Review: 80s Classical in Millennium Square, Leeds

Jimmy Sommerville at the 80s Classical concert in Millennium Square, Leeds. Picture: Sarah Zagni
Jimmy Sommerville at the 80s Classical concert in Millennium Square, Leeds. Picture: Sarah Zagni
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Millennium Square saw the unique combination of classical music meeting classic pop, on Friday evening.

Five of Britain’s biggest 80s acts took to the stage, accompanied by Opera North’s full 60-piece orchestra, to belt out their biggest hits to a 4,000-strong crowd.

Nik Kershaw at the 80s Classical concert in Millennium Square, Leeds. Picture: Sarah Zagni

Nik Kershaw at the 80s Classical concert in Millennium Square, Leeds. Picture: Sarah Zagni

After over an hour-long DJ set, which set the nostalgic tone beautifully by blasting out all the classic hits of the decade, the orchestra finally took to the stage at 8:15pm. Delighting the audience of Generation X-ers with various covers of their favourite 80s bangers, Opera North’s note-perfect interpretations got the crowd appropriately hyped up for the first act.

Without a fanfare, T’Pau frontwoman Carol Decker was the first artist to grace the outdoor stage. Immediately getting the crowd’s hands in the air, she kicked off the night with her band’s debut single, the top-five ballad Heart and Soul.

Passing the baton to Johnny Hates Jazz, Clark Datchler’s flawless performance of I Don’t Want to Be a Hero set the clock back to 1987. This was followed by the appropriately nostalgic titled Turn Back the Clock.

Despite the cheers and applause, a good 50 per cent of the crowd were more interested in grabbing a beer and having a chat through the first couple of acts. This all changed when Nik Kershaw rocked the stage up with the title track from his debut album, Human Racing. However, even he failed to keep his grip when he changed the mood to a slow ballad.

Howard Jones at the 80s Classical concert in Millennium Square, Leeds. Picture: Sarah Zagni

Howard Jones at the 80s Classical concert in Millennium Square, Leeds. Picture: Sarah Zagni

But, with Howard Jones reminding the crowd Things Can Only Get Better, even the rain shower couldn’t dampen the renewed spirit of the audience. Jones’ charisma and groove-infused songs made Millennium Square more reminiscent of a nightclub in Miami – substituting pina coladas for Heineken.

The biggest cheers were saved for Jimmy Somerville who, despite only having four songs, held the spectators captivated. His dance moves were hypnotic and his signature soprano voice has most certainly stood the test of time.

Carol Decker returned after an interval to leave the square spellbound with a pitch-perfect performance of the smash hit, China in Your Hand. From then on, the merriment continued for the next 45 minutes, with the revolving acts returning to delight the crowd with hit after hit.

As the second half commenced, so did the deluge of rain. But even the typical British summer wasn’t enough to dampen the spirits of this event. Perfect festival fun.

Carol Decker at the 80s Classical concert in Millennium Square, Leeds. Picture: Sarah Zagni

Carol Decker at the 80s Classical concert in Millennium Square, Leeds. Picture: Sarah Zagni

Johnny Hates Jazz at the 80s Classical concert in Millennium Square, Leeds. Picture: Sarah Zagni

Johnny Hates Jazz at the 80s Classical concert in Millennium Square, Leeds. Picture: Sarah Zagni

The audience at the 80s Classical concert in Millennium Square, Leeds. Picture: Sarah Zagni

The audience at the 80s Classical concert in Millennium Square, Leeds. Picture: Sarah Zagni