Human League having a ball on hometown return at Sheffield City Hall

The Human League performing at Sheffield City Hall
The Human League performing at Sheffield City Hall

There is nothing quite like seeing a world-class act perform before a home crowd.

However, thousands of Sheffield music lovers got to do exactly that when The Human League brought the party to the City Hall.

The Human League performing at Sheffield City Hall

The Human League performing at Sheffield City Hall

Even before they appeared on stage the air was full of love for the band’s core members – frontman Phil Oakey and female vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley.

As the backing band – a drummer and two synth players – struck up the first few chords of Mirror Man, a big roar went up from the audience, many already on their feet.

The monochrome set provides a slick backdrop as first the girls, like goddesses in white, and then Oakey – resplendent in a sharp black designer suit and sunglasses – take to the stage.

The 80-minute set contains a string of The Human League hits dating back more than 30 years.

It’s hard to believe how old some of the tracks are – they certainly don’t sound dated.

The show begins with a couple of Human League’s better known tracks – Sound of The Crowd and The Things That Dreams are Made of.

The lyrics, tucked away in the memory, come quickly back to the fore.

Oakey tells his screaming fans how nice it is to be home before taking a pop at some of his city music rivals, telling the audience: “We play in Sheffield unlike other Sheffield groups.”

The set comprises glossy white steps against an eye-catching backdrop of busy computer generated graphics. After switching to more recent material – 2010’s Night People and 2011’s Egomaniac – Joanne and Susan leave the set for Seconds.

All three return to the stage – this time Oakey in white and the girls in black – for a trio of songs from Hysteria: The Lebanon, Life On Your Own and the lovely Louise. An anecdote about his best friend from school, who was until recently the British Ambassador in Iraq, ends with Oakey quipping: “I’m just an ambassador of Electro.”

Love Action, Tell me When and Fascination whip up the middle-aged crowd into a frenzy as the night heads towards its climax.

The venue is positively bouncing and there are blokes and women in their forties, fifties, sixties and possibly older grooving away to the tones of Oakey’s deep, rich voice – no doubt reminiscing about their younger, carefree days.

As the backing band, complete with two men on 80s synthesiser piano guitars, plays an extended intro to Don’t You Want Me? the entire audience is on its feet and singing the lyrics to the group’s greatest hit.

Unbelievably, it is 33 years old this year, but still sounds so good. The encore concludes with the feel-good hit Oakey penned with Giorgio Moroder – Together In Electric Dreams.

It might have been a cold, dark, miserable December night outside, but, inside City Hall, The Human League and their fans were having an absolute ball.

Welcome home Ambassador.