To celebrate his 65th birthday, Marc Almond hosted an intimate performance with his friend, music producer Chris Braide, which followed a date they did together at the Royal Festival Hall in early 2020 and comes ahead of a commemorative long awaited mini album of the duo’s unreleased material – ‘Things We Lost’. The show saw them play the whole of Almond’s 2013 ‘The Velvet Trail’ solo album “down to the bare bones” – which Almond described as a milestone career marker release – and a second act featuring a mix from both of their own song catalogues.
They began their set on the album’s opening track, the dark resentment of ‘Bad To Me’, and then a while later transformed to the exotic colour of ‘Pleasure’s Wherever You Are’, showcasing the album’s many contrasts. Almond incorporated his love of pagan mythology with angry emotion in ‘Minotaur’, also performing the playful poptones of ‘Demon Lover’ and ‘When The Comet Comes’, the later sang more strongly as a duet with Braide, even if it didn’t quite work out as they had planned. They ended on the album’s title track, ‘The Velvet Trail’, which for Almond conjured up nostalgic memories of his childhood visiting the coast of Stockport and the displayed album’s British rural influences.
After the interval came the second act which saw the pair play from both their catalogues, including Soft Cell covers such as ‘Kitchen Sink Drama’, and an unexpected cover of the Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Rent’ – a song that Almond said he wished he had written. Another influence that they touched on throughout the set was Almond lifetime inspiration, Marc Bolan, whom they tributed with a cover version of Bolan’s ‘The Visit’. They also played for the first time live a new song from the forthcoming mini album, ‘Dead Stars’ – about dead famous persons who never let you down on account of their being dead – which was then also the subject of Almond’s last solo studio album track that followed, ‘Hollywood Forever’.
Almond as usual finished on two favourite Soft Cell numbers, ‘Torch’ and ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’, which after a scattering of petals saw him handing out red roses to the audience, who then sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him.
08/07/22: Marc Almond + Chris Braide @ Cadogan Hall, London.
Photos © Ayisha Khan.
© Ayisha Khan.