Altered Images, Assembly, Leamington, May 12.
THIS was a fun-filled gig which took me right back to the 1980s - I fell in love with the quirky pop music of Altered Images and, of course, Claire Grogan herself back in that era.
First up was Stratford-based musician Johnny Normal, performing with the also superbly named Pshyo Pete, an unusual sound which combined Johnny’s Soft Cell, Depeche Mode style synth work with the rock guitar work of Pete. I particular liked the clever humorous, sometimes verging on punk style lyrics, stand out numbers How You Destroy Me and my personal favourite, Time, with plenty of killer guitar-riffing.
Altered Images began with Claire making her entrance in one of the most original fashions I have seen - instead of taking to the stage, she made her way to the Assembly floor and went around the audience shaking hands, saying hi and even posing for photos while the Happy Birthday intro rang around the hall. She looked like she was having so much fun already and the gig had not even started.
Claire finally made her way to the stage, having lost none of her bubbly enthusiasm - dancing and moving all set and all over the spacious stage. All the 80s favourites were present and correct and the tempo did not fall all set, I Could Be Happy, See Those Eyes, the far too catchy Don’t Talk To Me About Love, the punk sounds of Insects and, of course, Happy Birthday. Claire insisted she had to perform the latter but wanted us all to join in.
A couple of well selected covers also made the set - The Supremes classic Baby Love and a rocking version of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way. There were plenty of anecdotes between numbers, including the fact that the band’s first single Dead Pop Stars also performed in the set was released the same day that John Lennon died and that Insects was a favourite of the late great John Peel.
Her band has changed since the 80’s and is now a quality all-girl line-up, while Claire’s voice has really stood the test of time and if not quite so high-pitched (for me she still only missed one note all night) more than makes up for that in extra depth. She looks fabulous, has a powerful stage presence and the audience responded in style giving the whole night a party like atmosphere.
Looked like everyone had an absolute ball, audience and band alike, but none more than Claire. Being one of my favourite 80s pop acts, this was a real treat.