The Human League had to cancel their original planned show in Sheffield's City Hall at the start of December due to unprecedented snow fall bringing the entire city to a grinding halt. Phil Oakey was careful to address this with the audience, thanking them for their support both now and in the past. He was rewarded with a roar of enthusiasm. 29 years after 'Dare' and 33 after the band's inception this band are polished, professional but retain a very human appeal. They were simply fabulous.

The set was the light show you would expect, the sound clean and crisp. Oakey came on looking somewhere between a boxer and a futuristic monk in his big boots and cowl like hood and shades. Joanne Catherall is still effecting her almost bored disengagement and Susan Ann Sully is still as slinky and sultry as ever, almost feline in her dance moves much to the appreciation of all the boys in the audience. Rarely have I experienced an audience in such good spirits it must be said. There was no sense of any underlying tension, no pushing and shoving. just everyone enjoying the music and atmosphere. There was a cross section in attendance from twenty year old new 'new romantics' who weren't even born the first time round, to older people to very young children all enjoying the show.

Home town gigs do seem to have an ambiance all of their own and the mutual appreciation on both sides of the crash barrier was very evident. In eighty minutes the Human League stormed through all their hits, old and new and seemed very relaxed and to enjoy themselves hugely. We went from 'Mirror Man' to 'Lebanon' to 'When Will I See You Again?' to new single 'Night People' and everywhere of note in-between.

Oakey bounded from one side of the stage to another, made eye contact with the fans and sang to the friends and family on the balcony. The crowd sang along and danced with gleeful abandon. Moving right to the back of the crowd the atmosphere was the same as right at the front. By the time we reached the finale ('Don't You Want Me' of course) we were singing and dancing along totally unselfconsciously and encore 'Electric Dreams' finished the night off perfectly.

The photographs that accompany this article were taken for Pennyblackmusic by Mel Preston.

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