Liverpool Sound City – Human League + Art of Noise + A Certain Ratio
Thursday 25th May 2017
@ Clarence Dock, Liverpool

The 10th Liverpool Sound City got off to a flying start, with excellent weather and a happy vibe.

Tonight’s three bands were all from the 1980s, each of them accessible whilst also appealing to the discerning music lover.

Of course the Manchester bomb was only 3 days ago, so it obviously loomed large in many people’s minds, therefore it was reassuring to see armed police officers looking out for anything untoward, and fantastic to see people getting on with their lives.

Before the headliner, there was a minutes silence to remember the victims.  Sadly, 1 person decided to heckle, there’s always one!  Once the minute’s silence was over, security promptly ejected him, and quite right too.


I once spoke to Martin Moscrop from the band about the possibly of them playing at a gig I was putting together.  He said that they went down well  everywhere, aside from Liverpool.  I asked if it was the famous scouse/manc rivalry and he just laughed.

Obviously the lineup was put together long before Monday’s events, but it was fitting that a Mancunian band should open the festival.

ACR formed in 1977 and signed to Tony Wilson’s Factory Records in 1979.

They never achieved massive chart success, but as a fan that can be a good thing as their music doesn’t get played to death on radio and used on adverts all the time, meaning their music still sounds fresh.

Their 30 minute set of back catalogue favourites such as Shack-Up passed much too quickly, and left us wanting more.


Art of Noise were way ahead of their time, pushing synth and sampler technology to it’s limits.

I absolutely loved Close to the Edit when it was released, it sounded so different to anything else at the time.

I wondered whether all these years later it would still sound fresh, or simply be pure nostalgia.  On balance I’d say it still sounded fresh – you don’t hear their music very often these days, and it’s easy to forget how many hits they had.

The only slight disappointment was that Max Headroom didn’t make a guest appearance 😉 We had to make do with a projection.

They finished their set, unsurprisingly, with Close to the Edit and Peter Gun – much to the audience’s delight.


The Human League of course need no introduction.  They were popular both with Music obsessives and Chart fans alike, the only people who didn’t like them were people who didn’t feel synth’s were “proper music”.

They played a crowd-pleasing set of their hits, which still sound as fresh today as they did back in the 80s.  The audience loved it, and importantly, Phil, Susan and Joanne seemed to be enjoying themselves too!

90 minutes of hit after hit inevitably passed too soon, but it was a fantastic start to this year’s Sound City!


Originally published in Urbanista Magazine UK
Words + Pictures by John W. King