Tonight wasn’t going to be a nostalgic reminiscence of the eighties as Neil Arthur, the remaining founding member of Blancmange isn’t the sort of musician that wallows in the past but somebody who is pretty focussed and looks towards the future. Synth pop pioneers Blancmange shone brightly for about seven years in the late seventies to mid eighties before breaking up to retain their friendship. Stephen Luscombe and Neil Arthur returned in 2011 with a brand new album, `Blanc Burn`, their first for a quarter of a century. Sadly,
Stephen’s ill heath meant an early retirement from touring but Neil has carried the duo’s banner and has released over a dozen albums since then. There was no planned album due out this year so a thirty eight track Everything Is Connected – Best of Blancmange 1979-2024 has been released which kind of draws a line in the sand and allows us a modest look at the band’s career to date.

There was a novel idea for this eleven date tour in that Neil’s side project The Remainder would play a brief support show each evening before his main event. The threesome released an interesting album `Evensong` last July and shared a number of tracks from said release in a hypnotic, pulsating beat driven thirty minute outing that was well received which had the trio dressed in t shirts that bore the bands `re` logo.

There was little fuss as Finlay Shakespeare on synths, Liam Hutton on percussion / synths and Neil Arthur (suited and booted) took to the stage, to share a delightfully mesmerising ninety minutes of pulsing dance beats and sounds. There were tracks from throughout the bands lifespan with the spellbinding `Last Night ( I Dreamt I Had A Job)`, slightly unnerving `We Are The Chemicals`, thoughtful `Some Times These`, introspective `What’s The Time` and pounding `Again, I Wait For the World` which I have to say was immense.

What I really enjoyed about this evening’s performance was the feeling of inclusiveness as the singer made us all feel as if we were involved and also the amusing sense of self deprecation that he alluded throughout.

There was a real feeling of genuine warmth that is sometimes lacking in these events. Understandably the last two songs this evening were the hits `Living On The Ceiling` and `Blind Vision` which sent this nigh on sold out crowd into hysterics. The trio soon returned and left us with what I’m sure was `Don’t Tell Me.

I last saw Blancmange as special guests to Japan on their `Visions of China` tour in 1981 and have been trying to catch them on the few occasions they have made a visit to my hometown  but without success. But that changed this evening and while my recollections from forty years ago are a little hazy, tonight’s wonderful gig will remain with me for some time to come.

The remaining eight dates of this current UK tour recommences later this week and if you can get to any of them, a terrific night’s entertainment is in store for those who make the effort

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