Blancmange

Audio, Glasgow

Four stars

In an era of reunions where it seems everyone and his granny from the 80s and 90s have recognised their fans have now the disposable income to exploit, the resurfacing of Blancmange is an odd one.

The electronic duo which has now essentially become the solo project of founder member Neil Arthur due to the ill health of partner Stephen Luscombe - 63 on Sunday - were renowned for their quirky mix of ecstatic pop and surrealism but were seen by some as the also-rans alongside other duos from the early days of synthpop such as Soft Cell, Sparks, Pet Shop Boys, Yazoo, Eurythmics and OMD.

Their geeky persona clashed with the pretty boy looks of most of their contemporaries, they experimented with Indian instrumentation, and became renowned for oblique lines such as "here comes a love song, there goes a banister".

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While OMD will play the 2500-capacity Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in three weeks, the hugely underrated Blancmange are consigned to a far more bijou room that holds a maximum of 150.

That outsider-dom that refused to conform in the early 80s pervades this set to a packed house clearly gagging for those exhilirating hits but getting something far more edgy.

In Glasgow and earlier Edinburgh to promote the new album Unfurnished Rooms it is a given that the band will play many of these new songs.

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So the faithful are treated in the majority to new stuff - which demonstrates a far darker, atmospheric side to Arthur and co than their early 80s heyday may have hinted at.

We Are The Chemicals, Anna Dine and What's The Time are captivating highlights from this trawl through the now 59-year-old musical head of Arthur.

The fact he dusts off Running Thin an old, sublimely murky b-side that was only ever recorded for a BBC radio session and was considered "too dark door" for the record company at the time, shows Arthur's singularity of purpose, even if it is not populist.

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By contrast, Arthur's on-stage persona is happy-go-lucky - he plays plectrum football at one point with the band - although his attire of dark suit with bright white trainers unknowingly fits the Blancmange enigma. They are late, though, by up to half-an-hour, apparently caused by a crash on a nearby road and Arthur adds a moment of seriousness saying he hopes all involved is okay to a predictable round of applause.

The more uptempo turn-back-the-clock finale, belated though it is, prompts an explosion amongst the patient faithful and offers a chance to dance.

Living on the Ceiling, their biggest hit, with its timeless sitar mantra, possesses the crowd, who croon the musical punchline repeatedly for minutes after the band have stopped, causes the guitarist to sit down on stage, Arthur to beam and delay proceedings even further.

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The rapture for the final two big hits Blind Vision and Don't Tell Me reveals just what the audience want to hear and the fact one of their best songs What's Your Problem remains off-limits is mystifying.

Arthur leaves the stage, completes an obligatory all-in-it-together bow with his two bandmates, thanks Glasgow and ruminates over what he described as the longest version of Living on the Ceiling he has witnessed as the crowd rush for the final train home.

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Then and now: Neil Arthur, frontman of Blancmange