Blancmange – In Concert – Paradiso, Amsterdam – April 9, 1983 – VPRO, Netherlands – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Blancmange in Concert this Christmas night, to help aid digestion and get you ready for leftovers tomorrow. Recorded live at the Paradiso in Amsterdam on Apri 9, 1983 by the venerable VPRO radio network in The Netherlands.
Blancmange formed in Harrow, London, in 1979. The band were a duo for most of their career, composed of Neil Arthur (vocals) and Stephen Luscombe (keyboards). They came to prominence in the early 1980s releasing four singles that entered the Top 20 charts in the UK, such as “Living on the Ceiling”, “Waves”, “Blind Vision” and “Don’t Tell Me”, and they released three albums during that decade, Happy Families (1982), Mange Tout (1984) and Believe You Me (1985).
The duo amicably parted in 1986 but reformed in the late 2000s, and in 2011 released their fourth album Blanc Burn. Luscombe left following the release due to ill health, and since then Arthur alone has continued to perform under the Blancmange name, during which time he has released seven new studio albums along with a re-recording of the band’s debut album, titled Happy Families Too…. He has also been involved in a further three collaborative albums as Fader (with Benge) and Near Future (with Jez Bernholz).
The duo found minor success with their 1982 double A-sided single, “God’s Kitchen”/”I’ve Seen the Word”, which peaked at no. 65 in the UK. This was followed by “Feel Me”, which peaked at no. 46. Later that year, they broke through with “Living on the Ceiling”, which reached no. 7 on the UK Singles Chart and was an international hit. Their debut album, Happy Families (which featured a sleeve painting in the style of Louis Wain and of the cover artwork of Enid Blyton’s books), also reached the top 30.
Further hits followed with “Waves” (no. 19), “Blind Vision” (no. 10), “That’s Love, That It Is” (no. 33) and “Don’t Tell Me” (no. 8), while their second album Mange Tout (1984) also reached no. 8 in the UK Albums Chart. The album featured a cover version of ABBA’s “The Day Before You Came”, which reached no. 22 in the UK (slightly higher than Abba’s original less than two years earlier). However, after this, the band’s fortunes declined. Their 1985 single “What’s Your Problem” only reached no. 40, and the subsequent album Believe You Me spent only two weeks in the UK Albums Chart, peaking at no. 54. The duo announced they were splitting in June 1986 after a Greenpeace concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Luscombe released an album of Indian-influenced music, New Demons, with Pandit Dinesh, Peter Culshaw, Priya Khajuria and Asha Bhosle under the name West India Company, in 1989. Meanwhile, Arthur released a solo album, Suitcase, in 1994, which spawned the charting single “I Love I Hate” (UK No. 50). In 2008, Edsel re-released the three studio albums as expanded versions.
For a reminder of their 1983 period, here they are in concert from Amsterdam from April 9, 1983.
Crank it up and enjoy. Get ready for New Years.