Music Review: Altered Images, Tom Bailey, and The Human League

Further to some posts where I reviewed albums (e.g. “Europa” by Holly Johnson, “432-1 Open The Vein” by Nasher, “Transcendance” by Berlin, “Science Fiction” by Tom Bailey, and “Essential” by T’Pau), this post is about a recent concert that I went to. The concert was on 17 December 2021 and the headline act was The Human League. This was the first time that I had seen them in concert, as well as one of the support acts, Altered Images. It was the second time to see Tom Bailey (of the Thompson Twins) live having seen him supporting Culture Club (with Belinda Carlisle also supporting) back in 2018.

Altered Images were first up and people were still coming into the stadium during the set. You can see the details of the set list here. I have to admit that before the concert, the only track I was particularly familiar with was “Happy Birthday”, although I also have a 12″ version of “Don’t Talk To Me About Love” on a NOW Music compilation. I think Altered Images were most active before I really got into pop music (around 1984, as I discuss in my book “Frankie Fans Say“), but during the set I realised that I recognised most of the tracks. But the bigger revelation was just how great Clare Grogan still sounds. It’s a shame more people weren’t in the venue to hear the set. It’s also a shame that my vantage point didn’t allow for a better photograph – but at least these days you can actually capture some photos and videos, unlike back in the 1980s.

Altered Images

Next up was Tom Bailey. I have to admit that as a Thompson Twins fan, I was looking forward to this probably more than The Human League. I was a bit worried though as (1) the last time I saw Tom live, the stadium was quite empty still so there was no atmosphere, (2) last time he sounded a bit flat (even to me, someone who is quite tone deaf), and (3) I knew that during the set he was doing a Talking Heads cover version rather than one of the other many Thompson Twins tracks, or even one from “Science Fiction” as he had done the previous time. You can see the full set list here. I needn’t have worried. By the time Tom came on, the venue had filled up nicely and everyone was in a mood to sing, Tom sounded great, and even the cover version sounded good – though I would still have preferred a different song. One thing is for sure, Tom deserves to be headlining with his own set rather than always being support.

Again, my photos are from far back…

Tom Bailey

The atmosphere was so good, I decided to also record a video of some of it…

You an also find a full video of Tom’s performance in Cardiff here…

Then came The Human League. I have always liked The Human League since I first heard their music, but this concert was partly to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their ground-breaking album “Dare”. I didn’t own a copy of this album until earlier this year (having received the concert tickets as a 50th birthday present from my daughter). So the significance of the album had passed me by back in 1981. But that didn’t detract anything from the concert itself since I was familiar with all of the tracks six months after getting the tickets, as well as all of the others that they played. You can see the full set list here. They were absolutely fabulous – the stage production, sound, singing, interaction with the fans, everything.

As well as being in my place in the venue, like some others I went down to closer to the stage to get some better photos. Here is a selection from both locations.

The Human League

As well as the photos, I took a couple of videos. The first was of one of my favourite tracks of theirs, “Human”.

The other was the iconic “Don’t You Want Me” – I love Susan Ann’s little shake of the head after “I was working in a cocktail bar, that much is true”, as it’s not true as most The Human League fans know and as was discussed in an article in The Guardian that appeared during the tour.

Despite my photos and videos – I really hope that an official DVD and album of the concert comes out, as I would get them in a flash. I also hope that The Human League tour again as I would not hesitate to get tickets. A book covering the history of the band is due too.

As someone who lived in Sheffield for 9 years, and maintaining my links with the city through football, it was great that two of the acts were from Sheffield. As much as my music focus has been on Liverpool in the past year as I write my book related to Frankie Goes To Hollywood, we should never forget how much great music has come from the Steel City.

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