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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

xPropaganda @TheGarageHQ "The first time I met Claudia Brücken in 1985 I fell in love. The second time I almost got thrown out. Last night I fell all over again" Review ->

The first time I met Claudia Brücken I fell in love. The second time I almost got thrown out.
In late May 1985 me and a couple of my Uni mates got a train down to the Ambassadors Theatre in that there glitzy London. We were there to catch an early promotional showcase by record label ZTT at a week-long residency called "The Value of Entertainment". When we got there the auditorium was full of journos and few fans of Frankie Goes To Hollywood (not that they were in attendance), of The Art of Noise, and of Propaganda. Propaganda's first two singles (Dr. Mabuse and Duel) had at that point fared quite successfully in the charts. We were keen to see what FGTH and AON's label stablemates were like live. Our hopes were high.
The showcase started with the Art of Noise (Paul Morley addressing the audience after three dancers had performed to some AON tracks), then Anne Pigalle, then Andrew Poppy, and then Instinct. Foot tapping with impatience we wait. And waited. Then the interval came. Ho hum. Off for a drink.
Back in our seats and suddenly here they were. Right in front of us. Propaganda in the flesh. They had finally, magically appeared on stage before our very eyes and we were simply beside ourselves. We later discovered that they had been joined on stage by former Simple Minds bassist Derek Forbes and ex-Japan drummer Steve Jansen, but we didn't know that then. We just knew we were super excited. 
The band was due to debut their new single p:Machinery. We edged forward in our seats. 
And then, it started; power, force, motion, drive. Power, force, motion, drive. It was epic. And we loved it. We danced about in our seats and applauded wildly when they finished. Bravo! Bravo! Another hit!
So excited were we that on the way out of the theatre we bought tickets for the following night. So we traipsed all the way back to Uni getting the last train and then all the way back again to London the following evening. We'd be hearing p:Machinery twice in one week! Yay!
So on that second night we waited impatiently in our seats once again. Surrounded by a completely different set of fellow audience members who, like the previous night, had absolutely no idea what they were about to hear. Lucky us. We wanted to tell eveyone what they were going to hear. But we didn't - we're not complete knobs. Or so we thought.
The first half dragged even more than the night before. Come on. Come on.
Eventually the lights dimmed again in the second half and sure enough Propaganda took to the stage once again. We were overcome with excitement. There a hush. You could have heard a pin drop in the theatre. Wait for it....  The opening bars of p:Machinery started....
And three things happened all at once. Each in almost slow motion.
We three rose as one, jumping up high screaming at the top our voices almost launching ourselves at the stage in excitement wildly applauding and cheering.
Four security men all took a large stride towards us.
The band recoiled and stopped the playback. They stared at us. The entire audience turned round to look at us. Silence. Oh shit. One of the security men edged along the seating. He took what seemed like an eternity. He reached us and told us to sit down and stay sat down. We did. Red-faced. Earth swallow us up. Please!
Looking back, we were being complete knobs. We really were. But we were just so excited to hear a song that we knew was brilliant and that no one else in the venue apart from the ZTT label and band had heard before. And of course, the band had stopped because they were actually recording the performance for release later (or so we discovered).  
Luckily no restraining order was issued then or now. 
Hence my ability last night, 37 years later, to enter The Garage in London's glitzy Islington unhindered to see p:Machinery performed live once again.
Propaganda as a band are now defunct of course but we (Darren, Eddie, Niall, Sam, I and many other men of certain age) were there to see it's latest phoenix like incarnation - xPropaganda. Claudia Brücken, Susanne Freytag and producer Steve Lipson are back together as xPropaganda, promoting their new album The Heart Is Strange at a one-off gig.
The Heart Is Strange is great album. Not scaring the horses, or indeed fans of Propaganda's seminal album A Secret Wish, it is an album full of lovely ethereal songs touched with Lipson's knob-twiddling genius. And Claudia Brücken's ice-queen vocals give a suitably deadpan, note-perfect performance in wonderfully stark contrast to those dreamy songs. It is a juxtaposition that really worked. Especially when perfomed live, as evident on-stage last night.
At her side Susanne Freytag banged the drum (both figuratively and literally) for spoken-word co-vocal performer of the night.  And Steve twiddled his knobs.
And when the opening notes of p:Machinery started up at the end I shrieked. I jumped up and down. And I danced like it was May 1985. This time with no security men to stop me, I fell in love all over again.
Set List
The Night
Chasing Utopia
Beauty Is Truth
Only Human
Don't (You Mess with Me)
No Ordinary Girl
The Wolves Are Returning
Dr. Mabuse
The Murder of Love
Sorry for Laughing (Josef K cover)
Ribbons Of Steel


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