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What's on: Blancmange, Darwen, May 26
WHEN it was announced that Blancmange, purveyors of electro pop since the Eighties, were to play Darwen Library Theatre, the show sold out within days.
A second date was added and that too is well on the way to being a full house.
For singer Neil Arthur the shows represent the ultimate nostalgia trip, returning to play in his home town for the first time.
“Over the years I’d always had it in my head to play Darwen,” said Neil.
“We played King George’s Hall in Blackburn in the Eighties, I think it was my 25th or 26th birthday — but never Darwen.
“I remember just playing King George’s was a major thrill. That was where I went to watch bands. I saw David Bowie there — I still have the ticket, number four — and I stood in front of guitarist Mick Ronson.
“When I was a kid we used to have an annual bulb competition when you were in the infants and everyone would buy a hyacinth bulb and you’d grow them in a pot, then they’d all go on display in the basement of the library, which is what is now the Library Theatre.
“Also when I was at Darwen Technical School there was an annual art exhibition in the library and I used to do a lot of pen and ink drawings of local scenes and my work was on display there.
“But this is going to be fabulous. I can’t wait to see old mates who I haven’t seen for years.”
Between 1982 and 1985 Blancmange were at the forefront of the electro-synth movement, with seven top 40 hits and two hits albums.
Then last year they released the album Blanc Burn to critical acclaim and embarked on their first tour in 25 years.
“It was so humbling to see so many people coming to those shows,” said Neil.
“After the shows I’d get a beer and tell people to come and have a chat and I’d sign anything for them. To hear their stories was one of the great parts of the tour.
"There were fans from the old days, fans who never seen us live before and others brought their children to see us.
“When the current tour was proposed and the idea of a Darwen date suggested we had to do it.”
Sadly Stephen Luscombe, Neil’s partner in crime and keyboard wizard, won’t be on the tour due to illness.
“He’s doing OK,” said Neil.
“I speak to him every day but it just wouldn’t be wise for him to tour. It’s not just the playing, it’s everything that surrounds a tour like the travelling.
"But I will have Graham H with me on keyboads and Pandit Dinesh on percussion, who have both been around for over 25 years and are brilliant lads.”
The second Darwen date will see the end of the current tour.
“We’re just seeing what happens,” said Neil.
“There is talk of a tour later in the year and the possibility of performing our first album in its entirety and Stephen and I have got lots of songs.
“But I’ve always been perverse. I need to be kept interested.
“Who knows? This may be the last time I get to do this so I’m determined to enjoy it as much as possible.”
Blancmange, Darwen Library Theatre, Saturday, May 26. Details from the box office on 01254 706006 or King George’s Hall box office 0844 847 1664.