They’re doing it to me again! I have a single day between major concert events to blog and some serious UK-only concert action taunts me with its suggestion of the unthinkable… nay, unimaginable. Yesterday morning I received the following communication from the official Scritti Politti mailing list. They almost never send out so this must rank as pretty special. And it is. As previously mentioned, Virgin Records is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a series of not only releases but also concert events. I knew that groups like Simple Minds and P.I.L. were playing, as well as Heaven 17. Here is the entirety of the communique from Scritti Central:
“We’re playing a one-off show on November 11th as part of Virgin’s 40th anniversary celebrations. It’s at Koko on Camden High Street in London. There will be sets from Human League (early material), Scritti Politti, and Heaven 17 ending the night. Gerald Casale from Devo will be DJing.”
So even on the face of it, teaming up Scritti Politti and Heaven 17 is a wonderful pairing. Two groups I have inordinate fondness for and who share a friendship and camaraderie. It makes perfect sense to have them together to honor their label of origin. Having Gerald Casale of DEVO as the DJ makes my New-Wav-O-Meter peg in the red. They let the 20 megaton payload drop casually with the third sentence. “There will be sets from Human League (early material)…”
STOP THE PRESSES!!!!! I have long read that Martyn Ware would like to do a special show where the early Human League material got its due. Heaven 17 have been doing the occasional early HL classic in their live set now for several years. I’d pay grandly to hear the inhuman majesty of “The Black Hit Of Space” live with or without Phil Oakey singing. For Phil’s part, he has gone on record that he’d be up for work with Martyn Ware again. Both have come to grips with the Great Schism engineered by Bob Last. Both have succeeded in the marketplace in different ways. Both have legacies that have continued through today. So it’s not impossible on the face of it… just infinitely improbable [as Douglas Adams would have it].
Naturally, thoughts have turned to which songs from the “Reproduction” and “Travelogue” era I’d like to hear played live for the first time in 33 years… or ever, probably in the case of more than a few of these. Given that three acts on the list is a lot, I think the following is a great short set of electronic goodness:
- Being Boiled (Travelogue version)
- Dreams Of Leaving
- A Crow And A Baby
- Almost Medieval
- Empire State Human
- You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
- The Black Hit Of Space
“Marianne” is from their “Holiday ’80” 2×7″ double pack and it’s long been a true favorite of their oeuvre for me. As it turns out, Ware also thinks highly of it. Enough to contemplate adding it to the H17 live set list! So if there was ever an obscure B-side that one might hear 33 years later live, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. “Dreams Of Leaving” is perhaps my favorite apartheid song apart from “Biko” and proof that Martyn Ware was politically conscious even before Heaven 17 staked out their claim on the dancefloor with left-wing epics like “Fascist Groove Thang” and “Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry.”
Of course, I looked high and low on the Web for more on this issues but all I could ever find was the language “Scritti Politti, Heaven 17… and special guests.” And yet, you, I and the lamppost know that if there was going to be a concert of early Human League material being performed for the first time in generations that it would be shouted from the rooftops and touted highly. Especially since these events have all proceeds going to the War Child charity. They could probably get away with £100 tickets for such an event, rather than the more modest £21 that they’re asking. If you are reading this in the UK, please purchase tickets here. While an early Human League gig would have unbelievable power, the pairing of Scritti Politti plus Heaven 17 with bonus Gerald Casale is not, as they say, chopped liver.
My bubble is somewhat burst by this recent addition to the Scritti Politti FaceBeast page:
“Scritti Politti – A previous version of this post mentioned the Human League. Ignore that. That was me being stupid. • Yesterday at 2:16am”
So either Green Gartside misunderstood what was going down or he inadvertently let the cat out of the bag. We’ll know for certain by November 12, 2013!
– 30 –
A communication from the official Scritti Politti mailing list? Stop the presses! I jest but am glad you have such passion. Wake me up if and when Spandau ever decides to tour the U.S.!
orange county dj – Well, if you only get one email blast per 6 months from an artists’ list that you signed up for, it gets noticed. And yes, dangle a show with the possibility of a set of early Human League material to me and I’ll treat it with the gravity it merits. Oh Spandau. I’d go, but I might regret it. The band that put “Chant No. 1” to wax is long gone, I’m afraid. Hell, I’d settle for the band that recorded “Communication!” What I fear is the band that recorded “Heart Like A Sky.” What’s your fave rave Spandau release?
My dream HL (early) set list: Being Boiled, Marianne, Blind Youth, Empire State Human, Toyota City, Boys And Girls, I Don’t Depend On You and You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling. Boys And Girls will always be that lost moment for Human League Mk1. It is epic and screams single, hell HIT SINGLE to me! To keep it an electrically charged night I would wish that Heaven 17 does a show that is filled with deep cuts from the first 3 albums: Geisha Boys + Temple Girls, The Height Of The Fighting, Play To Win, Best Kept Secret, Key To The World, Let Me Go, Five Minutes To Midnight, Shame Is On The Rocks and close with And That’s No Lie…
As for Scritti, as long as he avoids anything from Anomie & Bonhomie…just my personal thing.
As for Spandau, I’m afraid I’m with Monk on this one…I doubt they would ever focus on the first two albums again and in The States, they didn’t really bother the charts until True. Mind you, a show that focused on True and Parade I would go to in a heartbeat.
Echorich – So right on “Anomie + Bonhomie!” If I’d wanted a Mos Def album that’s what I would have purchased. A kind friend once made me an EP version of that album minus the hip hop.
That is a kind friend…
Echorich – I had immediately bought the US CD single for “Tinseltown To The Boogie Down” and reported my dismay to this friend even as I traded that CD in record time at the store where I had bought it. I was amazed that he even listened to the album to do that for me.
Aw c’mon, Anomie is not that bad! Apart from “tinseltown…” which I really don’t like. The rest of it is pretty good, and there are some serious gems like First Goodbye, Born To Be, and Brushed With Oil Dusted With Powder.
jsd – Agreed! And that’s how I came to have a 6 track edit of the album! I want to hear Green sing, not hired hands. I loved his last album best of all and await his next waxing.
Marianne is a great overlooked gem in the early HL canon. I love it so much I did a cover of it. https://www.dropbox.com/s/eqhl4xceboo3rw6/bass%20kittens%20-%20marianne.mp3 Enjoy!
jsd – Ha, ha! That was brilliant! Thanks for sharing such a berserk cover of an amazing tune!