Ok you are all thinking what am I doing at a Blancmange gig! Well guilty pleasures etc. I quite liked them in the 80’s. When I found out they were on tour promoting their new LP (Unfurnished Rooms) I thought it worth £25 for the night out. It appears that now only Neil Arthur carry’s the flag for these understated synthpop merchants – and carry’s it well he does!
The set was a good mix of old and new and Neil looked very handsome and dapper in his dark blue suit. All three of the band looked like they were having a good time as were the very enthusiastic audience. I’ve no idea what the capacity is but it looked fairly full to me so Blancmange do have a good following still – even if a few of them looked like they were on their last legs.
Neil has a penchant for walking to the front of the stage and staring lingeringly at the crowd with slightly scary demented eyes. Well it certainly attracts your attention! He also likes a bit of banter with the audience in-between songs and came across as a top bloke! I must admit I did chuckle to myself as Neil’s the only person I know who sings in a broad Lancashire accent!
The new songs were actually pretty good – I might well invest in the LP/CD/Download as the lyrics seemed interesting and the tunes held up well. As you can imagine the old hit songs got the crowd singing and bopping along – especially at the end of Living on the Ceiling – see the video link below.
They started off understatedly with a lovely piano cover of ABBA’s ‘The Day Before You Came’. Then came the new songs (about a 3rd of the act) of which ‘Anna Dine’ and ‘We are Chemicals’ were the best in my opinion – to be fair each new song was greeted rapturously. Finally, the jacket came off for the aggressive ‘I Can’t Explain’, well it was bloody hot and sweaty in there. Then came the well-known audience sing-alongs – ‘Living on the Ceiling, Blind Vision’ but only one encore ‘Don’t Tell Me’. Neil was obviously in a rush to get to the merchandising stand for signatures and photos – well you’ve got to upsell to make a living these days!
I really enjoyed the entire evening (approx. 1 hour 20mins) and the only slight downside was that they didn’t play one of my favourites ‘That’s Love That It Is’, plus the bar was shut!! Can’t get a drink at 22:15 – I blame Brexit!
SETLIST (and links to Videos on my YouTube channel)
- The Day Before You Came – (Mange Tout 1984)
- Unfurnished Rooms – (Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
- We Are the Chemicals – (Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
- Game Above My Head – (Mange Tout 1984)
- Red Shift (Blame Thrower) – (Commuter 23 2016)
- What’s the Time? – (Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
- Last Night (I Dreamt I Had a Job) – (Commuter 23 2016)
- Waves – (Happy Families 1982)
- Gratitude – (Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
- Anna Dine – (Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
- Running Thin – (Happy Families 1982)
- I Can’t Explain – (Happy Families 1982)
- Old Friends – (Unfurnished Rooms 2017)
- Living on the Ceiling – (Happy Families 1982)
- I’ve Seen the Word – (Happy Families 1982)
- Feel Me – (Happy Families 1982)
- Blind Vision – (Mange Tout 1984)
- Don’t Tell Me – (Mange Tout 198)
Before I forget the gig was opened by Curxes (a duo of singer and keyboard/guitarist) who were a bit Cocteau Twins with attitude. Alas, the sound mix for this was appalling so I’ve got no idea what the hell she was singing about, less even as to why the other half of the act was dressed as a bear. All I know is that they have an album ‘Gilded Cage’ out in a few weeks.
Perhaps I’m doing them a disservice but based on the current act I would not pay good money to watch them again. Perhaps that’s the reason for the bear outfit?
Marko – 8 Oct 2017