Riding on the strength of his two Number One albums, British heartthrob rocks Germany.
As far as chart success goes, not a lot of artists could fly as high as Paul Young did in the mid-’80s when he graced the Essen stage to give an ecstatic crowd the essence of “No Parlez” and “The Secret Of Association” – the singer’s first two records, the former still hanging in the UK Top 100 then and the latter released less than a week prior to the Rockpalast night. A fantastic concert by all means, its performances may feel a tad dated in terms of arrangements, yet those were attuned to its times, which this CD and DVD package captures just perfectly.
On the surface, Paul exceled in pop, but soulful rawness won’t take long to rear its head from behind the nicely choreographed veneer of the show where Young busts smooth, athletic moves in front of a black vocal trio and the white band to keep punters on their toes from the blues-cum-raga lick and infectious beat of “Tomb Of Memories” – one of his three originals in the set – onward. While the artist’s emotionality makes “Love Will Tear Us Apart” burst out of the gloom and whip the audience into a frenzy, the irresistibly stinging swagger of “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down” gives instrumentalists solo spots to shine on – to the point so. The same can’t be said of the superficial plastic funk feeding the endless wigouts “Sex” and “Oh Women” – replete with slide guitar, carnival percussion and the Paul’s jazzy scat – which remain relics of their era, despite the dance routine and microphone stand windmill, because, for all his trying, Young would never become a James Brown clone.
An on-stage action enlivens the gloss of “Bite The Hand That Feeds” so that bombastic ivories can’t diminish its sharpness, and “Come Back And Stay” reveals an effervescent, if serious, punch, yet the majestic a cappella of “Cupid” provides a nice contrast to the ensemble’s occasional onslaught. Still, with Pino Palladino’s four strings laying the groove to “Love Of The Common People” whose warm and vibrant rocksteady surfs new wave and goes way beyond a visual revue, where the singers skank, “Everytime You Go Away” – where John Turnbull’s sitar sounds are much more moving and prominent than on a studio version – further deepens the concert’s romantic scope. Kneeling and keeping on intoning, Young has the fans in his grip even before the laser-enhanced balladry of “Broken Man” and “Everything Must Change” add another dimension to the show and let “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)” form a profound finale for these performances.
It was a peak of his career – much more impressive than his “Live Aid” spot, and there’s no better document of Paul’s heyday.