Thursday, 9 February 2012

Steve Strange and the Detroit Starrzz

Citrus Club, Edinburgh, Friday February 3rd 2012
2 stars
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 

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


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