Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

The Pink Flamingo...
The Guardian aren't always that keen on giving out high star ratings for the theatre, film and pop concerts that they review. However today's review of Soft Cell's gig in Leeds got the full FIVE STARS! Wow!

Soft Cell
5 stars - Leeds University
Dave Simpson - Guardian Unlimited
Tuesday October 30, 2001

Suicide and Sparks laid the groundwork, but between 1981 and 1984, Soft Cell defined the synthesiser duo. All these years later, they are still playing to packed houses - and opening number Memorabilia sounds anything but dated. This is either because the song has been meticulously updated as a post-techno gay disco anthem, or because Soft Cell were so ahead of their time in the first place.

Everybody's making comebacks nowadays, but Soft Cell have more to offer than nostalgia. With Marc Almond's solo career at a halt, and David Ball refreshed by his time in 1990s dance act the Grid, the duo seem determined to prove that they can once again be vital.

To assist, Almond has a new blond crop that takes years off him, and a nervous, twitchy dance that matches the music's speedy urgency. A clutch of new songs update the classic Soft Cell sound; along with Almond's soaring vocals and Ball's Motowny synth melodies, the bass frequencies do things to the human body that are illegal. Monoculture spells out the manifesto: "Why don't I give up, submit to the God of the bland?" crows Almond, answering his question with the vigour of the song.

While their trademark stomp benefits from modern technology, not everything has changed. Almond - the Leeds Warehouse cloakroom attendant who chose to live out his fantasies - is still immersed in lowlife. Divided Souls finds endless sleaze in the life of Marvin Gaye; Last Chance introduces a lover who "looks like a lady of the night, in see-thru mac and 60s tack". And yet, there's something cuddly about Almond. When he sings Bedsitter, the timeless tale of clubland alienation, generations cheer in empathy. Many in the crowd bear the ravages of 1980s hair abuse, but promisingly, there are hordes of younger fans too.

As the hits trundle out, it's difficult to resist the sense of danger, sex and radicalism that permeates these songs, especially vibrant in pop's current, colourless void. After Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, it's time to say hello again, and welcome back.

Soft Cell play Brixton Academy, London SW9 (020-7771 2000), tomorrow.

And I shall be there to see them! Can't wait. It'll be my fifth time of seeing them this year so far.

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