The Human League offer a salutary lesson in longevity – commit to your catalogue, invest in your stagecraft and give the fans what they want to hear. This handsomely appointed show, the latest of many from the hardworking Sheffield synth pop pioneers, opened with a thunderous synthesizer chord, announcing their debut single Being Boiled, and a poised and stylish Phil Oakey, looking like a cyber monk and declaiming deeply about that perennial pop topic of silk farming.
The Human League ****
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
He was quickly flanked by the band’s not-at-all-secret weapons, Joanne Catherall and Susan Sulley, who deserve a long service award for their commitment to average singing yet crucial stage presence.
Currently promoting a retrospective anthology, they took a democratic approach to their catalogue, which meant airing a handful of lesser fluff such as Heart Like a Wheel and Soundtrack to a Generation beside their overwrought political howler The Lebanon.
Clearly some songs are more equal than others, and their run of classic synth pop hits from the early Eighties is still hard to beat for unexpected earworm melodies, whether sung by the core trio or delivered in somewhat streamlined fashion by a smart backing band with detachable keytars.
Don’t You Want Me was still greeted like the kitchen sink anthem it is but the more leftfield, frantic pop numbers The Sound Of The Crowd and (Keep Feeling) Fascination, Motown stomper Mirror Man, beloved album track The Things That Dreams Are Made Of and the euphoric Oakey solo hit Together In Electric Dreams are as well preserved as Oakey himself.