❚ SPOTTY TEENAGERS DIDDLING WITH TWO FINGERS. Electronic music has usually had a dourly downbeat image for most of us. Synths in bedsits, and all that. Yet the tunes of our youth are the spark that fuel our creative adventures. That’s the inspirational notion behind a new monthly radio show titled Music for… Growing Up To, compiled by Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware of Heaven 17 for Radio Ditto. Drawing from their own idiosyncratic record collections and their undiminished curiosity, these electronic pioneers of the early 80s — founders of The Human League who broke away in 1980 — will also be scanning the web for new discoveries in a segment they call Found on Soundcloud. And, they say, anybody can also submit their own new tunes for the webcast.
All of which is by way of a trailer for their British Electric Foundation’s two-day festival, Music of Quality and Distinction Live, at London’s Roundhouse venue in the autumn. They were encouraged by the full houses during Heaven 17’s Penthouse and Pavement 30th anniversary tour last year, built around what many of us regard as the most progressive album of 1981. Playing synthesisers live onstage seldom offers the most dramatic of experiences. Yet, despite the pretentiously named BEF, their original production company, Heaven 17’s imaginatively presented tour generated a real party atmosphere thanks to exceptional supporting musicians and innovative digital light displays — rather more than you’d expect from paunchy veterans standing at keyboards, and a darn sight more good-humoured than some recent po-faced electro-revivals. From Soul Warfare and Let’s All Make A Bomb to Fascist Groove Thang, Ware & Gregory’s rebel anthems lent themselves to enthusiastic singalongs.
➢ The Roundhouse celebration of seminal electronic music from the past 30 years consists of a major concert each night. Friday October 14 sees a live premiere of Heaven 17’s top-ten album The Luxury Gap from 1983… October 15 will be BEF’s first live show featuring guest vocals from Elly Jackson (LaRoux), Green Gartside (Scritti Politti), Shingai Shoniwa (Noisettes), Boy George (Culture Club), Midge Ure (Ultravox), Andy Bell (Erasure), Sandie Shaw, Polly Scattergood and Kim Wilde.
➢ Other summer festival gigs by Heaven 17 — brilliantly backed by Billie Godfrey, Asa Bennett, Joel Farland being dynamite on LinnDrums, Julian Crampton being a god on bass and Me’sha Bryan — include Coventry, Sheffield, London, Whitstable, Perth and Nottingham.