Few Synth-Pop bands have stood the test of time as England’s The Human League have. With an enduring catalog of hits and a consistent member lineup since 1981, fans can expect a quality performance on every tour. This past Sunday, May 13th at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, the trio of vocalists — Philip Oakey, Joanne Catherall, and Susan Ann Sulley — along with a full band, delivered all the hits one would expect, along with some lesser-known gems for the more hardcore fans.
Kicking off their set with the more recent favorite, ‘Sky’, the band delved into classic material including ‘Mirror Man’, and ‘Heart Like a Wheel’. Key vocalist Oakey took to the stage wearing a floor-length leather vest, broad black pants and combat boots, along with a pair of circular mirrored shades that gave him an intimidating look that complemented his deep, commanding voice. Vocalists Catherall and Sulley each wore their own take on glam, with the former going for tight and sparkling, and the latter flowing and ruffled. While Catherall and Sulley were mostly stationary at their microphones for the performance, Oakey roamed the stage, directing the crowd’s attention to the other vocalists as well as their touring support band members.
The Human League made sure to cover their bases by playing some of their most well-known hits, including ‘(Keep Feeling) Fascination’, and ‘Don’t You Want Me’, which saw the audience at the peak of their excitement, with fans singing the lyrics to the latter before Oakey even returned to the stage after a brief break.
But it was kicking off their encore with their first single, the more obscure track ‘Being Boiled’, the showed who the more diehard fans were in the audience. While the sold-out show became humid with the full house and impending Summer temperatures, almost everyone I looked at was smiling or appeared to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. Fellow Synth-pop heroes Book of Love opened the night.