In a league of their own.
It was about ten to twelve, I had my pad prepped and spare pens to the ready. Quickly I scanned through my questions, reordering them for the fifth time. Everything set, only one little problem, it’s childcare day.
Charlotte crawled out clumsily from the other side of the sofa, looking at me with her endearing toothy grin, and reminded me that the live baby soundtrack had a very real possibility of unwelcomed playback during my interview. A plan was needed.
My macintoch on-screen clock told me that it was time to make the scheduled call, so I picked up the handset and jabbed in Joanne’s number. After a quite a few rings I was greeted with a soft yet relaxed yorkshire accent making me feel at ease instantly. I thought it made sence to come clean about Charlotte, explaining that we might be joined half way though and that If possible I could re-arrange the interview.
“No, don’t worry about it, I’m used to it by now” Jonanne said and with that I began to probe with my simple list of somewhat beige questions mixed with a gentle sell about the Knutsford Times. Joanne struck me as a very genuine and interested person with an interest in the Knutsford Times community news project.
Joanne, like all of the 80’s musos, is part of that original modern-era pop royalty that still continue to perform successfully, and to add, perform internationally. Although Joanne hasn’t visited Knutsford before, she was genuinely looking forward to playing on the 2nd of August at Tatton. “I have never been to Knutsford before, its odd really as its not that far away so I don’t know why I’ve never been before”
Resisting the usual how did it all start rigmarole, I elected to quiz her on the original career path just prior to music. “Well I was training to be a psychologist and get a proper job, knuckle down, get a career as I was never really into playing music, but it was the next step as we were all serious listeners of music.”
The Human League only toured twice during the eighties, their then record company restricted them from live public performances as they felt that it might damage record sales. “It wasn’t a confidence issue performing live but it was all about image in those days.” Thankfully not all music and haircuts from the era has been revived to haunt us in our adulthood but, for those that have gone the distance, retro pop is obviously successful.
The Human League played at Thetford on the 9th July and their more recent gig in Shrewsbury was yet another sellout performance for the group, albeit a wet one. “That was great, but the gig on Saturday at Shrewsbury was all going well until the rain came down. The amazing thing was that people didn’t run for cover or go home, they just stayed, dealt with the rain and enjoyed the music!” she remarked. Their recent tour in Australia saw them feature at the V festival In Melbourne and Perth where the rain drove people under cover and even threatened to cancel the gig.
That British spirt is the essence behind us laughing off problems, muddling through and just “getting on with it.” It drives our music festival culture and yet harks back to our more forgiving and hardier past. It is the past that comes back to entertain us all over again, through these national and interntatinal revival concerts, to keep us all smiling and recovering lyrics engraved in the mind from endlessly singing into tennis racket handles, pencil cases and other makeshift microphones.
They have been performing live now for the past two years and thoroughly enjoy the experience. “Yeah, it’s great fun and it’s all different now as there arn’t the same egos as there was back then, it’s more camaraderie, actually Carol Decker waited about for us at one venue just to say hello, introduce herself” I did wonder if there was a kind of great big revival get together back stage but sadly, due to schedules, bookings and perhaps a little fatigue everyone just shoots off.
At this point in the interview, Charlotte had come about and began her bring tonsils and lungs online to test my so far so good chat. Luckily I was pre-armed with a small bag of dried fruit bits and an odd yoghurty coating. Her two “I’m not missing anything daddy” eyes tracked my actions as I skidded a few of the tasty little beads across the wooden floor.
With so many tracks played over and over again, I guessed that there would be a specific track that hadn’t faded in real personal enjoyment. “Electric Dreams, everytime. When it was being recorded we were both away and didn’t get the chance to perform on the single. They ended up finding a two girls that sounded like us, but it’s become our anthem now”
The group are in the studio, this time at a more relaxed pace working on a new album. Joanne didnt give me any more information about the project. “Its just not even finished yet, it’s ongoing but it’s due to come out next year some time. It’s not a rush job I suppose, just a little bit of laziness really”
I felt the climbing hands of my daughter and looked down only to see Charlottle looking up at me with a dried berry crammed between her two front teeth. The signal to end the interview was nigh. I was pretty much done apart from two pointlesly cheesy questions I had scrubbed out. After thanking her for the interview and time taken the call was ended as the task of notes translation began.
You can see the Human League perfrom live at the Back to the Eighties picnic in the park at Tatton on the 2nd of August. You can book online here, that is, if there are still tickets left.