Music review: Human League, Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow

There is something quite touching about seeing Phil Oakey, Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley still performing together as The Human League almost 40 years after they met in a Sheffield disco (famously, Oakey asked the teenage schoolgirls if they wanted to join his pop group).

Philip Oakey and Joanne Catherall of Human League PIC:  Marcial Guillen/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Philip Oakey and Joanne Catherall of Human League PIC: Marcial Guillen/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Human League, Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow ****

For Catherall and Sulley, this is the only job they’ve ever known. That’s rather beautiful. These days, the League are essentially an oldies act. I don’t use that term pejoratively: when you have a hit-packed catalogue as rich as theirs, a failure to exploit it would be utterly self-defeating. Anyway they’re too likeable and classy to be dismissed as mere nostalgia-pedlars.

Backed by three Men in Black on synth drums, synths, keytars and occasional guitar, the trio went through several costume changes – Oakey arrived on stage wearing a cassock – and a rapturous Oakey-cokey of synth-pop bangers including Love Action (I Believe in Love), Mirror Man, (Keep Feeling) Fascination, The Lebanon and, inevitably, Don’t You Want Me.

“We could stick the microphone out front,” beamed Sulley, “and you lot could sing every word!” They did more than that. One of the night’s sweetest highlights was the entire crowd joining in with Open Your Heart’s whistling keyboard riff.

Opening their encore with the ominous electronic

brutalism of early single Being Boiled was perversely amusing, but following that with Oakey and Giorgio Moroder’s gorgeous, bittersweet Together in Electric Dreams was the perfect way to end such a celebratory evening. We will always be together. - Paul Whitelaw