New wave hero Marc Almond lit up Hall One at the Sage Gateshead with a numinous set that showcased his incredible vocal talent and fit-to-bursting back catalogue, alongside an unexpectedly vibrant and immediately classic-sounding set of new songs.
We may have Chris Braide to thank. The triple-threat singer/songwriter/producer took some time out from working with Lana Del Rey and Pharrell Williams to get in touch with Marc, convincing him to create what he described as THE ultimate Marc Almond Album. The result was “The Velvet Trail”, just released and featuring a bunch of songs that fully commits to the synth, sex, and melancholic yearning that defined the best of Almond’s work, embracing the tropes of the period without ever falling into pastiche, and putting the eighties’ finest torch singer back in the spotlight once more.
And it’s in the spotlight where Marc comes alive. Bounding out onto the stage with a relentless physicality that maintained itself through a meaty 21-song set, the synthpop legend worked the crowd effortlessly. Bringing an oh-so-camp warmth to a mixed crowd of old Gutterhearts and newcomers, with sincere and earnest chatty asides breaking up the set and a relentless cabaret-infused energy compelling the whole room to their feet.
Almond more than delivered with a synth-soaked, warmly-melancholic and heartfelt show
The new album took up a good third of the show, with Marc smashing out new Braide co-penned belters Minotaur, Bad to Me, The Velvet Trail, Scar, Zipped Black leather Jacket, When the Comet Comes, and Demon Lover. The rest of the set was a wonderful curates egg of the best of Almond’s legacy, storming through Black heart, Meet Me In My Dreams, The Stars We Are, Brilliant Creatures, closing with the glorious Bedsitter and Soul Inside.
But of course, such a relentlessly theatrical night would be nothing without an encore, and along it came, opening with Gutter Hearts as a nod to his adoring and long-serving fans, continuing with a thumping, completely unadulterated Tainted Love, and ending the night with the heart-breakingly romantic and synthy Soft Cell classic Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.
With a brilliant set, effortless showmanship, and a voice not only completely immune to the laws of time but now more soulful than ever, Almond more than delivered with a synth-soaked, warmly-melancholic and heartfelt show that made us want to not only delve into his rich back catalogue, but savour his brilliant new work too.
As the man himself said, “it’s all neon after all”.
Live / Sage Gateshead / Gateshead / 29 April 2015
Originally published at Narc Magazine Online
B&W Photo: Idene Roozbayani