Here & Now - Manchester M.E.N Arena - 16.11.01

Its strange to think that one day we'll be sat back in are rocking chairs laughing at the prospect of a 90s reunion tour. Or at least like the majority of the audience tonight settled down with kids, the 2 bedroom semi and in a comfortable office job. Oh boy, what a laugh it is to be young!!! Saying that though in terms of showman ship the 90s were a bit passé and unless you're going to do it properly and get the Spice Girls, Take That and Britney on the same bill it wouldn't exactly work would it. As we walk into the Arena the line-up doesn't exactly having us jumping for joy, but when previous 80s reunion tours have included Culture Club, ABC and the Human League this couldn't help but be a let down. The greatest act this tour has achieved is keeping the bands out of Brannigans for a couple of years for by the law of averages this time next year is where most of them will be.

T'Pau, Nick Heyward and to a lesser extent Go West all suffer the same problems i.e. not actually being that good first time round anyway. The youthful Go West at least deserve a round of applause for pulling out all the stops and actually having the trick of having that one great song in "The King Of Wishful Thinking". The first real highlight comes in the form of Heaven 17 - a band who are as relevant today as they were back in the 80s. For anyone who has totally written of the whole decade as a big mistake this band were the one's who had beats as hard as the Prodigy and melodies as sweet as Underworld. "Fascist Groove Thang" got us dancing awkwardly in the aisles and "Temptation" gets updated with a 90s remix and lifts the roof off.

Highlight of the show goes out to the funky Ali G wannabe, Ben from Curiosity Kills The Cat. Transforming himself from a toff in a beret to the funkiest cat this side of Jamiroqai central station. With only 4 songs including the singles "Name & Number" and "Down To Earth" the only problem is that they didn't play for long enough and at these types of reunion tours that's a rarity. After that its all down hill with Kim Wilde and the atrociously smug Paul Young. The former in all honestly should have stuck to gardening rather than the stage and while the former generation may see her as a sex symbol she's more Billie Piper than Britney Spears. We all love "Kids In America" but that's what we pay VH1 for each month - kindly fuck off and concentrate on competing with Charlie Dimmocks of this world!!! Paul Young really isn't worth mentioning apart from the fact that if you had the choice between an evening with Cliff Richard and an evening with Paul Young it would be a difficult choice. I think that says it all really!!!

Here & Now 2001 wasn't the greatest example of the 80s and if this was football these acts would be the players on the bench. However not all is lost as Here & Now 2002 looks like the place to be - Adam Ant, Spandau Ballet without the Kemp Brothers, ABC and Howard Jones make up the line up so get your tickets early.

Alex McCann