There was no support act, as A-ha were scheduled to be playing for a good two and a half hours – but this did mean that the doors opened a whole two hours before the band were due on stage, and so even though we hadn’t rushed to the venue, we were still stuck in our seats for an hour before the band came on! It would have been nice if the times had been made clearer beforehand.
When the band did come on, they were accompanied by some brilliant visuals in the style of the ‘Take On Me’ video.
The tour was aimed to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Hunting High And Low album (or the nearly-an-anniversary at any rate – the album came out a few months after I was born and I’m not quite thirty-five yet!) As such, one of the t-shirts they were selling made no reference to the band whatsoever – it was just a black and white striped t-shirt with ‘1985’ emblazoned across it in red. Did I get it? You bet I did. Birth year represent!
The bulk of the show was constituted by the Hunting High And Low album being played in its entirety, so for the most part the audience knew what to expect next. Having seen the band perform on a BBC ’80s nostalgia show a couple of years ago, I’d assumed Morten Harket was finding it difficult to hit the high notes on ‘Take On Me’ these days, as he’d taken it down an octave for the BBC show. At the gig, however, he managed the original arrangement admirably, which was much appreciated!
After they’d done the album tracks, there was an interval, and the band then launched into a few bonus favourites. I was a little disappointed by the lack of ‘Touchy!’, as it’s a beautifully silly song and thus appeals to me hugely – but to be honest I wasn’t really expecting them to play it, nice as it would have been! They did finish with a wonderfully crowd-pleasing ‘The Living Daylights’, which I think may be the first Bond theme I’ve ever seen performed live by the original artists (note to self: must not start new bucket list).
Geth and I got back to Newcastle today after spending the night in Leeds for an A-ha gig. The gig was one of my favourites of 2019 and I’ll be posting a review later this week once I’ve caught up with some other review posts!
Have had a fairly relaxed afternoon catching up with all the things I didn’t do last week when I was busy finishing off my text adventure game.
Looking forward to a good few days of working on my NaNoWriMo project before the next gig!
Today’s earworm playlist:
Dead Or Alive – Something In My House Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me Sam Smith – Too Good At Goodbyes Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine Michael Land – Monkey Island Main Theme A-ha – Hunting High And Low
Day 63 means Now! #63, which takes us to 10th April 2006.
I’m as interested as anyone to know what the hits were in 2006, as I was listening pretty much exclusively to goth and industrial by this point and so I don’t remember the chart stuff.
Track 1: Corrine Bailey Rae – Put Your Records On
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
It’s a nice tune, but it’s not really my style – I find this kind of thing pretty dull.
Track 2: The Pussycat Dolls and will.i.am – Beep
Great atmosphere, great beat, but it could do with some more melody.
Track 3: The Black Eyed Peas – My Humps
Semi-repeated artist alert! We only just had the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am on the last track.
Awful then, still awful now. The lyrics are just terrible.
Track 4: Orson – No Tomorrow
Interesting guitar lines, but I find the tune pretty boring.
Track 5: The Ordinary Boys – Boys Will Be Boys
Great ska-tinged track – I’ve always really liked this tune.
Track 6: Meck and Leo Sayer – Thunder In My Heart Again
Remix of Leo Sayer’s 1977 track Thunder In My Heart. It’s highly danceable and uses the original song very nicely.
Track 7: Hi Tack – Say Say Say (Waiting 4 U)
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
I appreciate the sample from Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson’s Say Say Say, and the rest of the track’s actually okay – it’s another one where the sample is used very well.
Track 8: Dead Or Alive – You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
The 1985 classic, back in the charts due to Pete Burns’ appearance on Celebrity Big Brother. It’s one of my favourite songs – I’ve loved it ever since hearing it as the theme to the Sounds Of The ’80s TV show in the early ’90s. Stunning track.
Track 9: Chico – It’s Chico Time
Awful novelty song that still troubles the music channels as part of their ‘Christmas party’ playlists.
