NewMusicExpress 01Aug1998

OF COURSE, IF YOU CAN REMEMBER THE '80s, you weren't really there. Oh hang on, wrong decade...

Still, let's get this straight, in the next few months you're going to be bombarded with 18 tons of '80s tat masquerading as art (it started with The Wedding Singer and it's going to continue with a Culture Club reunion tour in America), so learn these rules and learn them well. Wham!, Duran Duran and (er, sorry) Culture Club were all rubbish, but a handful of their contemporaries made records which took positive steps in the cause of pop music.

Heaven 17, needless to say, made four of these pioneering records, all of which they play tonight -'Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry', '(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang', 'Come Live With Me' and the so-good-they-play-it-twice genius of 'Temptation'. If pop had forgotten the pivotal role which these Sheffield electronicists, alongside Human League and Depeche Mode, played in the development of dance music, Ian Craig Marsh, Martin Ware and permanently smiling singer Glenn Gregory are back to give it a timely reminder.

Viciously mercenary though this reformation almost certainly is, Heaven 17 tweak enough knobs tonight to ensure their place in pop posterity. They make no pretence at being a living, breathing band, but play their back catalogue with such verve, enthusiasm and missionary zeal that their fusion of apocalyptic, post-punk, electronica and disco hedonism becomes as invigorating as it is historically important.

They might be singing for their suppers, but on the basis of this scintillating performance, they deserve every mouthful.

Jim Wirth