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Heaven 17

The Picture House, Edinburgh
4 stars
There’s riots on the streets, a Tory government attempting to manage
capitalism in crisis, and now even a Royal wedding in the offing. What
better time to further revive the 1980s than have Sheffield’s other New
Pop auteurs revisit their suburban wine bar white funk classic
Penthouse and Pavement in full for the first time since its 1981
release. Now resembling a pair of sharp-suited IT execs, surviving
original members Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware are more than happy to
embrace the contradictions once more, from the slap bass subversion of
(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang – a single somewhat
hysterically banned by Radio One’s Mike Read for being a bit too left
wing – whilst remaining appositely euphoric and aspirational as was the
era’s wont.

Playing as a six-piece in front of a set of neon projections that could
have been designed by Neville Brody for a Face magazine video shoot,
any pretense at entryist conceptualism on the opening date of this
thirtieth anniversary tour is shoved aside for a cheesy showbiz
approach, as Gregory becomes both MC and a guide through the band’s
radical chic back pages.

Each side of the original LP is broken up by an excursion into B-side
cover versions, from Buzzcocks Are Everything to a take on Wichita
Lineman that sounds like something Ennio Morricone might raise an
eyebrow at. Gregory even picks up an acoustic guitar to segue into a
cheeky version of the Human League’s Jo Callis-penned Don’t You Want Me
smash hit, before getting to the gospel bump and grind of his own
finest moment on Temptation, as Heaven 17 get back to the future one
more time.

The Herald, November 24th 2010

ends

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