Heaven 17 @ Sheffield City Hall

Any conversation about Sheffield’s musical output over time wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Heaven 17, and based on their performance at the City hall, quite rightly so. With a very theatrical and seemingly ’80s inspired stage setting, they wasted no time in getting things started, coming straight in with ‘Fascist Groove Thang’. By the opening of the second track (titular track ‘Penthouse and Pavement’), the whole of the hall was on their feet, in spite of it being a seated show. This set the pace for the rest of the evening, with high energy and a very comfortable atmosphere throughout.

The first half the gig consisted of the band’s debut album Penthouse and Pavement being played through in full, and the amount of people that could be seen singing and dancing along pays testament to how well the record has stood the test of time. 35 years on from the release, people were reacting as if it were still a new release, which says a massive amount for the duos writing skills.

With well rehearsed choreography, the backing singers that joined Glenn and Martyn on stage only added to the nostalgic feel of the performance, as well as providing a range of vocal harmonies to thicken out the whole sound. The end of this ‘half’ was topped off with a warmly received rendition of ‘Being Boiled’, before breaking to make way for B.E.F (British Electric Foundation), who in spite of their release having been put out in 1980, were performing live for the first time.

This performance from B.E.F provided something for everyone, with guest appearances from a range of genres (Peter Hooton from the Farm, soul star Mari Wilson, and Glen Matlock of Sex Pistols fame). Each star performed a reworked version of one of their more popular hits, followed by a cover that wouldn’t necessarily spring to mind, which gave the whole gig a more variety show type of feel.

As if there was any other way of finishing the show, Glenn joined Martyn back on stage for a final few tracks, including ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’, a call back to Martyn’s Human League days, and a Bowie cover.

It wouldn’t have been right to leave without hearing ‘Temptation’, but I think they knew that, and didn’t disappoint with one last thunderous singalong! Taking a more sombre, but incredibly moving approach, rather than finishing on ‘Temptation’, they brought things down with a touching tribute to Colin Vearncombe. Colin, better known as Black, the artist behind ‘Wonderful Life’ was scheduled to join the pair on this tour, before his tragic death earlier this year.

This could have taken the edge off of what had been an incredibly upbeat evening, but the band managed to handle it beautifully, and round off a wonderful show with a very poignant end. Truly a credit to Sheffield.

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