Thursday, 14 October 2021

Blancmange - The Brook, Southampton - October 13th, 2021

It'd been a long time coming

I can't remember exactly when I'd booked my ticket to go and see Blancmange (Now Neil Arthur and a couple of musicians), but the event was first scheduled for 24th October 2020, a leisurely Saturday evening.

With all the COVID chaos of the last 2 years, though (which had meant my last live music event was February 2020), it was rescheduled twice and here I was on a Wednesday in 2021.

The drive down the M3 was easy enough and I arrived in time to see Finlay Shakespeare, the support act, take the stage.

I can see why his music might seem a good match to a Blancmange audience, but he definitely didn't 'float my boat' - With a strong electronic backing he just seemed to shout his lyrics and get increasingly sweaty.

To be fair, some of the music was quite good, but his delivery was decidedly off-putting. If he cares, I'd suggest he might be better off to find a good vocalist and form a band.

He got polite applause, but I definitely wouldn't pay to see him, if I'm honest.

There was around a 30 minute hiatus while we waited for Blancmange and then two young musicians appeared to take up their places behind a synthesizer and a electronic drum kit.

Neil Arthur then appeared, looking fit and youthful (and remarkably like a friend of mine!) and launched into a rather John Cooper Clarke-like song about winning Crackerjack pencils. There were a couple of tracks like this in the setlist, odd, but not too distracting - I believe they were both from the latest album, but I'll admit I'm only really familiar with Blancmange's early material.

That early material was fairly represented with Waves, Living On The Ceiling, Feel Me, The Day Before You Came (sadly the keyboard level rather swamped Neil's voice on this one) and the encore, Don't Tell Me, all featuring.

With a lot of albums (most from the last 10 years), there was a lot of material I was unfamiliar with, but a lot was enjoyable, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the early stuff the most. On this occasion, being on a nostalgia trip was fine with me, but the whole performance was upbeat and enjoyable.

I wasn't in the best frame of mind for an evening out, my mother having been admitted to hospital that morning, and I didn't know for sure when I set out if I'd attend (I found out she was staying in and I couldn't visit, on the way), but I had a good time and it was an enjoyable and welcome distraction.

Worth the price of the ticket, certainly, and it was great to be able to enjoy a live gig again - Next up, the Goan Dogs again!

Setlist (From Norwich, but I think it's right):
Game Above My Head
In Your Room
I Can't Explain
What's Your Problem?
Clean Your House
I've Seen the Word
Not a Priority
What's the Time?
This A State
Last Night (I Dreamt I Had a Job)
The Day Before You Came(ABBA cover)
I Prefer Solitude(Fader cover)
Living on the Ceiling
Feel Me
Blind Vision
Don't Tell Me

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