Friday, March 16, 2001

Last night, I saw the first Soft Cell performance for 17 years. Obviously, I loved it. I'm hardly going to come back saying "that Marc Almond, he's so crap".

And, boy, am I ever not.

This was just a short 30-minute set to launch the venue, Ocean. The bad news is it's tucked away in Hackney. The good news is it's a glorious venue. Externally, it retains the facade of the Methodist Hall it once was, bathed in blue light, with projections in the windows. The interior is industrial - all steel girders and exposed fittings. As for the toilets - well, they're very swish.

Being a launch party, the place was filled with record industry folk, press and, er, Hackney Council workers. There weren't many fans, but those there were had seen better days. In a telling age thing, I slipped off to the loo to do drugs - Wind-Eez capsules. Also, being a launch party, the drinks were free all night. Which helped get us through support band Add N to (X). Then Suggs came on and announced Soft Cell.

Marc slinked onto the stage wearing what looked like a black satin sheet. With his hair gelled up in a blonde quiff, he now looks like the girl in Roxette. Or a smaller Brigitte Nielsen. Only much less butch. Dave Ball looks like he had just wandered in to fix the heating and got roped in to help on stage.

Inevitably they opened with their first single, "Memorabilia", the song Marc claims invented techno. Or house. Or something.

Marc said "you all still want that 80s thing. What is it about that, huh? What is it about today that makes us all want the 80s back?" This was the cue for stunning new song [yes! new Soft Cell songs! how weird is that?] "Monoculture", an attack on today's bland, homogenised gay "scene".

Then another new number, "Divided Souls", already sounding like a future Soft Cell classic. Then came a Soft Cell classic from the past, "Forever The Same". Marc prowled around the stage, all ice-queen imperiousness, Dave grinned like he couldn't believe his luck, I lost it.

However, "Last Chance" is the sound of Dave and Marc plagiarising themselves. Look, guys, you wrote "Meet Me In My Dreams" together back in 1991, there's no need to rewrite it ten years later. Jonathan will have the complete set-list. I can't remember the running order, but they did "Bedsitter", "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye", "Torch", "Sex Dwarf" and the full "Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go" medley.

As the show progressed, the years stripped away, and I felt younger and younger, till I ended up the teenager I was in 1982, excitedly grabbing people and screaming. If Soft Cell can be this good at an industry showcase, how brilliant are they going to be tonight?

No comments: