Blancmange were part of the original movement of electronica and remained at the forefront of the British scene throughout the 80s, setting the foundations for what has now grown into arguably one of the most diverse genres in the world. Despite such an early founding, Blancmange are still rocking and tonight’s show at Concorde 2 has shown that they are still a name that is worthy of their legendary status.
Opening tonight are Curxes who start the evening off in style through some raw old school synth and strong vocals from Roberta Fidora and accompaniment from her ‘Backing Bear’ (yes it is as bizarre as it sounds). The two certainly provide an initial sparking of audience interest through some great, eye-catching stage presence and a stellar amount of powerful, diverse vocals. Curxes are definitely a new wave band that are worth listening to if you want to relive a piece of old school nostalgia and disco.
A short interval and Blancmange enter under a cover of dancing psychedelic projections, their rendition of ABBA’s ‘The Day Before You Came’ opens and sets an oddly sinister tone to the showcase tune. Frontman, Neil Arthur, holds such a distinct harshness yet strength to his vocals whereby each lyric contains a prominent level of depth and mysticism. The track is met well and Neil soon introduces the title track to the newly released Unfurnished Rooms, the track upholds its darkened themes and the Concorde 2 sound system does justice to the song’s strong kick of electronic fuzz and bounciness.
Neil is a stunning performer and captivates the room through his incredibly passionate stage presence and various hyperbolic facial expressions, but he is never afraid to include a fair amount of humorous conversation to the audience, giving a remarkably personalised feel to the evening’s set. Combinations of older and newly released material all make appearances and it is incredibly clear that Neil is proud to be able to keep performing his tunes to rooms of this size. Whilst the newer material does sound phenomenal and still holds as much of an edge as the classics, when tracks such as ‘Waves’ from the 1982 release Happy Families are announced, the crowd seem just that little more enthusiastic to chant along to the numbers.
One personal highlight comes in the form of ‘Last Night (I Dreamt I Had A Job)’, the fuzzy, contagious, track really captivates Neil’s playful performance style at its peak and is a great example of how less definitely is more. The crowd are eager to join in with this one and the backing projection continues to supply a solid level of additional ambience, adding yet another strong visual dimension to the performance.
Of course ‘Living On The Ceiling’ makes for the climax of the evening. Once more the audience are up in arms and unleash a wave of chants throughout the colossal number, but yet another highlight of the evening comes forth when the track reaches its ending. The instrumentals cut and the entire room proceeds to chant the hook of the song in unison, even Neil seems surprised by the level of response and can be seen with a huge smile across his face, it’s evident how much his music still means to both him and his fans alike.
A night with Blancmange is a true throwback to the creation of a genre, Neil and the band are still at the top of their game and clearly know what makes a banger. The songwriting is clever, the vocals are brutal and that 80s synth is still oh so sweet. Unfurnished Rooms is another great addition to the artist’s repertoire and there is definitely something for everyone to enjoy at a Blancmange show. I’d highly urge you to get down to see these tracks live as the recorded versions still cannot match the raw intensity of Neil’s flamboyant and extravagant performing style.