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)…”
<cue needle rip sound FX>
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 fb 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!
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