Score - 10
10 out of 10 for a perfect evening in Copenhagen.
Blancmange’s gig at Kulturhuset Islands Brygge on 10th of March in Copenhagen was preceeded by an artist talk with Neil Arthur. Jeannie Mortensen started the interview off and then let the 75 eager VIP ticket fans have the microphone. One of the last questions were whether Neil preferred to sit in the studio or be out playing live. Always tongue in cheek, Neil, laughing, had to admit that if he needed to pick one it would have been the studio. One of many answers that had us laughing with him that night.
It is quite obvious that Neil likes VERY MUCH to be in the studio, because there is no mistaking the energy and presence he and his colleagues Oogo Maia (keyboards) and David Rhodes (guitar) show on stage.
This musical weekend in Copenhagen is nothing if not one of contrasts. On the night before, we saw Vince Clarke and Andy Bell hold court at the Royal Arena in front of 10 000 people. The day after there are only about 200 witnessing Blancmange. In the artist talk, Neil also answered the question if he regrets them splitting the band up back there in ’87 after three albums and several top hits. The answer comes almost before the question is finished. No. Neil, and Stephen we must assume, wanted to do their thing and promised each other to stop as soon as it stopped being fun. When a record company person heard a demo and told them it was going to be a hit that was “the kiss of death”.
For those reasons, I have to assume that a reason behind Neil Arthur being able to put such an enormous amount of energy in his stage presence is just that – the exclusivity. Among the 200 were a noticeable amount of British people (and Swedes, for that matter) and even if the 10 000 crowd singing on Friday was massive then it is still a by far more powerful experience to stand there and shout the choruses of ”Living on the ceiling”, ”I can’t explain”, ”Don’t tell me” and ”Feel me”.
Large parts of the latest album Unfurnished Rooms are performed during the night. I really like that album, even though I don’t think it’s their best one since the comeback in 2011. But on stage I finally “get” some of the songs a bit more. With Neil and his improvisations, expression and infectious energy there’s not a thing to complain about. Or maybe there is. I want more. A larger venue, better sound system, more people and just more of everything. This certainly is an impressive setlist and still there is so many more classics to choose from. Not least more songs from Blanc Burn, Semi-detached and Commuter 23. But I just can’t be complaining about this perfect evening. A perfect gig gets a perfect 10 from me, and I just hope more people will get to see Blancmange perform live. It’s just one of the best concert experiences you can imagine. I for one hope we’ll get to see Neil and the others back on these shores as soon as possible.