It’s thirty five years since Tainted Love hit the number one spot across the globe, and in doing so launched the illustrious career of tonight’s star, Marc Almond. Tonight is a celebration of that career and we’ve been promised a personal set of his own favourites.
The concert opens with the Leeds College of Music Contemporary Orchestra and Pop Choir offering a beautiful medley of snippets of songs from his back catalogue. Delivered in a beautiful, subtle manner, its a lovely introduction and Marc looks visibly honoured, and grateful as he makes his entrance.
Introducing the set as a trip backwards and forwards through the torch songs he fell in love with growing up, to a selection of songs he’s picked up along the way.
He explains it’s not going to be an upbeat affair. Well it is Marc Almond, and if anyone is to perform as the tortured soul, he, by his own admission, definitely fits the bill.
Opener, The Big Hurt, with Marc accompanied by the full orchestra, fills the room and lays down the foundation for tonights performance – its going to be bold, it’s going to be brassy, and it’s definitely going to be heartfelt.
Amongst the tales of unrequited love, loss and yearning, we also find an ode to marijuana, and a number of romantic Russian folk songs. Unashamedly self-indulgent, the personal significance of the songs shines through and you get the feeling that you are getting a glimpse into the soul of the singer.
Despite been surrounded by a full choir, brass ensemble and various other musicians, conductors and the like, on the more soulful numbers, Marc has the uncanny talent of making himself appear alone and detached, whilst allowing the personal importance of the song to shine through and be shared with all present.
Made a Fellow of the Leeds College of Music back in 2014, you could suggest that tonight’s ensemble and choir are Marc’s band. When we witness their full force, suggestion becomes reality and far from portraying the lost soul, Marc leads them into – and this is an understatement – a genuine big finish.
Stripped down to a shirt for the second part of the set, Marc promises to lift the mood from the previous numbers. The first half featured many songs from the soundtrack of his life, so its only fitting that the autobiographical Trials of Eyeliner is prominent in the second. Not entirely upbeat, it none the less brings us back to more familiar ground and helps pave the way for an outstaning crescendo.
Torch, is a definite highlight of the evening. As iconic as its singer, you can almost feel the pride as the brass ensemble get the opportunity to deliver one of the most distinctive use of the horns in pop musics history. Two young women immediately get out of their seats and start waltzing along, and within minutes the whole of the ground floor has joined them on their feet.
For Somethings Gotten Hold of My Heart, he may not have had Gene Pitney to accompany him, but he did have the full backing and support of the Leeds College of Music who raised the tune to truly epic proportions.
Before closing the evening with a sing-along version of The Supreme’s Baby Love, Marc name checks each and everyone who has played – musicians, the choir, the conductors, it’s a long list that only falls short by not thanking everyone of the crowd by name. It’s his way of making certain that all get their well and truly deserved recognition. They were absolutely flawless and deserve the accolade of been told they “some of the greatest musicians I’ve ever worked with” .
An icon in the truest form, he’s come a long way from the cloakroom of The Wardrobe, just down the road from tonight’s venue. It must have been one hell of a journey – thanks for sharing some of it with us Marc, it was wonderful!