Marc Almond @ Shepherd's Bush Empire

Time-defying melodrama and Birthday aura


Watching Marc Almond sing Sandboy at soundcheck, I already get goose-bumps. I turn to the younger crowd working with me, do they feel the same?
They hate it, apparently.
 Relaxed, casual and smiley, the pre-show Almond seems sweet and accessible. He laughs with the handful of people that have entered the show early and clap at his efforts for good sound.
Last time I saw him on stage, a few years ago, it was on his first live show after a life-threatening motorbike accident. He looked weak still and seriously moved (how could he not be?). His almost broken singing image, after months of feeling he`d never again come up on stage and do what he loves most, has haunted me for years. I can't imagine how it had haunted him.
This Marc though, today on his 55th birthday, is a different man. Motorbike hell and comma horrors behind, Almond seems happy and ready to party. He consumes the stage with his seven-piece - three girls on horns, two on the backing vocals, his faithful keyboardist among others and a sea of romantic stars glittering in the backdrop.
"Hell yeah!", he cheers with the crowd.
From dancefloor king to master of pop melodrama, Almond manifests a lavish theatricality. There`s a lot of jolly B-day rhythms here: The Northern Soul medley, Jacky, What, Hot Love, Tainted Love (they don't always sound jolly, but they are!). A beautiful Waifs And Strays and a Happy Birthday sing-a-long. But it's, again, the lovelorn, tortured melodies like Sandboy that grab and twist me.
I'm genuinely happy to see him back in full form. And I'm genuinely happy to get lost in a splash of confetti, near the end of the show. But I, personally, thrive in sonic misery.
 Marc, your aura...

 Review by Danai Molocha

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