at The Institute, Birmingham, 19th September 2013.
With support from Underground Ally and Field Harmonics.
The Library at the Institute, Birmingham is not one of my favourite venues to see bands. Stand more than a few feet back from the low stage and all you get to see are the head and shoulders of the band on stage. With no photo pit to play in and a small lighting rig permanently set to dull, this was going to be a challenging night to shoot. A friendly couple let me squeeze in at the barrier at the beginning of each set so I could get a few close shots, then off to the sides and walk around to see what I could get with the telephoto zoom. First up was a chap going under the name of Field Harmonics. Using pre-recorded loops and mixes, he delivered a fantastic set of dreamy, electro-pop tunes mixed with great haunting vocals. Very reminiscent of early 80’s Howard Jones and Depeche Mode in parts. Underground Ally were next up made up of a trio of siblings, Kristian Owen, Ash Owen and Vicky Owen. Rapid firing vocals over backing tracks which mixed soul, hip-hop and pop with thumping bass and dubstep was their order of play. An electro dance assault that has definite mass mainstream appeal. After a short break, Visage band members Steve Barnacle (bass), Robin Simon (guitar), Johnny Marter (drums) and Logan Sky (keyboards) arrived on stage decked out in desert army fatigues followed by enigmatic front man Steve Strange sporting a splendid traditional alpine style hat and jacket. Sadly, Lauren Duvall could not be at this gig so her vocals were noticeably missing when ‘Fade to Grey’ kicked in. As pioneers of the 1980’s New Romantic movement, synth pop group Visage led the way in electro music. The favourites ‘The Damned Don’t Cry’, ‘The Anvil’ and ‘Mind of a Toy’ still appeal to all that come into contact with them. The crowd was made up of young and old, all enjoying the nostalgia trip and the mix of new material from the latest ‘Hearts and Knives’ album. The encore of ‘Visage’ ended a great show and reminded us how Steve Strange can still command a loyal and appreciative audience. And yes, Steve was drinking tea out of a plastic bottle, as he was at pains to point out.
See the full picture sets here:
Words and pictures by Stephen Turner