Darker. Weirder. Cooler. Heaven 17 Are Playing The First Two Human League Albums in 2020!

Martyn Ware has been threatening to do this for years…

Gott Im Himmel! Chasinvictoria just sent this notice to me yesterday. It appears that the gloves are off. Heaven 17 are fully stepping into the breach left by the now moribund Human League and performing a pair of one-off [two-off?] concerts in the UK next year where Martyn Ware, along with Glenn Gregory and the rest of the Heaven 17 live band [Berenice Scott – keys, Kelly Barnes, Rachel Mosleh – vox] will be performing the first two Human League albums in their entirety!

Yes, we know that Martyn had long since mended fences with Phil Oakey and has tried to interest him in reforming the original Human League lineup but Phil has not been interested in revisiting his [more interesting] distant past for one reason or another. I can imagine that Susan and Joanne must have had zero interest in that gambit for obvious reasons. Phil’s loss is our gain as the two best Human League albums have been suppressed in the live arena for too long!

Vintage, real, Human League

It has since come down to Heaven 17 giving that deeply strange and wondrous material the love it deserves in the face of the current Human League’s disinterest. Fortunately for us, Glenn Gregory has been more than fine with wrapping his lungs around that early material; which has salted many a Heaven 17 concert of recent vintage. Thankfully! But performing the entirety of “Reproduction” and “Travelogue” makes these two dates enter the realm of “Organ Auction Live Events.” It’s been some years since a concert of this caliber has sprung up and made me take serious heed of my inability to afford a quick pop over to the UK for a gig. And adding to the vibe considerably will be the fact that Mr. Ware tells us that the full multimedia spectacle that was an early Human League show, will be up for our inspection. One wonders if he would be able to get Philip Adrian Wright [slides, synthesizers] to reprise his visual role for these shows. If not, they had better find someone else with a huge collection of Gerry Anderson slides!

Heaven 17 | “Reproduction” + ”Travelogue” Tour | UK | 2020

Thursday 19th March, 2020 | Sheffield City Hall
Friday 20th March, 2020 | London Roundhouse

Tickets went on sale last Friday, July 5th here, so I am guessing that the shows will sell out in short order! I am anguished by these two shows since I cannot afford the high cost of a UK trip for a concert even if two of my favorite Post—Punk albums will be played in their entirety. As much as I love the first two Human League albums, I have to keep my options open in case there will be another John Foxx concert in the next year or two. I can only afford the debt of a single trip to the UK unless radical things happen to me financially. And I would wither if I said “to hell with it” and booked a trip for this [and it’s tempting…] only to have a John Foxx + The Maths concert manifest shortly afterward!

That said, “Reproduction” and “Travelogue” are two of the finest, most arresting examples of late 70s synthesizer “pop” that I have had the pleasure of hearing for the last 40 years. In the grand scheme of things, I consider “Travelogue” to be the best of its breed, and second only to “Systems Of Romance” on my list of favorites. Next to people like Gary Numan, there’s no comparison! I like Numan, but there is little else with the sound design and point of view that those first two Human League albums give me. I’m so charged up that even though I reviewed “Octopus” a few weeks back, I feel like dicing into a Human League Rock G.P.A.® just so I can wax eloquent about those first two albums! Of course, that means that I will need to acquire copies of “Credo” [which is currently in the cheapie bin at a local shop – once I get to that part of town it’s mine] and even [gasp!] “Crash” in short order. Any thoughts on that in the meantime?

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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18 Responses to Darker. Weirder. Cooler. Heaven 17 Are Playing The First Two Human League Albums in 2020!

  1. Echorich says:

    My wheels are turning. Only floor standing at the Roundhouse show available as of today, 2 tickets would only set me back approx $100. And then there is the possibility of some VIP treatment similar to last winter. I just need to make two Whatsapp calls this week and I will start paying down one credit card for the flight and one for the dinners out with friends. Getting Circus of Death, Crow And A Baby and Being Boiled, using the original synth last year was magical. Getting Empire State Human, Blind Youth, The Black Hit Of Space, Toyota City and just possibly the entire The Dignity Of Labour, boggles my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Special opening act: THE FUTURE! With a mini-set including the entire “Dignity of Labour” EP! Let’s not forget the “Holiday 80!” EP in its entirety! Or maybe special guests: THE MEN!!