Track 10: Shayne Ward – That’s My Goal
The second X Factor winner’s single and the first to get the Christmas number one. I’ve got a bad feeling that we’re going to be seeing X Factor winners on every spring Now! compilation for a good few years. The only good thing about this saccharine ballad is that it’s Shayne Ward’s original song, in contrast to the pointless karaoke you normally get with X Factor contestants.
Track 11: Sugababes – Ugly
Generic tune, and I find the theme on this one very hamfisted.
Track 12: Simon Webbe – No Worries
The beat’s a bit jarring, and in general the track is pretty messy – too much going on.
Track 13: Will Young – All Time Love
The tune’s nice, but it’s too slow for me.
Track 14: Kelly Clarkson – Because Of You
Another slow ballad, and those have to be super atmospheric or interesting for me not to find them bland. This one is not super atmospheric or interesting.
Track 15: Westlife – Amazing
Nice tune, nice atmosphere, but the chorus is a bit cheesy for me.
Track 16: Andy Abraham – Hang Up
The X Factor runner-up to Shayne Ward, fact fans. This track has a nice retro feel and could have come from the ’70s or ’80s, which is a great thing in my book.
Track 17: McFly – I Wanna Hold You
Good beat, interesting lines, but the vocals annoy me.
Track 18: Son Of Dork – Ticket Outta Loserville
Nice bit of daft pop-punk – quite like this tune.
Track 19: Friday Hill – One More Night Alone
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Good head-nodder, nice tune.
Track 20: Liberty X – A Night To Remember
Utterly pointless cover of the Shalamar classic, released as the official Children In Need single for 2005 (so insert usual disclaimer about the ‘point’ being charity fundraising). It’s pretty much identical to the original.
Track 21: Rihanna – If It’s Lovin’ That You Want
Interesting lines that come together to create quite a good atmosphere for this song. Quite like this one.
Track 22: Liz McClarnon – Woman In Love
Pointless cover of the Barbra Streisand classic. It’s a great song whoever does it, but there’s nothing new added here.
Track 23: Girls Aloud – See The Day
Pointless cover of the Dee C Lee classic. Also now a Christmas song, due to its ubiquity on the music channels’ Christmas playlists because of its wintry video. Again, I love the song whoever does it, but I just don’t see the point of releasing such a near-identical version.
Track 24: Nizlopi – JCB Song
Great song – gorgeous tune, brilliant lyrics, awesome theme, great chant-along section. A classic.
Track 25: Embrace – Nature’s Law
Nice piano instrumentals, lovely atmosphere. I normally find Embrace’s stuff really dull, but this is a nice tune, even with the slightly drone-y vocals.
Track 26: Robbie Williams – Advertising Space
Nice atmosphere, but it’s too slow for my liking.
Track 27: Coldplay – Talk
Great riff, but the vocals are depressing as ever from Coldplay.
Track 28: A-ha – Analogue (All I Want)
A welcome return to the charts for A-ha! This track has a suitably epic atmosphere, a great bassline, really nice piano and a lovely tune on the vocals.
Track 29: The Feeling – Sewn
Boring tune, too slow.
Track 30: Richard Ashcroft – Break The Night With Colour
Another tune that I just can’t get interested in.
Track 31: Texas – Sleep
Nice tune, but again it’s not uptempo enough for me.
Track 32: Kaiser Chiefs – Modern Way
Not the most interesting track off the Employment album, but I still really like the tune.
Track 33: U2 – All Because Of You
Great riff, but the tune’s a bit dull and repetitive.
Track 34: Fall Out Boy – Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down
Love the guitar, but the vocals are pretty irritating.
Track 35: Goldfrapp – Ride A White Horse
I’m always disappointed that this isn’t a cover of T.Rex’s Ride A White Swan with alternative lyrics. Still, it’s a great electropop tune.
Track 36: Gorillaz – Dirty Harry
Some interesting lines and hooks, but it’s very repetitive.
Track 37: MVP – Bounce, Shake, Move, Stop!
