As tours go, this one is pretty much up there as a must-see. As far as albums go, DARE is always in the top ten of favourites amongst all music lovers.
Incredibly, it’s forty years since THE HUMAN LEAGUE released this career defining album. To celebrate this momentous occasion, the band will be performing DARE, in its entirety, as well as other hits from their huge back catalogue, when they head out on tour this year, including a date here in South Wales.
First things first we reckon. How the hell do Phil, Susanne and Joanne look so incredible after all this time? Seriously guys, 40 years have passed since the album, and while we have aged, you three remain the same – almost.
Back in the day The Human League dominated the charts and airwaves, pretty much throughout the 1980’s. The music we loved so much back then, somehow remains as current today as it did when DARE was released in October 1981.
Those of us who remember the release of the album can attest that when it hit the record stores (yes we had those back then), it instantly became a landmark album for the British music scene. In fact it spread right across Europe and into America, bringing with it a whole new sound.
The Human League were very much fashion icons, they had a style which was imitated by other artists and their millions of fans. Without any doubt they changed the face of music and club life back then. But it was always about the music. Listen to the lyrics on DARE and remember what was going on politically at the start of the 80’s and you’ll see what we mean.
So let’s talk about the singles. DARE had four of them, and we guarantee if this came on the radio, right now, you’d turn it up loud, as you told anyone who would listen – “I Love This Song.”
The album includes that number one single ‘Don’t You Want Me’ which is undoubtedly the one we all wait for at any of their gigs. It stayed in the charts for five weeks and was the Christmas number one that year. In fact it was also the first number one of the following year too.
The lyrics were inspired after Philip read a photo-story in a teen-girl’s magazine. He said he was also inspired by the film A Star Is Born and decided to turn the song into a conflicting duet with one of the band’s two female vocalists. Susanne Sulley was asked to take on the role. Until then, she and the other vocalist, Joanne Catherall, had only handled backing vocals; Susanne says she was chosen only through “luck of the draw.”
It’s a song with a bit of a pedigree as well. It is the band’s best known and most commercially successful song. As well as being the Christmas number one in the UK, it has since sold well over one and a half million copies, making it the 23rd-most successful single in UK Singles Chart history. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 in America in July 1982, where it stayed for three weeks.
In November 1983, Rolling Stone magazine named it the “breakthrough song” of the Second British Invasion of the US. Then in 2015, the song was voted by the UK public as the nation’s seventh-favourite 1980s number one in a poll for ITV.
For us here at SOUTH WALES LIFE, we have a tiny bit of history with the song too. We interviewed the band when they were on a promotional tour for DARE in 1981, and we were actually in the Top Of The Pops studio when they performed the song for the Christmas edition of the show. That not only makes us incredibly lucky, but also a little old. If you’d like to see that show, and chuckle at how we looked back then, grab a cuppa and settle down for the TOP OF THE POPS Christmas Eve 1981.
The album got them a Brit Award and the band wnet onto to make it into our charts for the next fifteen years with songs like the brilliant HUMAN.
The band have released nine studio albums, two remix albums, one live album, six EP’s, thirty singles and since 2001 they have consistently toured and headlined contemporary festivals across the world. What we haven’t seen, until the ‘DARE 40 TOUR’, is the entire album performed from beginning to end.
This is also a full on show with two incredible support acts. The Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey and Altered Images.
The THOMPSON TWINS were also part of that second British Invasion of pop to the US. In fact, they were so huge in the States, they played the Philadelphia side of the Live Aid show in 1985, and damn good they were too. At the time they performed with Madonna and Nile Rodgers with an incredible version of Revolution. They had a string of hits in the 80’s including ‘Doctor Doctor’, ‘You Take me Up’, ‘Love on Your Side’ and the one we all singalong to, ‘Hold Me Now’.
In 2014 Tom returned to playing live and those TT hits, after a break of 27 years. Together with his all-female band he played an 80 date world tour in 2018, the same year he released his first solo album ‘Science Fiction.’
Altered Images were a band who made the headlines for many reasons back in the 1980’s, most of them were the firecracker lead singer Clare Grogan. Clare not only sang the bands biggest hits, ‘Happy Birthday’, ‘Don’t Talk about Love’ and ‘I Could Be Happy’ but also had great success as an actor, most notably with the Bill Forsyth movie Gregory’s Girl.
Won’t say much about the film here, other than it was ranked No. 30 in the British Film Institute’s list of the top 100 British films and No. 29 on Entertainment Weekly’s list of the 50 best high school movies. In other words, if you haven’t seen it, you must.
Incidentally, the guy playing guitar in Altered Images is Johnny McElhone, who is now with, and co-founded TEXAS with Sharleen Spiteri. And if you do watch that Christmas Eve Top Of The Pops, you’ll see Altered Images on that show too.
THE HUMAN LEAGUE – DARE 40 TOUR brings them to the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on Friday 17th December, starting at 6:30pm, which is the penultimate date on the tour. You can get your tickets here DARE
And for no other reason than this is another great song, and an even better hairstyle, here’s Phil and Giorgio Moroder with another classic.