Heaven 17 Deliver Human League Legacy set at Koko

Heaven 17 reanimated classic Human League at Koko © 2013 Carsten Windhorst

Heaven 17 reanimated classic Human League at Koko © 2013 Carsten Windhorst

Well, the morning of Tuesday, November 12 was punctuated by word from commenter Echorich on the previous night’s Heaven 17/Scritti Politti concert to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Virgin Records at London’s Koko venue. I had noted the event earlier and had mused about what was in store since the email I had gotten from the Scritti Politti list had mentioned a Human League set of pre-schism material. Martyn Ware had mentioned this off and on for years as a goal to pursue but the wording on the email suggested that Phil Oakey might be appearing. As it transpired, that did not happen. apparently, Green misunderstood the events unfolding.

At the time I had hypothesized a vintage Human League setlist that included these raving faves.

  1. Being Boiled (Travelogue version)
  2. Marianne
  3. Dreams Of Leaving
  4. Crow And A Baby
  5. Almost Medieval
  6. Empire State Human
  7. You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
  8. The Black Hit Of Space

Sure, I’d like more, but one can’t be too greedy. Echorich had by this time hit the inevitable cell phone videos already on the web and was effusive in his praise of how adroitly Heaven 17 managed to capture and revisit the material. Now, the full set list is online and how did my dreams stack up against reality?

Human League / Heaven 17 | Koko, London | November, 11, 2013

  1. Circus of Death
  2. Marianne
  3. Crow and a Baby
  4. Nightclubbing
  5. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
W.X.J.L. Tonight
  7. Empire State Human
  8. The Black Hit of Space
Only After Dark
  10. Being Boiled
  11. Fascist Groove Thang
Crushed By the Wheels of Industry
  13. Play to Win
  14. Let’s All Make a Bomb
Geisha Girls and Temple Boys
Come Live With Me
  17. Let Me Go
Penthouse & Pavement

Wow! That is pretty amazing! Six of the eight tracks that I picked and another four, besides for an evenly split set between early Human League and Heaven 17. I really wish that I could have been there for this. Even the H17 set was expertly chosen! I’ve never seen The Human League live and really, post “Travelogue” I would imagine this to be a drily perfunctory experience. As much fun as the Mark II records could be, [usually they weren’t] it was the early Human League that kept its hold on my heart over the years. As great as Heaven 17 were, I’d still take the first two HL albums in a heartbeat. They were such deeply weird, yet thrilling records. Boldly synthetic at a time when only non-conformists dared to dally with synthesizers.

One hopes that Gregory and Ware were sufficiently jazzed by this one-off to attempt this sort of thing again. This music deserved a further airing because the current Human League wouldn’t touch this material with a ten foot pole. Not that I’d want them to, frankly. No, it’s right and proper that Ware is taking his legacy into his own, capable hands. That Glenn Gregory was a fan of the original Human League is only icing on the cake! He missed out on being their singer since he was living the photographer’s life in London at the time and that was when Phil Oakey entered the story. This had to have been fun for him as well. In addition to those who managed to get the all important tickets for Koko.

Martyn Ware has stated that he hopes to finally tour Heaven 17 in America next year; possibly with DEVO, whose Gerald Casale he’s friends with. Casale DJ’d this event and if the two seminal synth bands journey across America next year, I’m hoping that at the very least they will gift us with a song or two of The Human League as well. I’ve been waiting a long time to hear this music live!

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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3 Responses to Heaven 17 Deliver Human League Legacy set at Koko

  1. Echorich says:

    Spine tinglingly exciting!!! Crow and a Baby is still freaking me out. Glenn owned it! Martyn’s arrangements were really spot on and honored HL Mk 1’s sound. Martyn and Glenn as post modern Righteous Bros. on You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling was simply inspiring. Glenn still knows how to dress as a wide boy banker and Martyn looks like your second cousin who’s profession has always been questioned but you are sure that he’s in organized crime! Stunning stuff!


  2. chas_m says:

    Well if that happens, I think we have our lineup for PPM MEETUP 2 — ELECTRIC (DREAMS) BOOGALOO!!


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