Daft theme, and I’d prefer a bit more melody, but it is a good head-nodder.
Track 38: Sunblock – I’ll Be Ready
Bit of a repetitive sample mishmash, but it’s got a good beat. The sample is Jimi Jamison’s Baywatch theme from 1994, but I had to look that up – I never watched enough of the show (I always found the premise really daft) to remember the theme!
Track 39: The Shapeshifters – Incredible
Quite like the instrumentals, but the main tune is very bland.
Track 40: The Source and Candi Staton – You Got The Love [New Voyager Radio Edit]
We’ve already had this song TWICE, if you can believe that, on Now! #19 and Now! #36! The New Voyager mix is definitely not different enough to justify including it a third time!
See the first link for my review (including the Florence & The Machine annoyance that I keep being reminded of whenever another Now! compilation features this song) and the second link for the first time I got angry about this repetition!
Track 41: Kubb – Grow
Boring, slow and depressing.
Track 42: José González – Heartbeats
Oh, it’s this one. Again, it’s too slow for my taste, though the guitar lines are quite interesting.
Day 9 equals Now! #9, which was released on 23rd March 1987.
Here are some tracks that may have floated into my tiny brother’s tiny ears.
Track 1: Jackie Wilson – Reet Petite
I hear this one regularly every Christmas period due to its status as the 1986 UK Christmas number one. As a result, it’s slightly Christmas-associated in my book, and also slightly annoying.
Track 2: Mental As Anything – Live It Up
I wasn’t familiar with this one. Nice chorus, good upbeat track.
Track 3: Simply Red – The Right Thing
This one’s a bit repetitive for me, though I like the instrumentals.
Track 4: Erasure – Sometimes
This is Geth’s go-to Erasure DJing track, so I kind of associate it with 2.55pm in a goth club. Great tune, though.
Track 5: Robbie Nevil – C’est La Vie
It’s a bit dull, but there’s something I quite like about it, maybe just ’cause it’s been featured on so many ’80s compilations I’ve heard.
Track 6: Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing
This was a hit again ’cause it had a new remix for its tenth anniversary, though I can’t work out whether it was the original or the remix that was featured on this compilation. Classic tune either way.
Track 7: The Blow Monkeys – It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way
I’ve always liked this one – great chorus, great saxophone riffs.
Incidentally, the Blow Monkeys are going to be supporting Level 42 at that gig at the Sage Gateshead in October! I should really stop going on about said gig on here and go buy tickets instead.
Track 8: The Housemartins – Caravan Of Love
One of my favourite Housemartins tracks – lovely a cappella cover of an Isley Brothers song from the previous year.
Track 9: Boy George – Everything I Own
Hmm, not for me, this one. Boy George has basically brought the ‘annoying’ aspect of Culture Club songs into his solo career.
Track 10: UB40 – Rat In Mi Kitchen
Nice jaunty, daft tune. Love the whimsy of this one.
I should, however, point out that as a professional editor, I absolutely hate that misspelling of ‘my’ in the title. Just why?
Track 11: The Gap Band – Big Fun
Like the atmosphere of this one, though the samples and vocals are a bit dull.
Track 12: Five Star – Stay Out Of My Life
I’m not a huge Five Star fan, and I find this one pretty dull, though some of the instrumental hooks are quite interesting.
Track 13: Pepsi & Shirlie – Heartache
It’s a bit pop-by-numbers, but I really like that the girls from Wham! got to go and have some hits by themselves (great vocals too now that they’re not playing second fiddle to George Michael!) before fading into obscurity again.
Track 14: Bananarama – Trick Of The Night
Love that sax intro, love the atmosphere of this one. Great track.
Track 15: Berlin – Take My Breath Away
Another one from my original ’80s playlist circa 2001. A bit overplayed due to the Top Gun connection, but a stunning pop ballad.
Track 16: Freddie Mercury – The Great Pretender
Wonderfully cheesy over-the-top dramatic number. I’d expect no less from Freddie Mercury.
