Blancmange - live @ Red Gallery, London

“Back to the present now; as opposed to the future”, says Blancmange’s Neil Arthur, backed by his three piece. Like a nonchalant Lancastrian time traveller, this inventor of EDM, materialises onstage to a wild enthusiasm, that almost takes him by surprise.

Blancmange - by Kitmonsters

‘The Fall’ from ‘Semi-Detached’ is the first number. As the applause fades, Neil is clearly at home in the here and now of the Red Gallery, telling the assembled, “You’ll have me in tears in a minute”. The band then launch energetically into the first live outing of classic b-side ‘I Would’. Next up, ‘Didn’t Take Long’ kicks in and Neil becomes the pop antihero; the discordant, almost Frippertronic guitar break underscoring this ‘anti’ love song.

This becomes a career spanning set covering every angle from a back catalogue of genius pop. We’re treated to the hard beat, staccato synths on ‘Game Above My Head’, the electrifying dislocation dance of ‘Can’t Explain’.

The deranged Village People meet Delia Derbyshire track, ‘Ultraviolent’ from ‘Blanc Burn’, brings a further sinister pop twist to the evening. The fun doesn’t end there, as halfway through the set, Neil dons his glasses for the trance-like ‘Holiday Camp’ and takes to melodica like a dance music Augustus Pablo in spectacles.

Blancmange - by Kitmonsters

Fifteen songs in, the classic that set the groove from the future: ‘Feel Me’. It’s a track no less relevant now than 30 years ago, as proven by the interest shown a few years back by Faithless, who not only remixed the track but also insisted Neil Arthur sing on their version. Earlier in the evening Neil had informed us he was reminded of an entirely different set of lyrics that he’d “maybe save for later”. Later is now: “wait a minute, wait a minute, …pull up to the bumper baby” (a fitting tribute to Grace Jones), then a nod to the recently departed Errol Brown with the line “every one’s a winner babe”.

Rounding off the evening with an encore that includes the much-anticipated UK hit, ‘Living On The Ceiling’, Blancmange are the uncontested ‘acid reigning’, heavy beat champions of dystopian dance music. With this much live energy Neil Arthur shows no sign of “running thin”. Neil has two albums out this year, ‘Semi-Detached’ which has already become a classic and ‘Nil By Mouth’ an album of instrumental tracks. “Paddington we love you”.

  • Read our in-depth Kitmonsters interview with Neil Arthur here.