Friday, April 2, 2010


When I saw the advert that Heaven 17 was coming to Ghent performing "Penthouse and Pavement" I couldn't believe my eyes.
Not because it was Heaven 17 as not only I already saw them once (and they were quite good) but their recent material isn't exactly mindblowing but just because I always thought "Penthouse and Pavement" is one of the greatest synthpopalbums ever.
From the original line-up there's only singer Glenn Gregory (of course!) and synthplayer Martyn Ware left.
Their debutalbum might be a milestone now in pophistory but it wasn't at the time of the release.
None of the four singles coming from that album hit the charts and a DJ even condemned their debut "We don't need this fascist groove thing" to the black list of the BBC.
Even "The Luxury Gap" had a lame start as it was only the third single ("Temptation") that climbed up the charts and this in contradiction with their mates from Sheffield, Human League, who were already conquering the world.
But this was then and this is now.
From the moment Glenn climbed up the stage like some dandy, it was all clear that we would be enjoying a great evening of 80's pop.
The whole A-side got played and it was sooner ended than everyone could have thought but Glenn announced : "This was the A-side. Before we turn the record we give you some things we have released during BEF".
What's BEF? Well in fact it was a sort of production company that promoted some stuff from their mates (Human League, Associates) but it's true that they can never be forgiven for the fact that BEF was responsible for the worst come back of the 80's : Tina Turner.
These BEF-songs were weak and wasted time as we heard an acoustic version from "Don't you want me?", a dreadful version from Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" and "Ball of confusion" which was like...well...Tina Turner!
The sooner we got back to "Penthouse and Pavement", the better!
And as soon as Martyn started his Bach-inspiredsynths we knew "Geisha Boys and Temple Girls" had set in.
Soon followed my fave Heaven 17 tracks like "Let's all make a bomb" and "The height of the fighting".
After "We"re going to live for a very long time", we knew the album was over but the band had some little treats left.
They played a nice uptempo-synthversion from "You are everything" and after they ended the set "I'm your money" no one could understand why this wasn't a much more known song.
They came back twice. The first time to do three songs from "The Luxury Gap".
An extended version from "Temptation", "Let me go" and "Come live with me" which is still the best ballad of the 80's.
The last song was the song everybody was expecting, "Being Boiled" even if someone in the audience requested "Louise".
Heaven 17 are a band from whom you have nothing to expect, their best years are already long over but on stage they still matter.
Perhaps they're a jukebox but a jukebox that is still functioning.

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