-Aaron Badgley in "The Lexicon" #13
Heaven 17 is not a conventional band. They are not now, nor have they ever been. In and out of fashion, ahead of the times or behind them, one thing can be said about Heaven 17...they do things their way at their own time. This includes touring. Rather than performing live during their commercial and critical peak. Heaven 17 decided to wait until 1996 and their "reunion" (the band denies it was a reunion and claims that they never broke up). Yes, Glenn Gregory did participate in the Red Wedge tour during the mid '80s, but this was their first tour and live performances. Also, instead of headlining their own tour, they decided to open for Erasure. A great line-up of bands, but again, not the usual move for a band with a history like Heaven 17.
Now, three years later, that tour is preserved on this live CD, released on their own label through their website (www.Heaven17.com), which will handle future releases and merchandise. And to be honest, they have done an admirable job both with their live performance and with this CD. The band is augmented by two backup singers (Angie Brown and Billie Godfrey) who do a good job for the most part. As for Heaven 17, they are tight. Glenn Gregory's voice is very strong and consistently brilliant.
|The song selection is fairly obvious, concentrating on the hits ("Let Me Go," "Fascist Groove Thing," and "Crushed by the Wheels of Industry," to name three) plus a number of songs from their then- current release. Bigger Than America. All of the songs (with the exception of their version of "Temptation") are very faithful to the original versions and sound quite good live. The newer material actually sounds somewhat more energetic and exciting live than on the studio disc. "Temptation" is a disappointment because, in an attempt to make the song current, they lose the beauty of the original melody. Also, where is "Sunset Now"?!?!?! They cover the Human League song "Being Boiled," which Glenn Gregory dedicates to Billy MacKenzie (remember, Martyn Ware produced some Associates recordings). Again, it is fairly faithful to the original, and Gregory does an excellent job with the vocals.|
This is a well recorded CD, and the packaging is quite nice. It's a vast improvement over their previous release, Retox/Detox, which simply did not work. Fans will enjoy it, and people fortunate enough to catch them on this tour will enjoy it as a souvenir. One hopes that all future releases through their website can be this well done.
Live at Last was available from www.heaven17.com. It is being reissued in the US by Almafame with three extra multimedia tracks and concert videos of three songs.