The Human League - Manchester Apollo - 17.12.03

The Human League have been together for well over twenty years. Unlike a lot of their contemporaries the Sheffield electro pop combo have never split up. They remain true survivors. The trio have just released a Greatest Hits album and headlined the 80s nostalgia Here And Now Tour a few years ago, but they're still relevant today. Liberty X used elements of the track "Being Boiled" on their "Ain't Nobody" bootleg chart smash and Gareth Gates pilfered from "Human" on his new album.

The eternally youthful Phil Oakey is still a commanding yet affable frontman, while his two disco dollies Jo and Susan look and sound like angels. The two women go through a few costume changes tonight and some of their outfits are out of this world. Truly sensational. The live set up is completed by a percussionist, keyboard player and guitarist. And the audience is like one large Christmas party revelling in the fun, excitement and sheer joy of it all. As the opening bars of "Love Action" reverberate around the venue, this blast from the past is the first of many hit singles performed tonight alongside "Mirror Man" and the less well known, but equally memorable "Louise" from their "Hysteria" album. The funky "Things That Dreams Are Made Of" is followed by the wondrous "Fascination". Phil reminisces about visiting the Apollo in the 70s to see Marc Bolan while his singers praise the hot spots of Manchester night life especially Canal Street. There are no surprises or unnecessary pyrotechnics, just a set of crowd pleasing songs. The Human League's most famous single "Don't You Want Me Baby" obviously receives the most applause despite it being used in a ghastly car commercial. "Electric Dreams" is bolstered by a strong vocal from Phil, lush harmonies from the girls, superlative synths and an axe wielding guitar solo.

For the encore they play "Sound Of The Crowd" which was recorded before Phil even met Jo and Susan. The ninety minute set flew by and you could tell The Human League had as much fun as their fans. Let's hope they return next year with a new album.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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