The Art Of Noise, Fountainhead: Hammersmith Odeon, London

FOUNTAINHEAD ARE having a problem selling themselves. They don’t want to wear poncey clothes, or go for all that ‘Hammersmith, howya doin’?’ blarney. But there’s nothing to focus your attention on at all. ‘Sometimes’ could be China Crisis circa ’83, and that’s another problem; everyone else has moved on from there. ‘Heart And Soul’ provided the only real excitement, and suggested that the boys get a bigger kick out of playing blues and jazz than this ‘modem’ dance music.

They could learn a lot from Art Of Noise. Up on the screen, ‘modest’ Max Headroom tinkled on the ivories, then deigned to introduce his favourite ‘backing band’. JJ and Anne Dudley were having a great time, hammering the Fairlight and splashing away at the piano, while behind them, the shrink-wrapped Noisettes put in some lively, clamouring vocals. With the scholarly introductions and the quaint stage antics, it was more like a Victorian science lecture than a rock and roll show.

It was surprising how most of the high-tech compositions succeeded on stage. ‘Instruments Of Darkness’ was a miss, and ‘Backbeat’ was over-indulgent, but ‘Moments In Love’ emerged as a wonderfully hypnotic piece. The ending was pure pantomime, with four cowboys coming on to play geetar for ‘Peter Gunn’, followed by a silly version of Glenn Miller’s ‘In The Mood’.

In both bad and good senses, you might say the Art Of Noise have ‘sold out’, and the result was a decent evening’s entertainment. If this is pop art, then I just might buy it.

© Stuart BailieRecord Mirror, 30 August 1986

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