Track 17: Ben E King – Stand By Me
Nice ’60s classic – back in the charts, I believe, due to the film of the same name. Lovely singalong track.
Track 18: Curiosity Killed The Cat – Down To Earth
Nice slightly laid-back track. It’s a bit ‘background’ for me, but I do like it.
Track 19: The Communards – So Cold The Night
A slightly more dramatic one from the Communards, with a great epic atmosphere.
Track 20: Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley – Jack Your Body
Like the tune, but the vocal sample is really irritating!
Track 21: Taffy – I Love My Radio (Midnight Radio)
Great synth line, great catchy vocals! Will be adding this to the playlist.
Track 22: Nick Kamen – Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever
Lyrics a bit cheesy for my liking, though the tune is quite nice, and that sax solo is great.
Track 23: A-ha – Manhattan Skyline
Interestingly slow verses before it kicks in with a great upbeat chorus. Nice epic atmosphere, great track from A-ha.
Track 24: Westworld – Sonic Boom Boy
Quite a fun wee track, good chant-along head-nodder.
Track 25: Bon Jovi – Livin’ On A Prayer
Hair metal headbanging time! Most definitely a guilty pleasure. This was a Cav classic circa 2001-2002 (i.e. played regularly at the Cavendish, a godawful cheap nightclub in Edinburgh that sold VK Apple alcopops for £1 each, resulting in a thousand hangovers during that era. Ah, teen years. The club still exists but, several name changes later, is now called Atik).
Track 26: Genesis – Land Of Confusion
Probably my favourite Genesis song – I love this one! Bonus points also for the Spitting Image video.
Track 27: Europe – The Final Countdown
More headbanging, another guilty pleasure, and also, incidentally, another Cav classic (see above). I can almost taste the VK Apple, which is not a good thing.
Track 28: Gary Moore – Over The Hills And Far Away
Love this folk-tinged bit of classic rock! I’ve spent my adulthood in goth clubs hearing the Nightwish cover, but I prefer this original version.
Track 29: Ward Brothers – Cross That Bridge
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Nice bit of upbeat pop, currently chair-dancing here. Great synth in the instrumentals.
Track 30: Pretenders – Hymn To Her
Great lyrics, though the track is a bit slow for me. Nice tune too.
We’ve been doing this for a whole week. Doesn’t time fly?
Day 7 takes us to 11th August 1986.
Let’s see what might have been blaring on the radio while I was toddling around that balcony.
Track 1: Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer
Great start! Awesome upbeat song, a real classic (doing the chair dance right now). The video won lots of awards but I’ve never been a fan of it, though I’m sure it was groundbreaking at the time.
Track 2: UB40 – Sing Our Own Song
I do like the almost MIDI-videogame-music-esque instrumentals that run through this song. Nice tune too.
Track 3: Sly Fox – Let’s Go All The Way
Nice beat, but the tune’s a bit dull for me.
Track 4: Level 42 – Lessons In Love
And with the awesome guitar intro to this song, Level 42 are reminding me that I really should buy tickets to that show I was talking about yesterday. I love this track.
Track 5: Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)
I’m so glad Pet Shop Boys have caught the eye of the Now! compilers! I love pretty much everything they’ve ever done, and this brilliant track is no exception. Love that slow synth intro that bangs into the chorus – awesome.
Track 6: Pete Wylie – Sinful!
Repetitive beats, lack of melody, boring samples, not really my thing. It does get slightly more interesting as it builds.
Geth arrived home while this was playing and thought it was by James. I’ve not asked how many drinks he had at his work’s wine reception, but it looks like a few.*
Track 7: Stan Ridgway – Camouflage
I do like this jaunty tune, though the vocals annoy me. If I can find an instrumental version, I think I’ll be adding it to my regular playlist.
Track 8: The Art Of Noise and Max Headroom – Paranoimia
Like the synth at the start of this, like the sampling, love Max Headroom. Fun track.
