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REVIEW: ALTERED IMAGES – LEAMINGTON SPA, ASSEMBLY [2012]

THIS IS NOT RETRO SAYS...

Well what a surprise and pleasure to hear that Altered Images were doing their own gig rather than just a swift 20 minutes as part of some retro/nostalgia package. Two hour drive or not, I had to be there…

First off a mention for support act, Johnny Normal, whom many will have seen supporting Adam Ant last year. Well worth a look as he and his sidekick Psycho Pete run through a set of largely original tracks which borrow from early Pet Shop Boys with a hint of Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Being a friend of Adam's he usually does include a couple of covers of Ants tracks, and tonight's version of 'Ants Invasion' is superb.

With the intro to 'Happy Birthday' on loop, and the all-girl band on stage, it's time for Clare to make her entrance, wafting her way through the small but enthusiastic crowd in a glamorous floor-length dress, posing for kisses and photos. It's true to say that I was smitten.

CLARE GROGAN (ALTERED IMAGES) - Leamington Spa Assembly

With Clare finally onstage the first track is 'I Could Be Happy', she must have sung this countless times but its impossible to detect any hint of boredom in her delivery. It's not quite the arm-waving foot-stamping Grogan you may recall from past performances but nevertheless there's a hitch of the dress and a mini bounce. Tonight's crowd are hugely appreciative, slightly saucy but certainly pleased to see a full set from one of pop's great bands.

From then it was a track through the works of Altered Images, with pauses to tell us that 'Insects' was John Peel's favourite Altered Images song, that 'Don’t Talk To Me About Love' was producer Martin Rushent's favourite song of the many he worked on, and of course the curse that was to befall them upon the release of 'Dead Pop Stars' in the same week that John Lennon died. Grogan seems genuinely pleased to be able see everybody and converse with us face to face.

The voice is still there, the songs from the bands third album Bite still sound lush, those from Pinky Blue just as squeaky and although we don't get the title track a truly superb version of 'See Those Eyes' is a real highlight.

Giving a nod to the present, Clare also dips into Club Gaga with a spirited cover of 'Born This Way' and even treats us with a performance of a more recent song, 'Don’t Give Up Girl', that she wrote for TV show Skins a few years ago. Two songs to remind you that with the right song there is no doubt Clare could have a hit again…

An extended 'Happy Birthday' that turns into a huge sing-along make a fine finale, and then with a smile and a blown kiss, Clare is off. No doubt there will be more appearances this summer and I only hope that, like me, you get a little kiss from Ms Grogan. If that doesn’t take you properly back to the 80s then nothing will.

WE'LL GIVE IT...

TYPICAL SETLIST

LEAMINGTON SPA ASSEMBLY, 12/5/12
Happy Birthday (intro) / I Could Be Happy / Don't Talk To Me About Love / Insects / See Those Eyes / Baby Love / Bring Me Closer / Don't Give Up Girl / Change of Heart / Born This Way / Dead Pop Stars / Happy Birthday

TOUR DATES

Sadly it was a one-off show...

CREDITS

Review and photograph by Dave Butterfield.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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CONTENT ADDED: May 14th, 2012

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