Produced by Trevor Horn
Sat 13 Nov 2004
The bill of this celebratory charity concert resembles a Christmas nostalgia tour booked by lucky-dip, including drippy 1980s duo Dollar, Lisa Stansfield, Seal, the Pet Shop Boys, prog rockers Yes, Russian cod-lesbians Tatu and indie darlings Belle and Sebastian. Prince Charles is in the audience, possibly as the result of a nationwide search to find someone who hadn’t heard of any of them.
Trevor Horn’s solitary hit as a vocalist, Buggles’ tinny Video Killed the Radio Star, is a bad start. He dons the turquoise Timmy Mallet spectacles he wore in the video: a sporting gesture, since they now make him look like Coronation Street’s supermarket-managing lothario, Reg Holdsworth.
It is obvious why he swapped stage for studio—
Grace Jones does her usual impersonation of a woman evading a team of psychiatric nurses, but the majestic, languid funk of Slave to the Rhythm may be the best record Horn ever made. It is the evening’s first hit.
ABC are the second. Singer Martin Fry mercilessly hams up The Look of Love and Poison Arrow, somehow managing a costume change between them. It doesn’t matter: ABC’s dramatically orchestrated white disco always had a whiff of the preposterous about it, and the songs still sound fantastic.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood do their best without vocalist Holly Johnson, but Relax and Two Tribes were always records rather than songs. Like much of Horn’s best work, they were designed as studio-bound production extravaganzas, not live showstoppers: a dichotomy that explains why such a star-packed show ultimately underwhelms.