At first look the acts above don’t look like the typical student gig. Indeed dear reader I am not the typical student and should probably confirm to you now that I have a penchant for all things 1980s. Indeed, the couple I was sat next to seemed a little confused as to how old I was and whether I would know any of the songs being sung. Though I can forgive their confusion as when I looked around the Grand Opera House my housemate and myself looked like the youngest people there who hadn’t been dragged by their parents.
Nevertheless the lineup did not lack potential; for the uninitiated Go West , Nik Kershaw and T’Pau (or more accurately Carol Decker) were some of the biggest acts of the 1980s despite only having one number one between them. Each in their day performed across the world to huge crowds, now here they were in York.
The Grand Opera House seemed like an odd choice for a gig; this is probably the only time I will get to sit down at a concert. Whilst it may have suited the type of audience who came to see them the rigidity of the building and probably the fact that I have seen a lot of theatre here before made it feel slightly strange. That and perhaps the fact that it actually started at the billed time of 7.30pm.
To the uninitiated it might seem an odd choice to start with a cover rather than your own work but it worked well.
Decker was up first and played a menagerie of T’Pau‘s 80s classics and songs from their newest album Pleasure and Pain. The one thing that strikes you about Carol Decker is the sheer power in her voice which was especially significant considering that she had to cancel several gigs earlier this year due to damaging her voice whilst having bronchitis. ‘China in your hand’ was her final and best rendition as she jokingly bemoaned that she had been Nik Kershaw’s opening act for 30 years.
Then came the main double headliners Nik Kershaw and Go West who opened with Tears for Fears hit ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’. To the uninitiated it might seem an odd choice to start with a cover rather than your own work but it worked well and set the tone for the rest of the night. I’d never been to a gig with a double headliner before so it was interesting to see how they formatted the show; roughly the two acts would play a cover together then one act would do some of their own work before the other returned to the stage. It was a nice touch as it made the set a lot more varied.
Go West played a hugely varied set, full of energy and thoroughly entertained the audience with their best number being ‘The King of Wishful Thinking’, a song I hadn’t been familiar with before the evening but that was featured on the soundtrack for the film Pretty Woman and that has been stuck in my head since the gig.
The one thing I found frustrating about the gig was probably the audience; many turned up late and shuffled their way in halfway.
The highlight for me however was Nik Kershaw; one might think that after 30 years Kershaw’s voice would have changed as artists’ voices often do, but Kershaw sounded exactly the same. His set was filled with hit after hit; whilst Go West sometimes lacked vocal consistency at the start of the gig Kershaw nailed it every time. ‘Dancing Girls’, ‘The Riddle’ and of course “I won’t let the sun go down on me” proved to be the best of his set with the latter closing the main part of the concert.
The encore was also an interesting choice; having played a few modern covers throughout the evening such as ‘Black and Gold’ it shouldn’t have been a surprise when they walked back out to sing Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex on Fire’. A thoroughly passionate and energetic number to end the concert on and huge shame for the number of people who had already left.
In fact the one thing I found frustrating about the gig was probably the audience; many turned up late and shuffled their way in halfway through Carol Decker’s set. This wouldn’t have mattered so much in a more conventional venue but was very noticeable in the Grand Opera House. As was the noise of people talking and the amount of photography.
This minor jibe, however, should not take away from the near time travel experience produced by the gig with all the acts succeeding in recreating the 80s for the audience if only for one night.