that makes this one look like the “opening act” that it is. On the 15th, the show will be the debut of The British Electrical Foundation in a concert of Music Of Quality And Distinction – Live! B.E.F. was the “holding company” for all of Martin Ware’s productions outside of H17 and the 1981 album “Music Of Quality + Distinction vol. 1” is a high water mark of postmodern cover albums. It can be argued that they pioneered that conceit with its creation in the first place! [err… apart from David Bowie and Bryan Ferry, of course!]

So the MOQAD show will feature the band members of Heaven 17 playing with a host of guest vocalists, just like the two MOQAD albums [1981/1991]. Various singers will reprise their older roles and preview new songs from the yet to be released Music Of Quality + Distinction vol. 3 [it’s about time!]. Vocalists will be drawn from the band’s huge circle of friends and associates including:

  • Boy George
  • Midge Ure
  • Kim Wilde
  • Green Gartside
  • Sandie Shaw

It your brain hurting yet? If you have any B.E.F. albums, you know how idiosyncratic and accomplished they are, so this is absolutely a once in a lifetime show.

In the weeks building up to the event, Martin Ware and Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17 are doing a number of podcasts to drum up interest. Their monthly gig at Ditto TV, “Music For… A B.E.F. Special” has a new two hour webcast devoted to the “Music Of Quality + Distinction” series and event, which you can listen to here. I strongly recommend listening to it because you will be treated to rough mixes from the new MOQAD album as well as previously unheard recordings of Glenn singing The Associates “Party Fears Two” from their earlier tribute to Billy MacKenzie concert. You will rightly wonder how on earth anyone else could begin to approach that song but after hearing it, you’ll admit that Gregory found the right way to approach that iconic number and it’ll break your heart. Speaking of Billy MacKenzie and breaking your heart, Martin also plays an alternate mix of Billy’s cover of Roy Orbison’s “It’s Over” that features just the singer and strings which he says is from the forthcoming B.E.F. boxed set! You heard it here second, people!

Elsewhere Absolute Radio has a podcast [Electronic 80s with Heaven 17] hosted by Martin and Glenn where they interview their friends who are performing at the B.E.F. concert and the first episode has Green Gartside on the mic, which can be heard here. They also have the second podcast up with Kim Wilde to be heard here. Two more episodes will follow shortly. Being that I’m stuck in North Carolina with no one fronting me five grand to attend, I’m eternally grateful for the podcasts and [hopefully] inevitable DVD which is as close as I’ll be able to get to an event like this. The last few years have seen a rich wave of Heaven 17/B.E.F. activity and I find it hard to imagine anything topping this MOQAD show, but fervently hope that the guys will pull another rabbit out of their hat later on down the road. The new MOQAD album “Dark” will drop next year and I’m sure they’ll have something amazing up their sleeves for that!

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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5 Responses to Concert of the Year: B.E.F./Heaven 17 @ The Roundhouse Oct. 14-15, 2011

  1. ronkanefiles says:

    When’s the AC:All DVD of this show scheduled to hit the racks in Nishi-Shinjuku?

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      ronkanefiles – Probably some time around October 22, what with broadband enabling such productions these days. That’s something I haven’t thought of before. How accelerating computer/networking technologies transform the bootleg industry.

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  2. Echorich says:

    I am tearing the stubble from my very bald head! H17/BEF in October and Magazine in November. I just came back from two weeks in Spain and it is just on cost effective, even with airmiles, to do right now. Only decider on Magazine is that it seems Barry Adamson will not be pulsing the bass on stage this time around…a true disappointment.
    Lottery needs to be won and a proposal to Martin and Glenn can then be made to do a one off show in America, play P&P, Luxury Gap and MOQAD for me…and of course some notable others! Maybe if I got Martin and Vince Clark an invitation to present their soundscape technology at USF that would sweeten the pot….ah dreaming can be fun.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – You know where I stand on the B.E.F. show. I’m a bit disappointed that Barry Adamson has bowed out of Magazine, but really, I’ll buy anything with Howard Devoto singing on it, no matter what they call it. My friend at ronkanefiles saw Magazine numerous times in the SoCal zone, damnit! I still have to convert my 2009 Magazine DVD to NTSC so I can watch it on my obsolete TV!

      Re: Martin Ware @ USF. Not so far fetched. I believe it was 2009 when he gave a talk at a college on the West Coast [either UCLA or USC – Long Beach, I believe] on immersive sound architecture. Sounds like a natural for New College! Er, that is, if your sub-cretin Governor doesn’t outlaw education in your state first!

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      • postpunkmonk says:

        My deepest apologies to offending any Floridians with that sarcastic comment as my current home state of North Carolina as of the last elections now has its own sub-cretin governor who is in fact outlawing education, as well as non-Republicans and hell, even science itself!

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