Artist: Heaven 17
Title: Live From Metropolis Studios
Genre: Synth Pop, New Wave, Pop
Release Date: 23rd September 2013
Label: Demon Music
Just a couple of weeks after the release of Martyn Ware's new album under the name of British Electric Foundation, this long awaited Live CD/DVD is finally released! Recorded on January 2012 at the Metropolis Studios, this live event took place for a limited number of privileged fans (not even 200 lucky ones). 17 tracks are contained on this recording, covering both huge hits and more obscure ones. On the “greatest hits” part, we have rejuvenated versions of ‘We Live So Fast’, ‘Crushed By The Wheel Of Industry’, ‘Penthouse and Pavements’, ‘Fascist Groove Thang’ and of course ‘Come Live With Me’. Funny though, when you ask around about HEAVEN 17 outside UK, this is not the most famous 80's band... but once you broadcast all those hits, the usual comment is “OMG of course I know that one, and that one too, oh, and this one too”... Which is quite odd as, let's be honest, those guys purely and simply defined the sound of the all 80's to early 90's sound of pop. Period!
Long time before NEW ORDER or PET SHOP BOYS, they merged black soul funk music (slapped bass, funky rhythm guitars, female vocals) with dark electronic and experimental new wave (Doctor Ware as his peers kindly nick name him is a true synth wizard). In 1981, they simply paved the road for the above mentioned NEW ORDER and PET SHOP BOYS, but also more mainstream sound of the all-white soul movement (Blow Monkeys, Sheffield's friends of ABC) and later Stoke, Aitken & Waterman. Without HEAVEN 17, nothing would have sounded the same in the charts. Simple as that. Not to mention the production of the massively successful debut album of Terence Trent d'Arby or the hugely successful come back of Tina Turner with ‘Private Dancer’. Of course, all those hits are splendid and those new live version rock the house... but HEAVEN 17 becomes even more interesting when it comes to darker tracks: ‘Let's All Make A Bomb’, ‘Soul Warfare’ (awesome bass line), ‘Wichita Lineman’, one of the most beautiful vocal performances by Glenn Gregory.
The band goes acoustic with a splendid version of ‘Geisha Boys and Temple Girls’ and a surprising and very funny short acoustic cover of HUMAN LEAGUE's ‘Don't You Want Me’. Later on, another acoustic moment comes up with piano driven ‘Dive’ taken from the clearly underrated 1996 album ‘Bigger Than America’, that was a great return to the electronic roots of the band. Another peak moment is the seven minutes an half version of ‘And That's No Lie’, a song starting very pop/ soul alike who turns into a very progressive trip after three minutes. Driven first by backing vocals almost a capella, followed by a great piano solo, very jazzy before all other instruments come back in, and after a last chorus, once you think it's over... it ends up on a great Glenn's vocal performance on top of soft percussion and muted guitars... outstanding!
Martyn Ware being the founder of HUMAN LEAGUE and the mastermind behind the two first experimental albums, it's naturally that, alongside with ‘Being Boiled’ that always stood in HEAVEN 17's repertoire, another LEAGUE's track is performed, the very, very experimental ‘Black Hit Of Space’. I don't even think that Phil Oakey has performed this one with the LEAGUE in a long time. And it's fair to say that the original spirit of HUMAN LEAGUE, “Back to the day of futurism” as Martyn introduced it, was in the Metropolis Studios that night... and I wonder while listening to it what could have happen if Glenn Gregory initially staid in Sheffield and have been the singer of HUMAN LEAGUE in first place (Glenn went instead in London to try pursue a photograph carrier and later join Martyn and Ian March as HEAVEN 17 when Phil Oakey fired them from HL).
The concert ends up on ‘Let Me Go’, funny though, not their highest charts selling single but the one that remained in the spirit of everyone, sung with a lot of heart and emotion. I've often been disappointed by previous live version of it, but this one is clearly one of the best performance of it. ‘Temptation’ follows in a funny Moroder alike version with an ‘I Feel Loved’ section to start it. To be honest, I really much prefer the “demo style version” they plaid at the ‘Penthouse and Pavement 2010 Tour’ and with Claudia Brücken at her gig at London's Scala. This one is in fact close to the remixed version released a while ago. And the final song, as often, is of course the HUMAN LEAGUE hit ‘Being Boiled’... superb as always.
On the DVD Side, it captures perfectly the intimate atmosphere. It's very well filmed, not edited between songs as the CD, and therefore, all “talkative” moments between Martyn, Glenn and the public is there. As a bonus, a nice on site documentary. To sum it up, a must have for all fans and a great way for newbies to discover one of the most important band in the story of pop music.
01. We Live So Fast
02. Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry
03. Penthouse And Pavement
04. Geisha Boys And Temple Girls
05. Don't You Want Me
06. (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
07. Let's All Make A Bomb
08. Soul Warfare
09. Wichita Lineman
10. And That's No Lie
11. I'm Gonna Make You Fall In Love With Me
13. Black Hit Of Space
14. Come Live With Me
15. Let Me Go
17. Being Boiled
DVD Bonus : Documentary
Martyn Ware – Keyboards
Glenn Gregory – Vocals
Billie Godfrey – Backing Vocals
Asa Bennett – Guitars
Julian Crampton – Bass
Beranice Scott – Keyboards
Al Anderson – Drums
Bonus : 9
Total: 9.7 / 10