Live at The Refectory on Sunday, 28th October 2001
In all the years of being a fan this was the first time I saw Marc 'live'. I had seen former associates of his from Vicious Pink some time back. This was before its demise. For a short while, I had a correspondence with Brain and Josie of VP.
On the way to the Leeds Uni, I passed The Met' Bar and the volume nearly blew me into the road, but I didn't grumble too much as it sounded like Queen Adreena to me. When I eventually found The Refectory, I was surprised by the lack of signposts and the bad lighting. Not a place to walk alone, especially for the women-folk!
The hall, though buzzing with chatter when I arrived, wasn't exactly full to the rafters. It would, however, manage to get nearly two-thirds full later on. Most people dressed casual smart, but there were a few well (and some not so well)preserved fashion fossils from twenty years ago. It has to be said, the 'ladies' were the better preserved than the men. It just goes to show - there is life after 30!
It was heartening to see some students of today getting into the spirit of yesteryears' dress sense. A fleeting of interest was shown by the crowd after a waft from the dry=ice gadget. Just moments later a VERY noisy act burst into life before our eyes. The audience gathered closer to checkout the avalanche of thundering pop-rock. This five-piece earthquake was Fuzz Light Years! The first of nine tunes was a blistering instrumental, which I gathered was their theme-tune!
My own reaction was to forget being 40 and go with the surge of adrenaline now pumping round my veins. I LOVE this group!! They did remind me of many other groups of yore, but they made this sound fresh and vibrant in a way is rare in today's music scene, especially our brain-dead TV and radio.
Turner, the vixen vocalist, didn't look a day over 20, brought thoughts of Chrissie Hynde on 'E', Joan Jett, Kate from Queen Adreena, and that Saffron girl from Republica (From the rooftops, baby). During 'Interstellar Operator', Turner posed the popstar poses, swiveling her pelvis in her tight red trousers, reveling in the status of Soft Cell support act. She was lovei' it, lovin' it, lovin' it!! Good on her, I say. The rest of the group deserve plaudits too. the rhythm section was particularly strong and tight.
We were informed they have a new single out on 5th November called 'Me and You', which, ironically, wasn't one of their best songs. A dodgy choice indeed. I had trouble trying to locate this sin gle at the Indie stores in Leeds and would eventually find it at Virgin Megastore. Sadly a gig planned for Nov 24th at The Rocket was cancelled at the last minute form the groups' end. Stay tune with www.Fuzzlightyears.com
Before Soft Cell, the intermission seemed to go on as long as the support act were on, even allowing for the de-rigging of the stage. It was just my luck to be stationed nearest the wall, feet away from two very obnoxious and obviously pissed (already!?) Jimmy Somerville types. Hold your liquor or hold your gob, you little worms! To top that, to my immediate front-right-right were three very Overly built guys with little hair and necks bigger than my rib cage.
Well, it was time, and the whole place erupted as Soft Cell tripped the light fantastic onto the stage, and straight into 'Memorabilia'. We didn't need the Tardis to time warp back to the 80's, we were THERE! Marc cut a fine figure of a 44-year old, in traditional black, with a long leather jacket and cavalier swishing cuffs. Marc also verbally reminded us that David James Ball was there too. How could we miss him?
No messing, into 'Mono Culture' next. I was embarrassed to find that some songs were not entirely familiar to me and some were, but I was damned if I could remember titles. The stage set and lighting felt like 'Top of The Pops' had been brought to leeds. You could see where your £16 fee had gone. We weren't complaining though, we loved being there coz we still loved Soft Cell and we were letting them know it. It wasn't a case of looking through tinted retrospective eyes either. Marc and David were as good as they were 20 years ago, if not better!
As well as the mandatory oldies, there were newer songs for us and 'Divided Souls' should definitely be the new single for 2002. It was a chunky little stomper and the crowd was groovin' to it. Next we were given the prequel to 'Sat Hello Wave Goodbye' called 'Last Chance'. After another ballad called 'Sleep' or Skin Deep', Marc bedecked himself with a shiny red & white guitar and delivered 'The Best Way To Kill' from their 1984 'Sodom and Gomorrah' collection. The smoke machine was going crazy and so was the crowd. The atmosphere was clearly turning into a crescendo for both them, and us, and I'm sure almost everyone had a stain in their pants by the end. And - still only half way through the set.
Off came Marc's jacket and down to business. Through 'Holding Together Marc was dashing about the stage like some Gothic firefly after a shot of caffeine, nipping between the mic and a synth place around ten feet behind him and he would produce some very 'interesting' sounds. By this time the crowd were singing to almost every word. It was beginning to remind me of the 'Rocky Horror Show' followers, where they are as much the entertainment as anything else.
Song nine was another new one, 'Somebody,Sometime, Somewhere', with a bass line not dissmiliar to 'Divided Souls'. After the changing of a faulty mic, the relentless pace continued through 'Centre Of My Souls' to 'Torch' (at least, I think it what is was called, memory!). Everybody was singing in union once again and shouting "Hold me, hold me, hold me!". The entire room was basking in nostalgia and we felt 'young' again. The vocal synchronicity carried on through 'Bedsitter', into animated singing and appropriately timed handclaps, evoked to the chorus and verses of 'Tainted Love', twenty years after Soft Cell sytnesized the Gloria Jones northern soul classic and leading the front of what was the 80's hedonistic juggernaut.
After many bodies bopping up and down and clapping cracking into the air, the song morphed into 'Where Did Our Love Go?'. Quite surreal! Marc was thoroughly in his element now, barely containing his bemused delight at the Leeds crowd that were giving Soft Cell the home-coming they deserved. There was a 'lorra love' in that room that night!
As Dave and Marc left the stage, the crowd went ballistic with almost sonic whistling and roars for "more, more more!". We were not about to let them go quietly into that good night, and what seemed like an unseemly length of time- back on they came. Poor Mar just couldn't believe the reception he was getting from all these people. We wanted to make it a "very special" night for Marc and David because to us they ARE special.
Placing himself on a chair, the entire room sang 'Say Hello Wave Goodbye' back to Marc. I have to say, I felt a tear welling up to my eyes with the genuine love and appreciation being shown to Soft Cell. And off they went again, and yet once more the crowd called out for more. We had the bit between our teeth and we hadn't purged enough adulation just yet.
The final encore was 'Martin' and Sex Dwarf'. Now with a change of shirt, which would find its way to becoming undone, revealing a firm porcelain torso, Marc was on endorphin overload and whirling around the stage whipping the already ecstatic audience to fever-pitch, shouting "1-2-3-4-!" and we all went "Woooooo!" back. Shortly however the light came up and it was all gone - wush!
We all had a fabulous time and no doubt will be digging out the old records and maybe buying the new CD formats of this, that and the other, and penciling-in attendance for the next visit to Leeds. Stay informed on www.marcalmond.co.uk