While Geth and I were at the Sage for the Kim Wilde gig in April, we noticed that Level 42 were going to be playing this year as well. After being constantly reminded of the gig due to Level 42 popping up on a lot of Now! compilations early in my Now! marathon, I booked tickets, and promptly forgot all about it until this week.
The doors were advertised as 7:30pm, which usually means bands don’t start until nearer to 8pm. However, when we walked into the arena at 7:35pm after grabbing a drink from the bar, support act the Blow Monkeys had already started playing. I’ll have to remember that when we go to the Sage in future.
The Blow Monkeys were good, although I didn’t know most of the songs they played – I think it was mostly new stuff, as they’ve recently released a more folky/blues sounding album. They did finish with It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way, their biggest UK hit from back in the day.
After an interval (giving Geth the usual opportunity to get us some more drinks), Level 42 came on, and launched into a storming stage show. Early highlights for me included opener Running In The Family, The Sun Goes Down and The Chinese Way, but I really appreciated the stagecraft as well – the lighting was really pretty and well done, and we even got occasional semi-dance routines! I also want to give a shout out to the three-man brass section – the saxophonist was especially good, but they were all brilliant.
After finishing the main part of the set with The Spirit Is Free (featuring all band members drumming simultaneously, which was pretty spectacular!) and Something About You, we were treated to a lively encore featuring Lessons In Love and Build Myself A Rocket. Great gig overall, and not even the constant stream of people pushing past our seats to go to the bar/bathroom (including during the last song. Just why?) could spoil things!
The Sage kicked out in plenty of time for people to catch the last Metro as well. Good stuff!
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.