Blancmange – Searing, sophisticated synth-pop at Liverpool’s Arts Club

Posted on 9 May 2019
By Alley Richardson
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Undoubtedly one of Synth-Pop’s hidden gems, with a string of hits dating back to the early 1980’s, Blancmange brought their Wanderlust tour to the Liverpool Arts Club this past Saturday night. A plush but intimate venue in the east side quarter with an amphitheater feel.

The evening kicked off with a fantastic solo set from Finlay Shakespeare bringing searing electronics and bombastic vocals with definite hints of Depeche Mode and Human League on an edgy more theatrical scale than the garden party audience could handle. Concluding his set to a respectful but by no means energetic applaud.

The brief interlude initially did nothing to inscite much enthusiasm for the main act and as Neil Arthur smoothly entered the stage through a haze of tinted blue smoke and opened with In Your Room from the 2018 album Wanderlust there was an unmistakable hush in the room as things started to warm up.

A more layered and slightly darker rendition of Don’t Tell Me returned a much more excited response and everything was on the up from there. Given much of the audience were expecting a more hyped 80’s feel the down beat ambience of the show reflected the crowds mood giving way to the previous tense atmosphere for a more chilled experience.

The 1983 hit Waves was an absolute game changer, just pure electronic heaven performed beautifully and passionately a real audience pleaser from start to finish.

Blancmange has an unusual history since forming as a duo in 1979 Neil Arthur and Stephen Luscombe came into their own in the early 1980’s with no less than four U.K. top 20 hits such as Waves, Living On The Ceiling their biggest hit reaching number 7 in the U.K. top 40 in 1982 and Don’t Tell Me from their second studio album Mange Tout.

After a gap of 25 years the two reformed in 2011 to release their fourth studio album Blanc Burn. After suffering personal illness Luscombe was forced to bow out and Arthur continued to release new music and perform under the Blancmange name.

Since then releasing seven more albums including a re-recording of their 1982 album Happy Families now entitled Happy Families Too released in November 2013.

Despite the quarter of a century gap Wanderlust released October of last year brings the total to an impressive 10 studio albums of quality music which have grown into a richer more sophisticated sound much deeper and less agitated than early tracks and with the ever changing technology at their fingertips Blancmange have evolved into serious electronic purists.

Although the crowd took its time to warm up once it did it was on full burn for the rest of the show with Blancmange giving them an evening of deliciously re-worked hits and an introduction to a whole new era of Synth-Pop that has and will continue to stand the test of time