By Trevor Horn @
Wembley Arena, London,
11 November 2004
Killed The Radio Star may be a cheesy, disposable pop song
from 1979 but it was responsible for launching Trevor Horn's
career, during which he has been a producer for the likes
of Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart and Simple Minds. Although
none of them make an appearance on the bill for tonight's
Prince's Trust fundraising celebration there are plenty
more Horn-produced acts from the past 25 years for the audience,
including Prince Charles, to get their nostalgic teeth into.
infamous Buggles hit starts proceedings,
with Horn on vocals and guitar impeccably recreating the
original, and sets us up nicely for the carbonated glamour
pop of Dollar as David Van Day and Thereza
Bazar trot onto the stage to perform a couple of their badly
dated hits. He may now serve up burgers rather than hit
singles to the public but Van Day shows he has still got
the magic with his eighties, school-disco-style dance moves.
stark contrast is offered by Grace Jones
as she struts on stage in a black, peacock-style head-dress,
billowing black cape and black leotard to perform Slave
To The Rhythm, looking as scary and severe as ever. The
jolly tones of Scottish seven-piece Belle &
Sebastian help the fear subside as singer Stuart
Murdoch skips his way through Step Into My Office, Baby
before the line, "I was burned out after Thatcher",
serves as an unwittingly apt introduction to next act, ABC.
As fop-haired frontman Martin Fry sings, "Who broke
my heart?", during Shoot That Poison Arrow, some of
the crowd point back for the "You did, you did"
reply, and you get the feeling he probably did via many
of the audience's bedroom walls, though perhaps not in the
gaudy gold-sequinned suit he dons for his powerful performance
of The Look Of Love.
keeps the show flowing, offering anecdotes and autobiographical
stories between acts and providing guitar during each short
set. Tracks from sample-pioneers The Art Of Noise
and some painfully dated, arty synthpop courtesy of Propaganda
serve as a distraction until Yes take over
the reins to perform Owner Of A Lonely Heart. The song itself
is well performed but is book-ended by some over-indulgent,
prog-rock fret-fiddling, dividing the audience with needlessly
drawn-out, psychedelic twaddle.
Pet Shop Boys' post-interval set is somewhat
better received by the crowd as they run through Left To
My Own Devices and It's Alright. With Neil Tennant dressed
in black jeans and jumper and Chris Lowe virtually motionless
behind his keyboard, they are as dour as ever, but the music
provides the excitement their performance lacks, getting
the crowd on their feet for the first time tonight. Following
a brief taste of some new material from Lisa Stansfield,
Welsh wonder Tom Jones introduces Latvian
mock-lesbian lovers Tatu, who play their
number one single All The Things She Said minus both chemistry
and conviction. It comes as a relief when Seal
jumps into the crowd to sing best-known anthem, Killer,
and applies his distinctly rich voice to the equally well-received
Kiss From A Rose and Crazy before it is time for the much-anticipated
headline act to grace the stage.
ballet-dancing duo perform before the calm is broken by
the rousing charge of Welcome To The Pleasuredome from a
re-formed Frankie Goes To Hollywood, albeit
minus original singer, Holly Johnson. Replacement singer,
Ryan Malloy's voice is higher pitched, lacks the gravitas
of Johnson, and at times sounds whiny with his rendition
of Two Tribes passable but unremarkable. He dramatically
tears his top off during set-closer Relax to reveal some
shiny golden sleeves: it is a shame his voice does not quite
live up to his undeniable showmanship and the absence of
the rumoured celebrity vocalist for the finale only adds
further to the disappointment.
high-points of the night are tempered slightly by the less-talented
or less-memorable acts, and by the slightly flat Frankie'
reunion, but overall the night proves to be a star-studded
success mixing up acts both old and new and showcasing an
amazingly varied career. When Seal confides "I was
a fan without even knowing it" he speaks for many others
who, unbeknown to them, have listened to and loved Trevor
Horn's productions for many years. A largely enjoyable and
deserving tribute featuring some memorable moments in pop.
- Ian Roullier, 11/2004