Hits and Pieces at the Roundhouse – a review (22 March 2017)

I’ve been a fan of Marc Almond and Soft Cell since 1981, when, like so many of my generation I saw Marc on Top of the Pops and was instantly enthralled by the exotic character before me. I didn’t “fancy” him per se, but he drew me in, and enticed me like no other. Thirty six years later his unquestionable charm, mystique and excellent repertoire continues to reel me in, like a moth to the flame. 

Tonight (22/3/17) is the first night of Marc’s mini tour to promote his new album of hits and “pieces”. The Hits, we already know, global successes which in some circles, define him. He is SO much more than just his global hits. The “pieces” being should’ve been hits, and could’ve been hits (and would’ve been hits, with the right record company backing). 

This show was definitely what I refer to as a “Tainted Love gig”. Don’t get me wrong, that’s no bad thing, and there’s something to be said for nostalgic familiarity, and knowing what you’re going to get. Just don’t ask me to wave an inflatable pink flamingo aloft and we’ll still be on speaking terms! 

For the record, my favourite kind of Marc Almond show is in an intimate venue such as Wiltons, or the Almedia, even the recent exclusive The Magic Show event which I was tremendously fortunate enough to attend (thanks again Kathryn). The type of shows where you can really feel connected to Marc and the set list is of his more ‘obscure’, lesser known and sometimes unheard of songs. It’s where he really comes into his own and you can physically feel, and well as hear, the emotional delivery of each track. The bright ‘Las Vegas’ neon lights of the commercialism of Tainted Love are a million miles away from these type of Marc Almond shows, but I digress…

However, tonight was all about the hits and nothing but the hits, and Marc dutifully doled them out one after another with his own unique brand of energy and enthusiasm. Starting with songs from his mid 90s album ‘Fantastic Star’ and working his way haphazardly through his immense back catalogue, we were treated to Soft Cell classics, Number 1 smashes, and songs which really deserved to do much better at the time they were released, than they did. 

Despite of (or because of) the fact I met Marc ten days ago at a HMV launch of Hits and Pieces (the album), I’d been looking forward to tonight in an extraordinary (stupid assed) way.   That night he’d been the consummate professional, politely asking each fan who to make the signature out to etc. When it was my turn I was thrilled to be greeted with a “Hi Ange, how are you?” from Marc, who kindly agreed to break the “one signed item only” rule for me (as a special favour for a friend) and also pose for a photo or two. He’s such a lovely man. 

There were tonnes of friends and acquaintances there tonight and seeing them all, away from the impersonal nature of social media, was fabulous. I look forward to that element of Marc’s shows as much as the show itself. They are “whole evening” experiences where I can immerse myself amongst friends. I can go to any Marc Almond show alone (and often do) and see dozens of people I know. Tonight I was accompanied by some really good friends who also love Marc, making the experience doubly special. 

Highlights for me was seeing Marc perform Soul Inside, and Memorabilia which was a complete surprise. Everyone I spoke to agreed it was an excellent gig. 

Hits and Pieces continues to tour, taking in Warrington, Perth, Buxton and York but not necessarily in that order! For more details go to http://www.marcalmond.co.uk or check out my “Marc Almond’s Fan” page on Facebook for any stray last minute ticket availability.

Hits and Pieces – The Best of Marc Almond & Soft Cell 

Ange Chan is a poet and novelist. Her fourth poetry collection “Fame; What’s Your Name?” and her second novel “Baby, Can You Hear Me?” were both published in paperback and Kindle in 2016. Her third novel will be published in 2017.  

She regularly writes for the website We Are Cult, and the Doctor Who Appreciation Society’s fanzine ‘Celestial Toyroom’. 


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