Altered Images, Modern English, The Event Group: Heaven, London

ALTERED IMAGES at Heaven draws a crowd large enough to stretch a queue almost to Charing Cross station. Semi-dead pop stars gathering dust around the bar, self-consciously unaware of recognition, merge into the background as squashed flies do on a car windscreen — merely an irritating detraction.

The evening’s inevitable commotion begins with Calling Hearts, who I miss.

Modern English play next, and, although ‘Gathering Dust’ was a strong single, their set is monotonous, with intense (volume not depth) synth dominating rather than accentuating the rest of the band, and no clear division being recognized between influence and plagiarism.

The Event Group are a non-event. Did they play?

A pause ensues until after one, when Altered Images appear on stage. Clare hops around, simultaneously coy and confident, with a stage presence as strikingly attractive as Edwyn Juice’s. Her voice fluctuates, soaring clearly then piercing sharply, floating ethereally, trilling, then shrilly jabbing. The songs are unremarkable; I don’t remember any, other than the giddy ‘Happy Birthday’… a desultory air and dreamy vocals. At all times, Clare is the focal point, preening, howling like a Banshee, saving the disposable mediocrity of the music from sinking into bland oblivion.

Altered Images come off at two, and the crowds flood inexorably to the bars to savour the last Heavenly hour, and discuss what to wear next week. The journalist skulks off home.

© Leyla SanaiNew Musical Express, 12 September 1981

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