  2. Logan Sky says:

    I have purchased two standing tickets, I can keep one in reserve if you really think you could make a trip to the UK! I also have a spare room, under Sky Studios, so you could doze off afterwards whilst listening to more Future sounds.. ;-)

    Liked by 2 people

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Logan Sky – You are indeed a scholar and gentleman, sir! I am gobsmacked at your most generous and tempting offer!! That you are willing to pony up both a ticket and a crash pad for me is making my head whirl. If only airfare to London weren’t in the neighborhood of $4000 [Yeah, I looked…] I would be making plans right now to have what I’m sure would be a life-changing experience. Finally dragging my carcass to England. Hearing one of my top five Post-Punk albums [that would be the almighty “Travelogue”] as performed by Heaven 17 [who are a bucket list item with a bullet themselves] and having one of my favorite synth players [and a Visage member, to boot, for crying out loud!] play the host for me is, on the face of it, like a dream come true. In fact, not going into serious debt and saying “yes, please,” must surely constitute mental illness on my part! Can I get back to you on that?!


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Logan Sky – I have PM’d you on your offer on two of the addresses I have for you. We are ready to make this happen! Once I verify the particulars with you first. I can drive to Orlando [staying with Mr. Ware] and fly round-trip from Orlando to London for $360! That’s a no-brainer!!


  3. negative1ne says:

    hi mr monk,

    i’m not a fan of the early human league albums, ok, maybe a few of the singles.

    but i find the whole point of this wrong. sure some members of heaven 17 were in
    the band, and i love heaven 17.

    but just to hear them covering both the albums without philip oakey is just heresy,
    and a weak attempt at doing it. its fine when they heaven 17 plays a few cover
    songs in their concerts, but doing the whole albums is just a wasted opportunity.

    they should stick to their own music.



    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – I greatly prefer the first two Human League albums so we have to part ways here. Given that Phil has no interest in honoring his history with the act, I’m thrilled that H17 are finally doing this on their own after threatening to do this one way or another for years. I am trying to go, so we’ll see if we can work out the details. I hope to meet as many of my great British commenters as I can if the trip happens.


  4. Andy B says:

    Negative1ne’s comment reflects the opinions on the Human League forum I frequent. Considering that Martyn co-wrote these tracks he has as much right to play them live especially, as Monk has pointed out, Phil has no interest in playing them. Hope you can make it over Monk.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Andy B – Well, I’m still waiting to hear back from Mr. Sky. I won’t book a flight until I have a black and white view of things from his perspective. Once I know what time works for him, I’m on it!


      • Duncan Watson says:

        I just checked some prices for you. Standing tickets still for sale, around £33 including all the most-justifiable of ticket-handling fees (sarcasm). Hotels; cheap if you book early enough and can be obtained for around £60 per night. Flights from Raleigh to Heathrow, leaving 19th, back on 22nd, about £1,000. So, the concert and accommodation are the least of your costs! You might need to make a holiday of it and see what other gigs you can squeeze in whilst in London, which is what I would do

        Liked by 1 person

        • postpunkmonk says:

          Duncan Watson – Well, I have the generous offer of a ticket and lodging from Logan Sky last Tuesday in the comments. That got the mental wheels turning big time when my usual stance is “I can’t afford this.”

          My wife has found that if I drive to Orlando (8 hours) I can fly from Orlando to London on British Airways for a scant $360. Two hours away from Charlotte and the price was twice that. I can stay in Orlando with Mr. Ware and his family so… Yay! How long I stay in London affects the ticket price so I need to clear the timing and duration of the trip with Logan first. I have not heard back from him yet.

          I don’t want to make a big production of this trip. It should be brief, but thrilling. I hope to meet some of the names and faces who are PPM regulars. And there will be other nights open that might have other exciting acts I might not ever see in The States. My wife won’t be going along. She’s indifferent to Human League/Heaven 17 but we have been waiting for a John Foxx show for the last five years. If that happens, then we are “all in” for a big trip taking in the UK and some of Europe in at least three weeks. A loan will be taken out for that endeavor.

          Foxx has been working on the new Maths album and Robin Simon is guesting on guitar. I sincerely hope that there will be at least one show to honor it. And why wouldn’t Robin Simon be on the stage with them?! Foxx has been laying low in recent years and the pace of his work has slowed following a twenty year tear through an enormous amount of work. I hope he still has one more show still in him as we will make it happen.


  5. With no disrespect intended to those who either don’t care for the early HL albums compared to Dare and post-Dare material, or to those who simply prefer that the original vocalist be involved: as someone who got to hear three of these tracks performed by H17, I can assure you that Glenn Gregory (at least nowadays) would have been a far better choice for HL vocalist. He loves this material to pieces and sings it in a manner that respects the guy who did it first but with a stronger range and tone, to be frank. Reserve judgement until you hear the inevitable bootlegs, I say!


  6. Terry says:

    Will they be recording these gigs for dvd


  7. matt fiveash says:

    it’s gonna be brilliant. m

    Liked by 1 person

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