80s synth-pop pioneers, Heaven 17, and the rising star that that gave us the number one hit Bulletproof, La Roux, joined forces last night (26 Jan) at the BBC's Maida Vale studios for a one off 6 Music live combo.
It was a perfectly pitched meeting of minds, memorable hooks and complimentary voices as Glenn Gregory and Elly Jackson joined each other onstage to sing their hit singles Temptation and In For The Kill.
Each band demonstrated their well-crafted songs through tight and controlled, but passionate, performances, with light relief provided by humorous interludes of banter.
Highlights included a powerful performance of Fascist Groove Thang, which was banned on the BBC upon release, and La Roux’s softer ballad, Cover My Eyes, made all the more heart-breaking by the warm harmonies of Heaven 17’s backing singers.
A unique bond between the two sides shone through as they bombarded the audience with a wall of sound from vintage synths and drum machines.
Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware laughed as he told us he was actually playing the first synthesizer he ever brought, purchased in 1977 for £328 instead of a car. “I’ve still never learnt to drive,” he remarked.
With the full line-up of both bands amounting to nine people on stage, they finished with the chosen cover, Terence Trent D’Arby’s 1988 track Sign Your Name, originally produced by Ware.
The sincere love-in of mutual appreciation was so strong, it looks like it could be the start of something special.
As for what’ s next, Glenn joked: “I think I’ll go on tour with them in America, they’re a really nice bunch of people.”
Adding seriously: “I think we could do something really good together.”
Martyn admitted he was surprised by how much the two singers' voices connected.
"We will definitely, definitely do something with them. Ben [Langmaid] would die to do something with them. I just wanna hang out with them as well."
La Roux - Elly Jackson
“There’s an interesting contemporary aspect to Elly’s voice and the smoothness and richness of Glenn’s voice,” he explained. “This magical synergy between two different creative forces, I thought was something really quite unusual and beautiful.”
As for going into the studio together, they are game.
“The least that could happen is that we should work on one song together, because I think there’s something special going on with those voices and it would be really nice, and silly not to do it,” said Glenn.
There was no hesitation from Elly. She said she and her writing partner and producer Ben Langmaid would certainly be up for working with Heaven 17 again.
“We’d definitely be up for it,” she responded. “If you respect each other and like making music it’s only ever a matter of time and schedule unfortunately, which is annoying. For us, we’ve got to write our second record but we don’t have any time to get into the studio until August.
“We’ve got to get some time but if we have time we will definitely, definitely do something with them. Ben would die to do something with them. I just wanna hang out with them as well, they’re just funny people.”
Tune into Steve Lamacq's show on 6 Music on Wednesday 27th January to hear two of the session tracks.
The rest will be broadcast on Friday from Friday 29th January at 1900 GMT on 6 Music, when it will also be available on red button.
(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
Geisha Boys and Temple Girls
Let Me Go
Cover My Eyes (with Heaven 17's backing singers)
In For The Kill by La Roux (with Glenn Gregory)
Temptation by Heaven 17 (with Elly Jackson)
Sign Your Name by Terence Trent D’Arby - Heaven 17 and La Roux
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