The 80s – a much maligned decade for music but dig deep and there was plenty to enjoy. I’m a fan of my office’s occasional “Power Ballad Thursdays”. Instead of a sea of hunched computer nerds nodding along to their own private world via their headphones, we’re all sharing the moment as Africa by Toto and Urgent by Foreigner blast out over the speakers. There’s also a frisson of satisfaction if you can be the one to unearth a tune everyone else has forgotten. Gloria by Laura Branigan is my current fave 80s pick. But before I digress further… there was a lot more going on in that scrunchie and pirate-pant filled decade. One reminder was Blue Zoo who played last week at 02 Academy 2, Islington. The band originally formed in 1980, and although success was coming their way, they split up in 1985. They reformed in 2010, with their album Two by Two rereleased in 2013.
As in their former days, Blue Zoo’s front man and vocalist is still the charismatic Andy O. I remember him from his days with forerunner outfit, Modern Jazz (with Dave Wolfson on keyboards). The years have been good to Andy, he’s remained lean and youthful looking, still able to project a formidable vocal range with the occasional yelps which remind me of Suede’s Brett Anderson. In another life, Andy could equally be at home in musical theatre with his intuitive sense of the dramatic. The newest member of the band is Tom E Morrison, a veteran of the music industry as producer, writer and guitarist, and he also performs with Bliss. With his moody Robert Smith style makeup and on-stage swagger, Tom steals – or shares – some of Andy’s limelight.
The band play numbers from album Two by Two, and the single Ivory Towers. A highlight is the ballad Love Moves in Strange Ways. It’s a hypnotic number, and was a perfect song in its time for moments of teenage love angst. The song still manages to exert a strange power.
“This distraction, turns me sideways..”, yes, it’s time for the finale, Japan-esque powerful hit single Cry Boy Cry, which gets the entire audience joining in with the chorus. Blue Zoo were a band who disappeared before their time, so it’s good to see them back together again.
THE SMALL PRINT
WHO: Blue Zoo plus The Plexiphones
WHEN: April 4, 2014
WHERE: O2 Academy 2 Islington London
TICKETS: £12 approx