If you came last night to see Alison Moyet pump out an evening of tracks that shaped your 80’s, then this was not going to be the concert for you. This songstress made her first appearance on ToTP in 1982 alongside other UK artists such as Culture Club, Wham!, and Bananarama, proved herself not only to be a great singer 35 years ago, but that her sonorous contralto tones were better than ever and very much a relevant tour de force for the resurgence in electronica music of today.
Drums and bass boomed over a spoken word opening track, which, frankly, left her audience thinking that they had come to the wrong place, however, she was greeted onstage to cheers and screams as she took us on her journey through I Germinate of reimagined sultry Kraftwerkesque stylings, with her onstage persona poised reminiscent as in a 1930’s Germanic cabaret bar, and powerfully rocking the mic stand two-handedly like a pole dancer.
“Thank-youuuuuu”, and all smiles at the end of the song(s) gave us the warmth and connection we were waiting for. One thing is undeniable, for a woman who has been a popstar for 35 years, she seems unprentious and does what she says on the tin; she is personable and feels like your neighbour you’ve known for years, and with a cracking sense of humour. Shouts from the audience were met with “I can’t hear you, but I’m just gong to assume that you’re saying something lovely”, which of course, we were
With a pulsing beat of Nobody’s Diary, a song that she reminded us that she wrote 40 years ago when she was 16, we were duly taken along with feet and hands tapping, providing backing vocals to accompany her on-stage ones. Her ‘backing band’ of John Garden and Sean McGhee had taken note of the intricate programming skills of Vince Clarke and sent synths soaring and spiralling to provide a polyphonic bed for Moyet’s smoky tones and blues vibes.
When your favourite song wasn’t played – calls for Invisible were met with “I’ve got a setlist – I’ve done 30 years, where you been?”, and That Ole Devil Called Love with a look of “Really?!?”, then she can be forgiven as her voice soothed and lulled you into submission.
A welcomed change was the 68 verse of Is This Love, and the audience loved it; it takes a lot of guts to change a song like that , but we hung on every word. Changeling and This House was a highlight, as was Beautiful Gun,which proved that Alison Moyet could hold our attention with as new song as well as with the old ones. The interjections of guitar made the wall of sound come alive, but nothing no more so until she took the mic off the stand and its was All Cried Out.
This was grown up pop, and I say that not in a derogatory way, but in a appreciative and thankful way, that here’s an artist that made us dance in our teenage years in berets and bangles, and has grown up with us to give us pop that not only we can love, but also connect with our teenagers too. Preserve the English U is no style over substance but great sounding grown-up electronica, an emotive connection told about her mother who suffered with Alzheimer’s, her battle with grammar (look out Americans in the audience!), and Alison’s own battle with dyslexia. Her songs hold a signature play of a major chord thrown in where you’d expected a minor one, and a renewed bass vibe that rattled my rib cage, although that may have been the poor mixing or acoustics of the concert hall?
People were beginning to stand up and dance along where they could, but nobody wanted to be the first person to stand up near the front because of the people behind – what a polite generation we are? – but by the end, there was no stopping us. Great encore of a stripped back Whispering Your Name, showing once again how a powerhouse dance track can be just as vibrant and rousing but with only 2 guitars, to a final crowd pleaser of our first taste of Alf with Don’t Go.
I left the concert with a renewed vigour for this 3-time BRIT Award winner’s new tracks, as well as her back catalogue. Being absorbed in her performance ignited my understanding of what a superb wordsmith Moyet is; melodies painted with lyrics brushed with a great command of rhyming couplets and visual imagery, the only constant of her musical trajectory, but taking it full circle to the opening concert track, April 10th. The journey has been good – just don’t leave it 30 years before you return to New Zealand, your fans are ready and waiting.