Assorted scribblings of a dog-eared music journalist

Soundcheck | Live | August 1984

Piccadilly St James's Church, London

Here's a great game, boys and girls. The idea is to see how pale a pop group's other songs seem when set alongside their massive hit single. It's even more fun when that single was their debut. But this pop group aren't playing cricket. Refusing to stick to the rules, they deliver ace after ace. 

St James's is a magnificent building, with its oh-so-highly decorative roof and temptation of a million religious metaphors. Bronski Beat are an ideal choice for this atmospheric setting. Not so moody to be oppressive, not so jovial as to appear ridiculous.

The voice of head choirboy Jimmy Somerville is a natural focus of attention – and it immediately sets the Bronskis apart from bands of a similar genre. No individual praise is necessary, though. It's taken as read. Yet any fears that this would be a one man show are never realised. At times, the vocals almost melt into the background to become another instrument. 

Strangely enough, this is most evident on "Ain't Necessarily So" and "No More War", two songs with less, or no, musical invitation to uproot the feet and swing the shoulders. During such watering holes – it's a hot, hot night – Bronski Beat touch something of the beauty and also the fragile nature of the stained glass window behind them. Soul moods for electro moderns. 

The more mellow offerings are a nice supplement to the dance oriented meat of the meal. As always, "Small Town Boy" sounds wonderful and so does the version of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love". To say it is fast and furious would be inadequate. Giorgio Moroder would have been proud – and he'd probably agree that Bronski Beat are real good news. 

Here endeth the first lesson.

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