The Human League in concert in Newcastle 1978 – 1987

The Human League in concert in Newcastle 1978 – 1987
humanleague I first saw The Human League when they supported Siouxsie and the Banshees at Newcastle City Hall in 1978. This was the Banshees first major UK tour and it gave the Human League a chance to play before sold out concerts halls up and down the country. I was impressed by this new band and their electronic synth-based sound, which stood out from the norm at the time, when everyone else was playing standard guitar-based punk. I’d also heard their first single Being Boiled which was also pretty good, and live they played a pretty strange and fine version of Gary Glitter’s Rock n Roll Part 2. Phil’s long one-sided fringe was pretty strange and outrageous at the time; you couldn’t fail to take notice of this band. The next time I saw the Human League was at Newcastle Mayfair in 1980 (May 15th). I seem to recall that I was with my friend Ian and that we went down to the Mayfair late (probably around 10.30) after going to a 10CC concert at the City Hall. Its always strange going into a packed gig late, when the band is already on stage; I’ve done it several times and I always feel quite out of things. When we arrived at the Mayfair the Human League were already well into their set; I remember some pretty heavy dark electronic stuff being played. This was at the time of their second album Travelogue, and the last tour with founding band members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, who left the band shortly after this gig and went on to form Heaven 17. Many people thought that this might have been the end of the band but remaining members Phil Oakey and Adrian Wright continued, moving The Human League towards a new musical direction with a new line-up. In fact the next stage in the Human League story was pretty strange, and a spot of good luck or genious, depending on how you look at it. Oakey, in a panic to complete the band’s line-up so that he could honour existing tour dates,went out in Sheffield city centre clubs with the intention of recruiting female backing vocalists. In the Crazy Daisy Nightclub he spotted two teenage girls dancing together on the dance floor. Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall were schoolgirls on a night out together. Oakey asked both girls to join the tour as dancers and incidental vocalists, and history was about to be made. The Human League morphed into a pop band, and the Dare album and the massive No 1 single Don’t You Want Me followed. It was a few years later before I got to see the new line up live at the City Hall in 1987. By then they had been in the charts several more times. The 1987 was very much a greatest hits show and good fun. I’ve never seen the band since, although they continue to this day. Typical setlist from 1980: The Black Hit of Space; The Touchables; Dreams of Leaving; The word before the last; Life Kills; Almost Medieval; Circus of Death; Crow and a Baby; Only After Dark; Being Boiled; Blind Youth; WXJL Tonight. Encore: Marianne; Empire State Human. Typical setlist from 1987: Hard Times; Money; The Things That Dreams Are Made Of
The Real Thing; Do or Die; Human; Sound of the Crowd; Love Action; Jam; Love on the Run; Seconds; The Lebanon; (Together in) Electric Dreams; Party; Mirror Man; Don’t You Want Me. Encore: Fascination; Rock n’ Roll

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mick Wilson on August 21, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    Hi, I was also at the Banshees gig in ’78 and the difference between the two “sounds” of each band was very interesting and gave me food for thought and led me gto see other “electronic” bands! I was sitting up in the balcony and when the Banshees were playing, Phil was standing directly behind me watching the show but I didn’t have the nerve to ask him for an autograph! Great days!


    • Posted by vintagerock on August 21, 2021 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Mick

      Yes both bands were excellent at the time and the Human League were very different band from the pop band they became. Happy days Peter


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