Citrus Club, Edinburgh, Friday February 3rd 2012
When eighties tribute band support act Party Fears Three dedicate their bombastically unsubtle cover of David Bowie's Ashes To Ashes to Steve Strange, who appeared in the song's video as part of the Bowie-influenced New Romantic scene of flamboyantly apparelled clothes horses and dressing-up box dandies, it was almost an accidental epitaph for what followed. Because when the somewhat fragile-looking original Blitz-kid and face of New Romo supergroup Visage finally takes the stage with a perma-smiling bottle-blonde co-vocalist beside him for his first ever Scottish show, he nearly comes a cropper after a dodgy microphone serves him the double indignity of cutting out on the opening number before giving him an electric shock as he tries to fix it. Mind you, starting off what back in the actual 1980s was called a club PA – a somewhat lonely looking artist running through a couple of hits to a backing track played from the DJ booth - with a brand new song from his forthcoming Detroit Starrzz album was never going to be a winner either. Especially when it's preceded by Strange asking an audience made up of what appears to be several office parties who got lost en route to George Street if they'd seen the previous day's edition of Loose Women. Once an already fragile-looking Strange, all dressed up in big hat and checked jacket like a cut-price Boy George turned surrealist spiv, has recovered, he and Blondie make a fair fist of Mind of A Toy, even if Strange's voice, bereft of studio gloss, is seriously in need of some autotune. And indeed some more basic technical help besides, as the abrupt end to an otherwise game Night Train attests to when the backing track starts stuttering like a Paul H-H-H-Hardcastle remix. Strange forgets his set list, declares how he'll never fly Easyjet again, hams it up like billy-o on the “definitely not about me” Diary of A Madman, dating from his last attempted comeback, then jumps aboard the Olympics gravy train with Aiming For Gold, which he talks up as some kind of anthem for England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. “We're all Celts,” he says, pronouncing it 'Selts'. After what looks like a premature if somewhat wise departure, Strange's thoroughly showbiz female foil attempts to whip up some belated enthusiasm for an encore of Visage's bone fide hit, Fade To Grey. A football style chant brings him back, but it's all a tad anti-climactic. Yet, despite such an under-whelming display, one can't blame Strange for attempting to reclaim the spotlight in light of the umpteen resurrections by his peers, and one shouldn't write him off too soon. Look what happened to a similarly unstable Adam Ant. To cut a long story short, if Strange got himself a band, sorted out his patter and made an effort with a half-decent stage show, he may yet prove that romance, new or otherwise, is not dead yet.
The List, February 2012 ends