The best and worst of 1980s relics

At this time of year, tradition requires that punters must pay good money to watch ageing non-entities make asses of themselves on stage. But wait before you book that pantomime. The same effect can be achieved, with a stockingful of belly-laughs, at this reunion of 1980s relics.
Now in its second year, the Here And Now tour is establishing itself as an annual cringefest, best watched through slightly parted fingers. The line-up, though, is different every time. WIll there ever be another chance to see Dollar’s David Van Day (45) struggling for breath inside a skin-tight biker jacket, or former teen actress Clare Grogan (40) clambering out of a giant wedding cake? Only time will tell.
This year, the promoters have scoured their back issues of Smash Hits to come up with acts as diverse – and, dare one say it, obscure – as Grogan’s band Altered Images, or the Belle Stars, whose small canon of chanted hit singles comprised Iko Iko and the Clapping Song. And then there is Visage, whose frontman Steve Strange began the 1980s as a prime mover of the New Romantic scene. Unfortunately for Strange, his most recent snhowbiz moment came when he was given a suspended sentence for shoplifting a Teletubby doll. His solicitor’s statement at the hearing – “My client has found it difficult to cope with falling from grace after being a man of considerable wealth” – may give a clue t othe reasoning behind the enterprise.
Strange got the evening off to an appropriately silly start, lurching onto the stage in the company of two black-suited bouncers who had soon stripped down to their boxer shorts. It was a happy chance that he wore his microphone strapped to his head, as he seemed too disorientated to locate the audience, let alone a mike-stand. “It’s a bit loud”, he mumbled in the intervals between his three long-forgotten hits. “I’m losing my voice, I’m getting a bit old… Thank you anyway”.
And ungodly 7.30 start meant there were more bum notes than bums on seats, for the early stages at least, but the cavernous London Arena eventually filled to two thirds capacity. As inhibitions dissolved in gallons of Carlsberg and Smirnoff Ice, the atmosphere took on a distinctive flavour, one part school disco to two parts office Christmas party.
All that festive spirit was brought to the boil by the evening’s only triumph, a deliciously hammy set from Kim Wilde. Now reincarnated as a presenter of BBC1’s Garden Invaders, Wilde was a revelation, sending up her glamourpuss 1980s persona while simultaneously showcaseing the best voice of the tour.
What a pity she had to give way to Here And Now’s headline act, the Human League, whose already lugubrious synth-pop was further undermined when one of their computers broke down. Unfortunately for Phil Oakey and his accomplices, an unplugged set was not really an option. They struggled on, doing their best to confirm my theory that if love is blind, nostalgia must surely be tone-deaf.