Soft Cell - Live
Recorded across several dates of their comeback tour this year, Soft Cell - Live is a double disc spanning their centire career, through from the first album's "Bedsitter" right through to "Le Grand Guignol" from the most recent record.
The songs here range from the political (Monoculture) to, well, to a crowd yelling Sex Dwarf... ("I want you to all scream on the count of four...")and serve as a reminder of how influential they have been on those who came after them, from those who freely admit it (Pet Shop Boys) to artists like Fischerspooner who later trod the same path.
In set pacing, you can see that the big run of the hits is at the end, so Disc 2 offers more to fans unfamiliar with their newer work, with the run of Torch, Bedsitter, Tainted Love and Almond's cajoling of the crowd into singing along proving highly enjoyable. It isn't, however, too heavy on the less well known tracks from the most recent album, with only around half of them making this set.
One thing to make quite clear is that this isn't one of those live albums that pretends that the audience weren't here - in fact, you could almost be forgiven for mistaking this for an audience recorded bootleg in places, such is their presence. There's singing, there's screaming and there's loud applause, particularly during the big hits - Say Hello, Wave Goodbye and of course, Tainted Love make this particularly obvious. That's not a bad thing, necessarily, as it reminds you that there was a crowd there, and that they were loving every minute of it, and as a souvenir of a night out, if you were at the tour, this is surely essential. For everyone else, it's slightly less important, but it serves as both an excellent introduction to Soft Cell for those who aren't already familiar, and a reason to catch them next time round...
The problem with electro pop live is that it rarely varies much from it's studio incarnation, and the live setting doesn't necessarily bring much to the audio.
It's certainly not a bad live album, and not a bad record taken on it's own. The real question is how it will fare outside of the core audience who were at the gigs. For everyone else, it's a chance to catch up with one of the most influential electro-pop bands of the 80s, and realise that actually, it's not all just about Tainted Love.