Monday, 18 March 2013

Only After Dark (Heaven 17 special)

Only after dark

Last night I travelled back in time.  It was to a strange distant land that I had forgotten about for over 30 years.  Last night I attended the OAD club. (For those of you who are not yet darkling’s, OAD stands for ‘Only After Dark’, a monthly club night based on the Bowie nights and the Rum Runner/Blitz Club nights of the late 70’s and early 80’s.).
It was an eclectic mix of people in my peer group made up of punks, new wave, Goths (who in my day were called alternatives), and anyone who is just not happy to conform to being described as ‘Normal’.  Style was a key factor.  To be individual and who you are.  This had been my upbringing.  And here I was back where I had started.  I had come home!

I knew this would be a very special night, not just because of how absolutely fabulous the music and people are, but this was no ordinary night.  Oh no!  This was a Heaven 17 special.  I need to thank Lucky Al for having his 50th birthday there as he started the ball rolling to give us what was an amazing and exciting night.  And boy was lucky Al lucky!  Heaven 17 gave him a few very rare records (all signed) including one white label promo copy of Penthouse and Pavement.  (I went a suitable shade of green – Oh what I would give for a copy of that?!)  A thought ran through my mind.  We all have birthdays…can’t we do this every time someone has a birthday?  I didn’t care how impractical this was, I liked this thought!
The night was special in so many ways…Firstly there was a limited edition record for sale.  A version of The Human League’s ‘Only after Dark’ covered by Heaven 17 in numbered limited editions of only 100 copies!

Then there was a meet & greet with Glenn and Martyn.  They signed anything you asked them to and had a photo taken with you by a professional photographer (which was such a blessing as my husband got in real trouble for the very blurred photo he took at the Heaven 17 Buxton gig).  There was a big queue but Heaven 17, being two of the nicest people in the music industry added an extra meet & greet after the set for those who didn’t get the chance at the first one.
Then Martyn did a DJ set.  It was fabulous.  Everyone was dancing.  Everyone was friendly. Everyone was having a good time.  Everyone was lovely to each other.  Complete strangers complemented each other on their individual style.  Here was a place where no one judged you.  And if you ever wondered why women spend time in the ladies toilets, I was told how lovely my long and curly my hair was and how skinny my legs were! 

As the midnight hour approached, Heaven 17 performed a short set.  They started with ‘Fascist Groove Thang’.  I danced and danced.  They continued with ‘Black hit of space’, ‘Crow and a baby’ and their personal favourite, ‘Let me go’.  They did a paired down version of ‘You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling’.  With no backing singers, you could really hear Martyn’s soulful voice and how it perfectly complements Glenn’s deep vocals.  A perfect combination.
And they finished the set, not with their traditional ‘Temptation’, but with the only time they will ever perform ‘Only after dark’.  It was bitter sweet.  I totally love this track and to think you will never hear it again live makes me sad, but also so happy that I was one of the lucky ones.  I was more than lucky.  I had been there on the night they had played it for the first and last time.  I honestly cannot begin to tell you how amazing this night was.  Enough adjectives do not exist to describe it.  

For someone whose normally Saturday night often consists of being in bed by 10pm I wondered how I would last til 3am.  None of us are 20 anymore…but for some reason the music kept me going and to be honest I could have danced until 5am (shoes allowing).
The music is all late 70’s and early 80’s with a heavy helping of Bowie for good measure.  There are also TV videos showing how stylish we all were then.  I danced to tracks such as Bowie’s ‘Look back in anger’ (I don’t think I had ever heard that in a club before), ‘Sex Dwarf’ by Soft Cell and ‘Dear Prudence’ by Siouxsie and the Banshees.  For me personally, I missed the omission of Bauhaus (There should always be some Bela Lugosi!!) and Joy Division, but overall I swear I had died and gone to heaven. (well Heaven 17)…this was such a unique, special and wonderful night.

If you are from the punk/post punk generation, are a non-conformist and have a sense of style not appreciated by the masses you know what you need to do!  OAD runs monthly in Birmingham and has an active Facebook group which you can join to find out when the next one is.  

For me, I had come home and now I never want to leave!  Welcome to the darkside…darklings!

More photos can be found here:




  1. Fantastic night, Still got no voice 3 days later. But well worth it.

  2. Hi, I came over from Annie's blog to find out more about her night out and it does sound like a fantastic night. Is that you in the last picture? I can understand why you got lots of compliments in the ladies, you look stunning! xx

    1. Thank you honey, its really kind of you to say so. It is me on the night. I have since written a more recent blog about OAD with Rusty Egan. Please feel free to check it out. :)