They were an Eighties’ pop sensation and 25 years on Blancmange are gearing up for their long-awaited revival tour which comes to Manchester on March 7 and Liverpool on March 10. We spoke to Darwen-born frontman Neil Arthur.

THE last time they all played together was at the Royal Albert Hall, 25 years ago, but Neil Arthur says that the spark has never gone away.

Now, after living away from the limelight and having families, Blancmange have reunited and are heading out on tour once again, including North West dates in Manchester and Liverpool.

And Darwen-born frontman Neil says that their new album, Blanc Burn, which is released on March 7, has been named after the influence the town has had on their music.

“My first-ever concert was at King George’s Hall in Blackburn. I saw Mungo Jerry and then later saw David Bowie there.

"When we played at King George’s in the ’80s it was really nerve-wracking. I thought there was a lot of expectation playing to my home crowd.

“I enjoyed it, though, and got the chance to sing on the same stage that David Bowie had stood on when I went to see him,” said former Darwen Technical School and Moorland School pupil Neil.

“I have very fond memories of Darwen. It has made a massive imprint on me.

"One of the songs on the new album is called By The Bus Stop at Woolies.

"When you listen it has lots of references to Darwen and Blackburn.

"Another track, called Probably Nothing to Me, is about the times I spent walking on the moors near Bull Hill.”

Neil, now 52, lived on the Birchall Estate and later on Almond Street and although he has not lived in East Lancashire since 1977, he regularly visits the area to see friends in Darwen and Blackburn and family in Oswaldtwistle.

He is now gearing up for their tour, which kicks off in Glasgow on March 6.

He added: “We have got together and started running through the electronic programming but are not yet in full-blown rehearsals.

"I have been involved in music and played gigs on a small scale over the last 25 years with a group of friends but it will be great to get back on stage.

“I am nervous but I always was. I think I would be worried if I didn’t get worried and have an adrenaline rush.”

Last year Neil was contacted by Faithless, who wanted to sample the hit Feel Me, while Blancmange have also been cited as an influence on charttoppers La Roux, who invited Neil to go and watch their show last year.

Out of the limelight, Neil has been busy behind the scenes making music for TV programmes and advertisements, including the title themes for BBC’s The Real Slumdog Children of Mumbai, Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers and ITV’s World Cup coverage.

He said: “It got to the point in the '80s that it was more pressure than it was fun.

"When we came off stage at the Royal Albert Hall we decided it was time to call it a day to save our friendship.

"I’m sure we would have stopped being friends if we had carried on at that time.”

But after two decades Neil and Steve Luscombe met up and started talking about possibly reuniting to write songs together.

He added: “I’d never really thought much about getting back together but then it cropped up in conversation with Steve when we met up a few years ago.

"We wrote a few songs and it just worked.

“We ended up with enough material to fill more than an album and went to a recording company and asked them what they thought.

"They liked it and the rest has gone from there.

"We are not deluded. We don’t expect it to be at the top of the charts but hopefully people will like our music and buy it.”

While Neil isn’t working he admits to spending much of his time following his beloved team Blackburn Rovers.

“I’m actually wearing my Rovers shirt at the moment,” he laughed.

“I watch all the matches on TV and try to get to as many of them as I can.

"For Christmas I actually got a replica of my brick in the wall at Ewood.

"A couple of years ago I got a call from Sky asking me to play in a six-a-side celebrity match with some of the players.

"I jumped at the chance. It was a dream come true. I was like a kid at Christmas.”

* Blancmange play Manchester Academy on Monday, March 7 then Liverpool Academy on Thursday, March 10.