Everybody's making comebacks nowadays, but Soft Cell have more to offer than nostalgia - despite the title of the show being 'Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret 40th Anniversary 2021 Tour.' With Marc Almond's solo career at a temporary pause, and David Ball refreshed by his time with dance act the Grid, the duo seem determined to prove that they can once again be vital.
True to that vitality, a clutch of new songs from their upcoming album *Happiness Not Included 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. Not that the new songs hold a torch (geddit?) to the old songs mine you.
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. And yet, there's something cuddly about Almond. When he sings Bedsitter, the timeless tale of clubland alienation, generations cheer and laugh in empathy. Many in the crowd bear the ravages of 1980s hair abuse, but promisingly, there are some younger fans too.
Between 1981 and 1984, Soft Cell defined the synthesiser duo. All these years later, they are still playing to packed houses.
Looking back, Almond and Ball have always been one of pop’s unlikeliest couples: Almond, camp as a row of tents, Ball looking as if he would be just as happy fixing your boiler as putting together some of the catchiest hooks in the history of electronic music. And yes, we are glad to see them back on stage (and still alive!), given that their initial brief four-year career epitomised the live-fast-die-young school of pop stardom. Let's not forget their last two album titles — The Art of Falling Apart and This Last Night in Sodom — accurately flagging the drug-fuelled lifestyle that led to the band’s break-up and Almond’s breakdown.
We loved the show and of course sang along to every word of Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret played track-by-track in Act II.
The setlist was:-
Bruises on All My Illusions
Happy Happy Happy
Heart Like Chernobyl
Kitchen Sink Drama
Where the Heart Is
The Art of Falling Apart
Tainted Love (the Gloria Jones cover)
Chips on My Shoulder
Bedsitter (12" Version)
Say Hello, Wave Goodbye