This was the third visit The Human League had made to Ireland and the thirteen date of the fourth teen dates on their ‘Secrets U.K Tour 2001’. The venue for tonight’s concert the ‘Olympia Theatre’ is situated ten minutes from Dublin’s city centre and was originally opened in 1878 as a theatre, the ornate and decorative interior seemed somewhat fitting with the elegance and romance of the image and music of The Human League, Philip Oakley remarked early in the concert that he wished he could play in a venue like this more often, the Olympia itself has a capacity of 1.500 with standing room only downstairs and two of the three seated balcony’s opened, tonight the venue certainly looked full or at least just under it with those in attendance on the night making an excellent atmosphere that left Susan to remarked during the show that this was the best show that they had done during the tour itself.
The concert began with ‘Being Boiled’, the song itself being sung off stage by Philip while the band stood in semi-darkness, this track was followed by the first surprise of the night with ‘Circus Of Death’, seemly being played live for the first time since 1980, perfectly sung (on stage) by the motionless Philip, a fantastic track live, this led to the ‘Mirror Man’ single and the first sight of Susan & Joanne on stage, like Philip both wore a number of different outfits through out the show while following this was the first of five tracks from their latest album ‘Secrets’, ‘Shameless’, a track that’s being looked at for the next single and came across well live, this led to the first visit of the evening to the ‘Dare’ album with the single ‘Love Action’ & ‘Seconds’, both sounding great and where followed by ‘The Lebanon’, not exactly every fans favourite and one that would not be missed in my view, next was another classic single ‘The Sound Of The Crowd’ and then the often over looked and superb single ‘Heart Like A Wheel’, back to ‘Secrets’ with another potential single ‘Love Me Madly’, for me it sounds a lot better live than on the album itself, then ‘Human’, never one of my favourite singles, it leads into two tracks from ‘Secrets’, ‘Never Give Your Heart’ & ‘Snake’, like everything else from ‘Secrets’ on this tour both tracks sound great, these are followed by another over looked single ‘Fascination’ then the ‘Electric Dreams’ single, within reason a surprise choice but it comes across well live and also goes down well with the audience, this leads to the superb ‘Tell Me When’ and to finish the concert itself ‘Don’t You Want Me’, fantastic as ever and with the addition of the audience singing along.
The first of the two encores began with an ‘unplugged’ version of ‘One Man In My Heart’, an acoustic guitar played by Nick and the main riff played on a synth by Neil Sutton with Susan providing the vocals, different to say the least but personally I would have preferred the original version than this ‘unplugged’ version, Susan’s vocals didn’t sound strong enough to carry off the track itself in this format, the encore also included another classic track from ‘Dare’, ‘The Things That Dreams Are Made Of’, a fantastic version of a track that still sounds as strong twenty years on.
The second encore and finish to the concert itself was the recent single ‘All I Ever Wanted’, another of the newer tracks that sounded great live and what better way to finish the concert itself.
I was not so sure about the addition of ‘The Lebanon’ & ‘Electric Dreams’ to the set list, unfortunately both tracks gave the guitarist Nick a chance to display some guitar work, not something I’d like to see at a Human League concert nor any Synth Pop concert, I thought both tracks could have been replaced with tracks like ‘Life On Your Own’ & ‘These Are The Days’, nor was I that sure about the ‘unplugged’ version of ‘One Man In My Heart’, a brave decision that didn’t exactly work but another track that gave the audience the chance to sing along with Susan, apart from this the track selection was excellent, a good cross section of tracks from down the years, both singles and album tracks, great to hear tracks like ‘Circus Of Death’, ‘Fascination’, ‘Heart Like A Wheel’, ‘Tell Me When’ & ‘All I Ever Wanted’ played live.
This was an excellent concert from one of if not the best Electronic bands on the present live scene, a very impressive and enjoyable performance set against a simple and striking stage set with a basic and clever design and effective use of single coloured lights, all perfectly combining with the music of offer, a heavily Kraftwerk influenced style of Synth Pop, an Electronic band that are not to be missed live, one of the best Synth Pop concerts you will ever have the pleasure of attending!!.
Danny King – ‘Synthetic Vision’
Editor of ‘Synthetic Vision’
Ireland’s Synth Pop fanzine