Review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown.
Pictures courtesy of Georgie Gibbons.

Tonight at the Symphony Hall we find a vocalist right at the top of her game, making exactly the adventurous electronic pop music she wants to at this moment in time, with her voice and songwriting intense, poetic and thought provoking.  She may have been one of the biggest vocalists of 1980’s electronica but with time, this vocalist, has just got better and better. Welcome to Birmingham, the truly stunning performer that is Alison Moyet.

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This year she has released ‘Other’, following on from 2013’s ‘The Minutes.’  She explains: “For me, making a record at this age, lyrically, is a different proposition. Observation in most cases replaces emotion. The invisibility of middle/aged woman rather thrills me and instead I watch”, explains Moyet.

“Subject matter covers what you might expect from a pop album. Dyslexia, locked-out syndrome, diversity, Persephone, doggedness and the Internet. Always asked what a song is about, I attempted to cooperate, but in truth though the lyrics incorporated my best attempt to describe what I see and of the meaning that is mine. I want, who chooses to, to find their own landscape or indeed none. Some of us have always felt ‘Other’. I no longer wish it were otherwise.”

Support from tonight comes from Hannah Peel, an adventurous composer, musician and vocalist, with ethereal singing not far from The Cocteau Twin’s Elizabeth Fraser. One of her unique musical takes is singing along to a hurdy-gurdy music box, the paper strip to operate the instrument all cut by hand. She’s atmospheric and moody, experimental and surreal. Someone tweeted her and described her as a Swiss Army knife musician”, which she kinda likes. Check her out on the rest of the tour and on her website...

We we lucky enough to cover  Ms Moyet in 2013; and it was one of THE gigs of that year.  Alison Moyet was one half of the legendary Yazoo, the duo forming after Vince Clarke walked from a little known band called Depeche Mode after just one album. Moyet was just 21 when she gained the dizzying success with Yazoo – a band who became legends in their own right, albeit all far too short-lived – and went on to release her first triple platinum solo album ‘Alf’ at just 23. Throughout the 80‘s she was one of the biggest female solo stars in the UK and gained awards and plaudits including a Grammy Nominations and inspired a soulful generation. Latterly she’s continued to record, acted, took to the West End stage in Chicago and toured in 2008 with a reformed Yazoo. Electronica is where it all began – and in 2017, she is embracing it in all it’s glory.

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The set is dark, and dry ice rising, and onto a spoken word interlude, silhouetted Moyet and her electronic wizards start off  ‘I Germinate’; powerful and haunting.  Moyet, as always is chatty and engaging, although she tells us that her “mouth’s not working…” and she struggles to say what she thinks. That is definitely not the case as she sings, ‘Wishing You Were Here’ shows her true vocal power and mesmerizing vocals, in a venue that seems like it is especially built for this moment. To a song written over 40 years ago, when she was just 16, (and something time-wise she’s not embarrassed by), to a massive cheer: ‘Nobody’s Diary.’  ‘Ski’ is about telling your kids just how shit the world can be. A tribute to her mother who she lost from the devastating disease that is Alzheimer’s. He mother was in control of two things, her children and the English language, which as Moyet has dyslexia, always through her mother thought of her lyrics as an act of violence. Dementia is difficult to talk about – but it’s important we do – the track ‘The English U.’

Yazoo’s ‘Only You’ is stunning; and received to massive applause. ‘Beautiful Gun’ – about the American love romance with a weapon we can’t understand, is chunky and powerful, with electronic riff similar to Depeche Mode’s ‘Route 66.’  One of her hits from 1984’s ‘Alf’ – “all Cried Out.’ wow. Powerful. The smokey ballad ‘The Man In The Wings’ is the “romantic connection” and artist has with her audience.

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She’s always felt like an outsider, apart from a world, separate – and older and wiser – she now understands. And this is for those who feel the same. The beautiful ‘Other.’  A few years ago she had a clear out. The kids had left (she’s now a grandmother), she moved house and downsized to Brighton, where she feels totally at home. She loves diverse community, the tolerance of acceptance.  ‘The Rarest Birds’ is all about that.  And set complete with ‘Alive.’ Powerful and incredible.

Quick break and the set completed with a quartet of hits; ‘Whispering Your Name’, her vocals and the guys on guitars, ‘Situation’, ‘Love Resurrection’ and ‘Don’t Go.’

Wow. Alison Moyet  was just truly stunning tonight. A great venue which celebrates her amazing vocals,  stunning and moody light display, and humility and humanity. There is a few dates left: Go. Right now. Get tickets. Alison Moyet is NOT to be missed.


Setlist:
I Germinate
When I Was Your Girl
Wishing You Were Here
Nobody’s Diary
Ski
The English U
Only You
Beautiful Gun
Changeling
All Cried Out
The Man In The Wings
Other
The Rarest Birds
Alive

Encore:
Whispering Your Name
Situation
Love Resurrection
Don’t Go

Listening:
Yazoo:
Upstairs at Erics [1982]
You and Me both [1983]

Solo:
Alf [1984]
Raindancing [1987]
The Minutes [2013]
Other [2017]

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