Track 9: Chris De Burgh – Lady In Red
Blurgh, far too much cheese here. I don’t dislike everything he’s done, but this one is a real eye-roller.
Track 10: David Bowie – Absolute Beginners
Lovely song, up to the usual Bowie standard. Nice video too, featuring a red phone box (though it’s filmed in black and white).
Track 11: Genesis – Invisible Touch
I really like the Genesis singles of this era. Great catchy chorus, great instrumentals.
Track 12: Simple Minds – All The Things She Said
It’s bad that when I see that title my mind automatically goes to the 2002 Tatu hit, right? I think that’s pretty bad.
This song, meanwhile, is a great upbeat track from Simple Minds, no male-gaze lesbianism in sight.
Track 13: The Housemartins – Happy Hour
Happy hour, happy song, happy Dee, quite literally. This one always cheers me up.
Track 14: Big Country – Look Away
One of the Big Country songs that irritates me for some reason. I think it’s the tune.
Track 15: Furniture – Brilliant Mind
I’ve always really liked the atmosphere of this one. It builds beautifully.
Track 16: Midge Ure – Call Of The Wild
Nice pop tune, but it’s a bit forgettable.
Track 17: Wham! – The Edge Of Heaven
Were Wham! still going at this point? I lose track. Great catchy song though.
Track 18: Owen Paul – My Favourite Waste Of Time
I’m going to call this a guilty pleasure. Should I feel guilty about it? I’m not sure.
Track 19: Amazulu – Too Good To Be Forgotten
Unfortunately this song does not do what it says on the tin. It may be unforgettable, but that’s due to the irritating tune that threatens to become an unwanted earworm if you hear it too often.
Track 20: Doctor & The Medics – Spirit In The Sky
Never been sure about this cover. It’s very nearly a pointless ’80s cover in my book, as there’s little to differentiate it from the Norman Greenbaum original other than the harder guitar and interesting synth hooks, but I can’t help but love the video.
Track 21: Bananarama – Venus
My favourite Bananarama song! Perfect piece of pop.
Track 22: Bucks Fizz – New Beginning (Mamba Seyra)
I do quite like a lot of Bucks Fizz’s stuff, but I’m not hugely keen on this one. It’s a bit dull.
Track 23: A-ha – Hunting High And Low [Remix]
I quite like this one, even though it’s one of A-ha’s slower tracks. There’s something quite epic about it.
Track 24: Simply Red – Holding Back The Years
Nice ballad, though I’d have to be in a pretty sleepy mood to put it on.
Track 25: Billy Ocean – When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going
Love this classic soundtrack song! Though I’ve never seen The Jewel In The Nile (or Romancing The Stone, come to think of it), which I should sort out at some point.
Fun fact: Boyzone did a pointless ’90s cover of this in 1999 (well, I shouldn’t really call it pointless, seeing as it raised a lot of money for Comic Relief, but you know what I mean).
Track 26: Jaki Graham – Set Me Free
Nice upbeat pop song, though I’m not hugely keen on the vocals.
Track 27: Nu Shooz – I Can’t Wait
With a band name like this, what can go wrong?
I do like that jingly bit at the start. I also just realised that Mann sampled this for Buzzin’ in 2010 and now I’m annoyed on Nu Shooz’ behalf.
Track 28: The Real Roxanne and Hitman Howie Tee – Bang Zoom (Let’s Go-Go)
The rap bit’s all right, but the sampled tune irritates me. Not a fan.
Track 29: Lovebug Starski – Amityville (The House On The Hill)
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 1: lazy tribute version substitute.
Nice cheesy horror-themed track, very ’80s. One for the Hallowe’en party playlist.
Track 30: Midnight Star – Headlines
Argh, that irritating vocal! Not a fan of this one.
Track 31: Aurra – You And Me Tonight
Lot of spoken samples in the intro, repetitive backing track, dull vocals. Not my thing.
Track 32: Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald – On My Own
Pretty dull ballad, though the tune on the chorus is nice.