- September 17, 2013
Visage, the ’80s synth legends, are back!
From the ashes of The Rich Kids, this seminal new romantic band were formed by Steve Strange (still a member) and Rusty Egan while hosting club nights at the equally seminal Blitz Club in ’78. Best known for their, yep you guessed it, seminal hit ‘Fade to Grey’, the band featured a veritable who’s who of musical icons from the era.
Midge Ure, who later found glory with Ultravox (and Band Aid), was an original member, as were three-quarters of Magazine (Barry Adamson, John McGeough and Dave Formula), one of the post-punk greats. And then there was Billy Currie, the Ultravox keyboardist.
Legend has it producer Martin Rushent heard the band at Blitz and produced their early work, their first single ‘Tar’ failing to chart. When ‘Fade to Grey’ was finally released in early 1981 it became a big international hit, helped along by the memorable promotional video, directed by pioneers in that field Godley and Creme (former members of 10cc) that accompanied the track.
They also directed the video for the follow up single ‘Mind of A Toy’, while the third and last hit from the album was the track ‘Visage’. Second album, The Anvil – named after a gay New York nightclub – was an even bigger success than the debut, yielding further hits in the shape of ‘The Damned Don’t Cry’ and ‘Night Train’.
But that was pretty much the end of their glory days; Midge Ure (along with Billy Currie) left soon after to join Ultravox and achieve outright fame himself, while Adamson and Formula continued to play with Magazine; McGeough, also a member of Magazine, had already left that band to join Siouxie And The Banshees.
Strange and Egan soldiered on, but 1984’s Beat Boy album only made it to 79 in the album charts. Visage, like many of their contemporaries, was a studio-only band, but a late stab at live gigging failed to revive their fortunes and the band dissolved in 1985.
Following battles with heroin addiction, Strange joined the Here and Now 80s revival tour in 2002, and slowly but surely set about re-establishing Visage, culminating in the release of their first album for nearly 30 years, Hearts and Knives, earlier this year.
Style and fashion has always been as important as the music as far as Steve Strange and Visage are concerned; the narcissistic undertones and flight from reality that new romanticism embodied (David Bowie’s ‘Ashes To Ashes’ period was heavily influenced by the Strange’s style and fashion) is alive and well, but the band have reverted to the sound that made them so distinct in the early ‘80s, staying faithful to the analogue and vintage synths that played a big part in their success.
Get your make up at the ready!?
The Haunt, Saturday 21 September, £15