Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

May 13, 2012

DVD: Soft Cell ~ Live In Milan

(Click on heading to visit official Marc Almond website.)
Style: pop rock, electronica, live
Label: Eagle Vision
Year: 2001
Home: England

Concert location: Rolling Stone, Milan, Italy
Year Recorded: 2001
Length: 105 minutes
Bonus Features: 20 minute interview with band

Members: Mark Almond ~ vocals/percussion/rhythm guitar/theremin
Dave Ball ~ synthesizer

Everybody knows the 80's synthpop gay/straight duo SC due to their sexually-risque chart topper "Tainted Love". The fame of that song would bring their career to a close after only three albums, while peers Erasure & the Pet Shop Boys kept going, only for the duo to reunite for a new album & tour in 2001. This DVD catches them in absolute top form on that tour in looks, sound & a new set of songs that fit snuggly with the old ones. Some might decry the fact that it's not the early days but these guys are far better performers today while the modern light show, think Gary Numan, is perfect for them. Leather jacketed vocalist & defacto frontman Mark Almond comes on hitting a synth drum hesitantly almost like he's a little kid on stage for the first time, with a big grin & short blond hair that knocks the years off the 44 year old face, before pounding out a steady beat against Dave Bell's keyboard workings leading into the hit "Memorabilia", before abandoning the drums for the microphone. The grin never fades & he really looks like he's 18 years old, tattoo'd arms & all, as the camera flashes the heavily middle aged male audience singing the lyrics like they're also 18 again. It's an intimate performance drawing from the influence of raves where the energy is super high as if its one body not a band & an audience. Almond dances around on the stage like he's in his living room dancing out mini-stories, just here intricately choreographed (i.e. "Heat", "Monoculture", "Baby Doll", "Martin") while the older looking, though actually younger, but certainly more serious looking Bell is in the shadows pumping out multitudes of electronic layers & only noticeably smiling when Almond plays the theremin during "The Art Of Falling Apart". The venue is small & intimate & packed to the gills & one can imagine the early days of SC back in a small gay club with the same energy & excitement. It's those small gay clubs where Madonna got her inspiration, as "Vogue" comes right from those clubs, & one can see why. The music is fun, the beat steady & hidden under Almond's grin is some very personal lyrics of anxiety & frustration that are far more revealing that "Tainted Love" would ever let on would come from SC (for example, "Monoculture", "Divided Soul", "Youth", "Best Way To Kill", "The Art Of Falling Apart" "Baby Doll"). Almond may not have the strongest voice but his young looks & almost common sounding voice is part of his appeal. It's easy to see yourself on that stage having as much fun as him ... or if you're gay to see yourself with him on that stage, as the audience calls out as he pulls his t-shirt out to show his skinny abs. Further, the dancing & mannerisms, though a bit reminiscent of Mick Jagger today, is no different than what one might find at a packed gay bar on a Saturday night ... basically, SC is one of us ... that's the secret of SC. While the songs have far more depth than most of what's on the radio. If you only know the few hits of SC or the early 80's visuals or interested in rave culture, this video cannot be missed. A cute scene comes where roses are bounced up to the stage & Almond cuts his finger on a thorn & though makes a Christ joke ends up licking it as the song starts. Nothing like pain for one's work. Bonus footage includes an interview with both Ball & Almond where they discuss the origins of SC & the early days, the music that influenced them & what they wanted to do with their original music & what did happen right to the present. A really insightful & jovial narrative that's also very honest & objective. Fascinating hearing them call SC as Northern Soul meets Kraftwerk with a bit of Dusty Springfield, seeing Almond's face tweek at the word bootleg & Almond embarressingly revealing being inspired, in every way, by the S&M scene.

Tracks include: Memorabilia
Divided Soul
Last Chance
Best Way To Kill
The Art Of Falling Apart
Somebody Sometime
Baby Doll
Tainted Love
Where Did Our Love Go
Say Hello Wave Goodbye
Sex Dwarf

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