Following his orchestrated covers of 80s classics, Trevor Horn takes the show on the road, stopping off at London Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall.
When it comes to super-producers, few have had the impact of Trevor Horn. From the beginning of his career in the late 70s as a member of The Buggles (Video Killed The Radio Star), to work with Yes (Owner Of A Lonely Heart), and production/songwriting credits on some of the most iconic sounds of the ‘80s: Relax, The Look Of Love, Left To My Own Devices… In more recent years he’s put his unique polish on tracks from artists including t.A.T.u. and Robbie Williams.
The focus of this tour, however, is last year’s album — Trevor Horn Reimagines The 80s — which saw him adding orchestration to the tracks he didn’t work on from the decade, with special guests taking vocal duties. All Saints pop up on Girls On Film. Old friend Robbie takes the lead on Everybody Wants To Rule The World. Matt Cardle and Marillion’s Steve Hogarth also appear, and they’re just some of the guests appearing on stage tonight.
But guests aside, the band are already something of a supergroup, with Lol Creme (10CC, Art Of Noise with Horn and Anne Dudley), Phil Palmer (guitarist and nephew of The Kinks’ Ray and Dave Davies, who played the original guitar solo on Everybody Wants To Rule The World), Alan Clarke (Dire Straits’ keyboardist) and Steve Ferrone (drummer who’s toured and recorded with Bee Gees and George Harrison to name but a few…). And with nods to all of their previous projects, this evening is as much of a celebration of everyone on stage as it is Trevor Horn.
Matt Cardle joins to open the evening with Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Two Tribes, instantly reminding why his incredible vocal range saw him taking The X Factor crown back in 2010. He also takes Holly Johnson’s place on Relax and The Power Of Love (the orchestra transforming it into a Bond theme), as well as delivering Slave To The Rhythm and iconic ballad I’m Not In Love — with Lol Creme switching from guitar to keyboard. Horn introduces the song by saying “as a production it hasn’t been bettered”. Lol even takes vocals for Rubber Bullets — demonstrating how this evening really does cross the genres, from elaborate synth-pop anthems to glam-rock bomp. But while variety can be the spice of life, it can also be difficult to stomach.
Steve Hogarth adds his angst-filled vocal flair to Kiss From A Rose (with a “R’n’B meets Henry VIII” sound according to Horn) and Ashes To Ashes, the pinnacle of what this evening is about: timeless pop/rock, dramatic orchestration and a celebration of Trevor Horn’s ear for detail. While the rest of the guests are impressive names — with Russ Ballard performing his hits Since You’ve Been Gone and God Gave Rock and Roll To You, and former Simple Minds’ member Michael MacNeil joined by percussionist Danny Cummings taking vocals on a couple of tracks — they seem misplaced alongside the ‘80s orchestra and ‘80s Horn-produced numbers.
And with singers Roberto Angrisani (dressed in silver and bringing the glitz of the glitz to the evening), Kate Holmes & Izzy Chase (who perform All The Things She Said, teasing a kiss at the end), the vocals are already in fantastic hands.
There are very few gigs you can attend where X Factor winners share the final bow with members of iconic prog-rock bands after singing 80s synth pop covers accompanied with string sections, but Trevor Horn really is the man who reimagined music production — and when the show focuses on that it’s the ultimate celebration.