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Blancmange & Bernholz Live

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Gorilla, Manchester 10 May 2019

Last year I heard Blancmange music for the very first time through the band’s new record WANDERLUST. For me, it’s rare to discover an electronic pop record which communicates with real meaning while boasting genuine musical adventure and distinction. It was also a big surprise to learn that the original band was formed way back in 1979. So I just had to take up the invitation to witness a live performance at Manchester’s popular Gorilla venue.

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I arrived at the venue to find a substantial audience of mainly disco veterans aged from 30s upwards. Neil Arthur’s vocal mic was stage-centre while double decker keyboards were to the left, drum machine and Apple computer to the right. By the time the musicians took their places the venue was packed with punters looking to relive their youths… A suited Arthur took his position last to loud cheers. He looked smart, relaxed and very happy.

The setlist seemed only to include two of his latest songs because with this loyal fans he was obliged to include some old favourites that had aged extremely well. Vocally, Arthur was excellent showing good range and masses of expression. His musicians backed him wonderfully well in addition to providing effective backing vocals. This was a quality performance which oozed skill and experience but even more interesting was how Arthur’s music had survived incredibly well, while his new music is up there with today’s best. This was something of a revelation and worthy of a much younger audience.

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Setlist

I Can’t Explain
I Smashed Your Phone
Wanderlust
Last Night (I Dreamt I Had a Job)
What’s Your Problem?
What’s the Time?
God’s Kitchen
Anna Dine
Feel Me
Living on the Ceiling
Blind Vision
Waves

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Biography

Blancmange are an English synth-pop band formed in Harrow, London in 1979. The band were a duo for most of their career, composed of Neil Arthur (vocals) and Stephen Luscombe (keyboards). They came to prominence in the early 1980s releasing four singles that entered the Top 20 charts in the UK, such as ‘Living on the Ceiling’, ‘Waves’, ‘Blind Vision’ and ‘Don’t Tell Me’, and they released three albums during that decade, HAPPY FAMILIES (1982), MANGE TOUT (1984) and BELIVE YOU ME (1985). The duo broke up in 1986 but reformed in 2011 and released their fourth album BLANC BURN (2011). Luscombe left following the release and since then Arthur has continued to perform under the Blancmange name. He has released three further studio albums and a number of compilations, including a re-recording of the band’s debut album, titled HAPPY FAMILIES TOO.

On 2 December 2014, the official Blancmange website announced details of a new studio album for release on 23 March 2015 on Cherry Red Records. The album, SEMI DETACHED, contains ten tracks. On 9 March 2015, the first single from SEMI DETACHED, ‘Paddington’, was released as a digital download.

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On 23 April 2015, Blancmange announced a new album of instrumental music titled NIL BY MOUTH. This release was initially only available for purchase at the band’s two shows at London’s Red Gallery in May 2015. It subsequently became available as a CD through the official Blancmange website on 25 September 2015. On 20 March 2017, the band announced on their website that a new album, UNFURNISHED ROOMS, would be released on 22 September 2017. On 23 June 2017, Fader, a new musical project between Neil Arthur and Benge, released their debut studio album, FIRST LIGHT.

In August 2017, Edsel released the 9-CD boxset THE BLANC TAPES that expanded each of the three 1980s albums over three discs with additional material and liner notes by Neil Arthur. In February 2018, NEAR FUTURE, another side project comprising Neil Arthur and Jez Bernholz (from Gazelle Twin), announced they will release their debut studio album, IDEAL HOME, on May 25th 2018. In April 2018, Blancmange announced a forthcoming studio album, WANDERLUST, and a UK tour in November.

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