By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
The fact that this show is a co-production of 104.1 The Mall and VH1 Classic tells you everything you need to know about the Human League's current standing: '80s-nostalgia fodder. But a strong case can be made that the Human League were electronic innovators. Their early singles and first two albums reveal a raw, experimental outfit that owed much to Kraftwerk, Suicide and even Throbbing Gristle. By 1981, they had a new lineup, a megahit album in Dare and a more streamlined, poppy sound. You know the story from there -- the waitress in the cocktail bar, et cetera.
The past couple of years have been kinder to the League. Caroline Records re-released Dare, along with the earlier Reproduction, and Travelogue. The Golden Hour of the Future, a compilation of demos and early recordings, turned up on a UK import. NYC-based March Records issued a tribute album, Reproductions, featuring the likes of Stephin Merritt and Momus. Moreover, thanks to the trendier "electro" moniker, synth-pop is back in style, with acts such as Ladytron and the Faint mining the League's early analog keyboards and drum programs for inspiration.
The Human League could do a better job exploiting this interest -- maybe a guest spot at All Tomorrow's Parties or a deal with a prestige indie, such as Warp. As it is, the band has a greatest-hits compilation due out on CD and DVD, and the current live set reflects this fact. You'll hear the hits, a few songs from their most recent CD (2001's Secrets) and a few choice vintage tracks, such as "Being Boiled." Expect a solid show, if not necessarily an innovative one.