T’Pau – Live Review – Wakefield Warehouse 23
By @Steve Crabtree, July 2017
When a well-known band, who sang one of the most memorable songs of your childhood come to town, it’s a no-brainer that you try and snap up a ticket and go along to see them. Nostalgia plays a big part in many people’s lives, and with me it’s one of my favourite things. So when T’Pau are play at Warehouse 23 in Wakefield, I have to go along.
It’s a dark, intimate venue. Much smaller than I imagined, but there’s lots of space around; and the bar is nice and big, and easy to get to. We take up a nice spot on a raised platform on the right as you look at the stage, and we have a great view.
On stage, we’re being warmed up by up-and-coming Welsh singer-songwriter John Adams, who’s entertaining the growing audience with upbeat songs in an acoustic format. In a sign of things to come, he’s turned up loud, and people have a choice of watching and listening to him, or shouting conversation to their friends. From a glance round the room, the majority are doing the former and are treated to a bit of well received banter too.
We approach 9:30pm, and the lights go out as T’Pau enter the stage. The band begin rocking and the crowd respond as Carol Decker struts on to the stage with all the energy and presence of an iconic rock star in her twenties. You can’t mistake the flame red hair and she’s still got it… the few-hundred-audience cheer, roar and applaud as she launches in to a powerful version of ‘Sex Talk’ to kick off the fifteen-song set.
“Feel the energy in the room”
And powerful it is, setting the tone for the night, and there was no way that T’Pau are just going through the motions of nostalgia here – they’ve come to rock.
It’s their second attempt in two years to play at Warehouse 23, after lead singer Carol Decker had to cancel their 2015 booking due to coming down with an infection, followed by a fractured ankle. Unfortunately, Ronnie Rogers couldn’t make this one though, much to his disappointment and Decker issues his apologies to the crowd.
It’s a mixture of a crowd too. We’ve got the obvious die-hards in new and old T’Pau t-shirts who’ve been at the front since the doors opened, we’ve got young, old, some here because they like ‘China In Your Hand’, and some who have bought every album and know all the words. To accommodate us all, Decker is introducing us all to each song nicely. She’s got a good bit of patter about her, and nicely brags about the positions each song got to in the chart, which albums went quadruple platinum, and what made her feel like Elvis for five minutes when they cracked the American chart.
“Still producing quality music”
As we’re treated to hits such as ‘Secret Garden’ and ‘Valentine’ – songs you may have forgotten but will recognise if you were listening to music in 1987 – T’Pau are giving a robust, rocky performance. But I can’t help thinking that something isn’t quite right, and I’m leaning towards the thought that the venue is not quite right for them. As lovely as it is, and at risk of sounding old and crusty (I think I was part of the younger demographic in the audience!) I am finding the brilliant arrangement of songs like ‘Heart and Soul’ difficult to hear properly.
Decker has a great voice, but the rest of the band are swallowing it up. I can’t put my finger on whether or not it was the sound system, the volume level on the night, or the acoustics in Warehouse 23 that is responsible for that. Or a combo all three. But it is taking something away from the night.
In and amongst the hits, a few newer tunes from the 2015 album Pleasure and Pain receive an airing . It makes a statement that T’Pau are still producing quality music, and not just relying on a back catalogue of hits from yesteryear. They treat us to ‘Read My Mind’ and ‘Show Me The Way’, and we’ve already had ‘Bridge Of Spies’ before leaving the stage to applause and foot stomping. We want an encore, and we want THAT song!
“Some timeless classics”
And not to disappoint, T’Pau return to the stage and end their encore with ‘China In Your Hand’. The stage mellowing somewhat, and the audience appreciating what a masterpiece this song is. And Decker’s vocal is as perfect as it was 30 years ago, when they hit number one with this tune for five weeks.
It was a good night. If you could pick the performance up and place it in a larger venue your ears may have savoured what was going on in front of you a little bit more. Or maybe T’Pau were a full-on rock band back in the 80s, whose fans expect a loud, raucous mix of grinding guitars and perhaps the vocals don’t matter so much. But I’m not sure that’s the case.
That’s just me. There are plenty of others around me who are in their element, and can’t get enough. Dancing away, singing every lyric, punching the air to every beat.
T’pau are great. They’ve produced some timeless classics which will always get airplay. I’m pleased that I had the chance to see them.