I'm just back from the Shepherd's Bush Empire and the Trevor Horn Band show. Some initial thoughts...
Support was from Will Heard, a young man on vocals and electric guitar. Clearly rather nervous, he played 4 or so songs. Good voice, OK material, including an interesting if not entirely successful electric/punk version of The Carpenters' "Close to You".
The main set began with an exhilarating "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" (originally by Frankie Goes to Hollywood), appropriate as the band would go on to play twice as many numbers from the album of the same name as any other. Then they were straight into The Buggles' "Living in the Plastic Age".
A fine beginning... and then Seal walked on stage and the audience cheered, but sadly Seal was only there to explain that, for only the second time in a 26-year career, he has had to withdraw from the performance due to a recent bout of flu. After effusive praise for Horn, he was off and it was on with the show. Kate Westall came to the front of the stage for a sultry "Slave to the Rhythm" (originally by Grace Jones). Then with Lol Crème joking about tartan skirts, Westall and Kirsten Joy did a rousing "All the Things She Said" (originally by t.A.T.u.), followed by Crème singing 10cc's "Rubber Bullets".
Horn then introduced Gabrielle Aplin, who did her version of Frankie's "The Power of Love". This arrangement was mostly just Aplin on vocals and (synth) piano, with the band joining in later on to boost the power of the song. Aplin stayed to sing Annie Lennox's "Why", originally produced by Stephen Lipson. A great vocal performance from Aplin.
More Frankie with the band's instrumental version of "Two Tribes". Horn then announced a Yes song would be next, but that he wouldn't be singing it. He jokingly explained that we needed to summon the spirit of Jon Anderson, which led to a few bars of "Soon", sung by Westall, as an intro to "Owner of a Lonely Heart", sung by Jamie Squire (no relation). As in the band's Japanese TV performance, the guitar solo was replaced by a keyboard solo, although Downes was mixed too low, at least where I was standing, to hear this well.
Horn next explained how his partner, Mel, had played him this song and he had fallen in love with it. Mr Probz, the song's performer, was, if I heard right, now working on Seal's album and had come over from the Netherlands to sing "Waves". Then we had another guest, an uptempo, bravura performance by Ella Eyre of "Gravity" (originally by DJ Fresh feat. Eyre).
With jokes about his piano playing, Crème came forward to play keys for "I'm Not in Love", with Squire on lead vocals. Horn explained that they had then planned to perform a set of Seal songs, but without Seal, they just did "Prayer for the Dying", with Squire again on lead vocals.
The main set finished with a great performance of "Video Killed the Radio Star" (including a short insert using the rap from will.i.am and Nicki Minaj's "Check It Out", which sample "Video..."), complete with big finale, then into "Relax", again with Squire singing.
The band encored with "Leave Right Now" (originally by Will Young and produced by Lipson) with Squire on lead vocals.
The band were... from stage right at the back: Kirsten Joy (lead & backing vocals), Kate Westall (lead & backing vocals), Jamie Squire (lead & backing vocals, percussion), Ash Soan (drums) and Luis Jardim (percussion), with 18-year old Simon Bloor (keys, guitar) behind Jardim. At the front, from stage right, was Geoff Downes (keys), Lol Crème (guitar, backing vocals, keys), Trevor Horn (bass), Stephen Lipson (guitar), Julian Hinton (keys) and Phil Palmer (electric & acoustic guitar).
I'm blessed, I saw a lot of the early Producers shows in Camden, so some of this set is becoming very familiar. I'd like to hear some different 10cc songs and I could lose "Two Tribes", but the other Welcome to the Pleasuredome songs were great. The band suffered the late loss of Seal, but Squire did a good job. Aplin and Eyre shone as guests. Soan was fantastic on drums, particularly good on "Owner of a Lonely Heart". The band was quite large, with four guitar players at times. I've no idea what Bloor was doing and Palmer seemed superfluous.
This was basically the same band with much the same set as when they were called Producers. Is the name change just about increasing sales? Despite Horn's name being out front, the other principals were still well represented: we had 5 songs associated with Horn (2 Buggles, 1 t.A.T.u., 1 Seal; although we would have had more Seal), 5 associated with Horn and Lipson (4 Frankie, 1 Grace Jones), 2 associated with Lipson, 2 10cc numbers for Crème, and 2 covers.
Highlights: "Welcome to the Pleasuredome", "All the Things She Said", "The Power of Love", "Gravity", "Video Killed the Radio Star"
Disappointing: "Waves", "Prayer for the Dying", "Rubber Bullets"