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The Human League

Saturday, August 9, at the Beachland Ballroom.


The Human League
  • The Human League
Now that electroclash and DJ song-melding have made New Wave a popular era from which to pillage ideas, Human League, the synthpop innovator from Sheffield, England, is enjoying a boost in credibility. Earlier this year, noted mash-up maestro Richard X took the digital dirge of their 1978 debut single, "Being Boiled" --dating from when the League was still a gloomy gang of automatons featuring future Heaven 17 founder Martyn Ware -- for the background of a UK hit remake of Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody." Furthermore, the recent reissue of their 1981 career pinnacle, Dare, proved how forward-thinking the sextet was even then. Stripped of the eerie robot rock of the first two albums, Dare's sparkling keyboards, monotone vocals, and stiff beats sound oddly warm today, capturing both giddy disco ("Love Action [I Believe in Love]") and breakup anthems ("Don't You Want Me") with a mechanical ease that retrofitting bands such as the Faint and Ladytron can only try to emulate. Now pared down to a trio -- poker-faced Maybelline posterboy Phil Oakey and longtime vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susanne Sulley -- the Human League's Beachland Ballroom show will be a parade of such hits as "Human" and "(Keep Feeling) Fascination," songs that still function as buoyant reminders that retro doesn't always have to mean antiquated.

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