Club For Heroes
The Blitz Club celebrated its 30th Anniversary with a special reunion at its old site which is now The Red Rooms in Holborn, London.
its original soundtrack centred on the music of DAVID BOWIE but also included KRAFTWERK, ROXY MUSIC, ENO, LA DUSSELDORF, GINA X PERFORMANCE, ULTRAVOX, THE NORMAL, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA, TELEX and MAGAZINE amongst others.
This vibrant post-punk scene, whose clientel were dubbed ‘The Blitz Kids’ and ‘The New Romantics’, became the catalyst for several bands including SPANDAU BALLET, CULTURE CLUB and of course, VISAGE as well as assorted fashion designers and visual artists.
Hosted by its founders Steve Strange and Rusty Egan, the event also saw the launch of the ULTRAVOX ‘Remembering Eden – 30th Anniversary Tour Book’.
Selling out its initial run, the evening started with a book reading from Jus Forrest and Helen Waterman who compiled this lavish momento to the live reunion of ULTRAVOX.
Featuring Rusty Egan’s foreword, it recalled how when recording the first VISAGE album at Genetic Studios in Berkshire, Rusty Egan suggested to Billy Currie that Midge Ure should join synthesizer pioneers ULTRAVOX as their new lead vocalist.
Fittingly enough, the book was launched on the 30th Anniversary of the hit single ‘Vienna’ which was criminally kept off No1 by Australian comedian Joe Dolce. ‘Vienna’ later got its revenge by being voted ‘Best Single’ at the 1982 British Rock & Pop Awards. With its highly memorable cinematic promo video and neo-classical pomp and circumstance, the song once referred to as “The Bohemian Rhapsody Of The New Romantic Generation” has since gone on to influence acts as diverse as MUSE and TAKE THAT!
Among the special guests attending tonight’s party are SPANDAU BALLET’s Martin Kemp and John Keeble, Martin Kemp’s wife and WHAM! backing singer Shirlie Holliman, SPANDAU BALLET manager Steve Dagger and renowned photographer Peter Ashworth whose striking images adorn the covers of SOFT CELL’s ‘Non Stop Erotic Cabaret’ and ‘The Art Of Falling Apart’, ASSOCIATES ‘Sulk’, EURYTHMICS ‘Touch’ and the very first VISAGE album.
Also reunited for the first time in many years were members of The Blitz Club dance troupe SHOCK including Carole Caplin, LA Richards, Tim Dry aka Tik from TIK & TOK and Barbie Wilde who appeared in ULTRAVOX’s ‘Passing Strangers’ promo video with the absent Sean Crawford aka Tok.
After an initial DJ set by Rusty Egan, PARADISE POINT took to the stage to deliver a lively performance with their bassist Roman Kemp following in the footsteps of his father Martin by playing The Blitz Club.
His mum Shirlie looked on proudly. Despite at least three members of the group looking barely old enough to be playing on licensed premises, they were impressive with a polished danceable pop style that wholly suited the occasion.
Singer Cameron Jones has a charismatic confidence which should see PARADISE POINT fill the gap in the market for a smart boy band that actually plays their own instruments.
During the interlude to remove the stage to reveal the dancefloor proper, both Steve Strange and Rusty Egan took to the mic to thank everyone for attending. Rusty even took great delight in mentioning The Electricity Club by announcing: “These guys know more about the music I play than I do!!” Merci beaucoup Rusty!
It was quite surreal to not only be hearing the 12 inch mixes of ‘Fade To Grey’, ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’ and ‘R.E.R.B.’ in the very place that helped inspire them, but to also be in the presence of the very people that were involved in their genesis.
However, one particular highlight with a modern twist occurred when the EMP 09 dance remix of ULTRAVOX’s ‘Visions In Blue’ was warmly received by the crowd. With the essential inclusion of DAVID BOWIE’s ‘Heroes / Helden’, ‘The Model’ by KRAFTWERK, OMD’s ‘Enola Gay’, JOY DIVISION’s ‘She’s Lost Control’ and a bit of BRYAN FERRY et voila… this was the perfect combination to celebrate nearly four decades of fantastically inventive avant pop music.
Onlookers were even treated to the former Steven Harrington doing some impromptu miming over the soon-to-be released reworking of VISAGE’s ‘Frequency 7’ which now features extra lyrics borrowed from HEAVEN 17’s ‘Temptation’.
This is a song which incidentally also has Blitz Club connections as it was Rusty Egan who recommended Carol Kenyon to Messrs Marsh, Ware and Gregory when the Sheffield trio were seeking a soulful backing vocalist for their then yet-to-be completed 1983 single.
Meanwhile Princess Julia’s set was varied, ranging from the not entirely unexpected like DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ to the biggest surprise of the night, FANCY’s cult Euro hit from 1983, ‘Slice Me Nice’. The various Germans and Scandinavians, who have made the journey specially to be at this reunion tonight, were particularly appreciative!
But with the landlords The Red Rooms reverting to their usual source of income as a table dancing establishment, it was time for The Blitz Club, like Cinderella, to make its exit before midnight. The whole night was terrifically friendly with lots of great electronic pop music and many attendees got into the spirit of things by togging up as New Romantics, Peacock Punks or in the case of The Electricity Club, 1950’s German bank clerks!
The Return To The Blitz Club 2011 couldn’t have been any better. With ULTRAVOX having just signed a new recording deal with Universal Music and plans also for a new VISAGE album, the legacy of The Blitz Club is alive and well! Tonight really was a Club For Heroes!
Rusty Egan’s DJ setlist at Return To The Blitz Club 2011
THE KNIFE Pass This On
THE STOOGES I Wanna Be Your Dog
THE BLUE NILE Headlights On The Parade
THE HUMAN LEAGUE Being Boiled
TOM TOM CLUB Genius Of Love
KRAFTWERK Neon Lights
DAVID BOWIE Sound & Vision
IGGY POP Sister Midnight
KRAFTWERK Trans Europe Express
DAVID BOWIE Fashion
GINA X PERFORMANCE No GDM
SIMPLE MINDS Changeling
LIAISONS DANGEREUSES Los Ninos Del Parque
BLONDIE Heart Of Glass
ULTRAVOX Visions In Blue (EMP 09 Remix)
ABC Tears Are Not Enough
YOKO ONO Walking On Thin Ice
BRYAN FERRY Let’s Stick Together (88 Remix)
DAVID BOWIE Ashes To Ashes
DAVID BOWIE Boys Keep Swinging
SPANDAU BALLET To Cut A Long Story Short (Long Mix)
THE HUMAN LEAGUE The Sound Of The Crowd
OMD Enola Gay
SOFT CELL Tainted Love
THE CURE In Between Days
JOY DIVISION She’s Lost Control
DEPECHE MODE See You
ULTRAVOX Hiroshima Mon Amour
VISAGE Mind Of A Toy
DURAN DURAN Planet Earth (Night Version)
IGGY POP The Passenger
ASSOCIATES Club Country (12″ Version)
DAVID BOWIE Heroes/Helden
KRAFTWERK Das Modell
VISAGE Fade to Grey (Club Mix)
With special thanks to Rusty Egan
Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Richard Price
24th January 2011, updated 15th February 2015