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Heaven 17 - List Review

The Picture House, Edinburgh, Monday November 22nd
4 stars
The glossy sheen and contrarian radical chic lyrics of Heaven 17’s 1981 ‘Penthouse and Pavement’ album were as era defining as they came. Playing it in full thirty years on just as Britain’s Con-Dem Nation inspired recession bites deep, the band remain a well turned out brand who marry suburban wine bar white funk to the trappings of showbiz nostalgia rather than the New Pop entryist concepts of old.

Against a backdrop of video projections that look like some Neville Brody offcuts from back issues of 1980s style bible The Face, original members Glenn Gregory on vocals and cheesy compering and lone synth player Martyn Ware front a six-piece line-up that allows for some sublime slap bass action, and comes complete with commercial breaks to highlight B-side cover versions including ‘Are Everything’ by Buzzcocks, Jimmy Webb’s ‘Wichita Lineman’ and even a cheeky take on the Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me.’ After the euphoria of ‘Temptation’, a mournful piano version of The Associates ‘Party Fears Two’ brings about a reverent hush before another Human League favourite, ‘Being Boiled,’ allows us to party like it’s 1981 once more.

The List, November 2010

ends

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