35 years on from its 1983 release and The Luxury Gap is a prime example of how brilliant synth electronica can remain so fresh decades on. Not only that but the venue, the UEA at Norwich provided an intimate and engaging atmosphere for the group.
Lead vocalist Glenn Gregory and keyboardist Martyn Ware, joined by a superb ensemble managed to bring each track to life with enigmatic and electric energy, whilst interspersing wonderful banter in between. It was a touching sign of a long friendship and a genuine enjoyment onstage for the duo and their accompanying vocalists and keyboardist.
Opening with “Crushed by the Wheels of the Industry” was a great way for the gig and the album to begin, it set the mood wonderfully. By the time the third track, my personal favourite song “Let Me Go” (which is a favourite of the two band members also) had finished I was already satisfied, yet the remaining setlist only offered further enjoyment for me and the audience, (of which I was likely one of if not the youngest participant- I was raised on a healthy dose of new wave after all.)
“Key to the world” was an interesting track, mainly owing to Gregory’s comments that it was one they barely performed and that “it was the closest we’ve come to getting it right” whilst the double whammy of “Temptation” and “Come live with Me” were received with warmth and enthusiasm due to their familiarity and status as classic 80’s staples.
The final tracks from the album “Lady Ice and Mr Hex” “We live so fast” and “The best kept Secret” were indicators that the group could maintain their quality sound with non-single tracks. After the album was performed in its entirety, it was made clear that it wasn’t the end of the evening.
What I wasn’t expecting was for Heaven 17 to revisit the early days of the Human League (of which Ware and former band member Ian Craig Marsh were a member of from 1977 to 1980.) They played “Circus of Death” from Reproduction and “Crow and a Baby” from Travelogue alongside the signature early hit “Being Boiled” (played with the same keyboard from 40 years prior.) This was accompanied by a few tracks from their debut Penthouse and Pavement that we’re welcome additions.
Gregory and Ware also shared a moment with the best performance of the evening in a brilliant rendition of The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve lost that lovin’ Feeling” which saw them sharing vocals. The finale for the gig was a newer version of “Temptation” which was superb.
Overall this was a worthy follow up to seeing the group last year on their “Penthouse and Pavement” tour in that it was levels above in terms of the acoustics of the venue and how great the performances were. A highly recommended experience.
Best track: “Let Me Go”
Highlight: An enthusiastic Gregory going to town on an electronic drum before relenting a stick to an enthusiastic fan at the front.
By HW Reynolds
Images from HW Reynolds