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Friday, 16 March, 2001, 13:42 GMT
Soft Cell return to the stage
Dave Ball and Marc Almond
Dave Ball and Marc Almond on stage at Ocean
By BBC News Online's Ian Youngs

Eighties chart toppers Soft Cell played their first gig for 17 years last week to launch London's newest music venue - and picked up where they left off.

The duo were best known for their sleazy electronic pop music and had a worldwide hit with Tainted Love in 1981 but split up in 1984.

And on stage at Ocean, Hackney, East London, Marc Almond and Dave Ball turned back time in front of an audience of music industry members.

Vocalist Almond was as flamboyant and extravagant as he was in the band's heyday wearing a glittery black vest plus a belt with silver strands dangling from it.

Marc Almond
Almond: Tainted Love sung for him by the crowd
Ball, on the other hand, looked content to stand behind his bank of synthesisers and left his partner to the pacing and posturing.

The pair looked glad to be back and relations had obviously thawed - even if it did take 17 years to happen.

They played all the hits, plus several new songs which Almond said would be released in the future but he did not know when.

The high point was their best known and best loved song, Tainted Love, during much of which Almond did not need to sing as the crowd was singing so loudly.

The duo split up after scoring six UK top 20 hits and went on to work as solo artists and with other groups.

Soft Cell hits
Tainted Love - No 1, Aug 81
Bed Sitter - No 4, Nov 81
Say Hello Wave Goodbye - No 3, Feb 82
Torch - No 2, May 82
What - No 3, Aug 82

Hits

Thursday's gig was the first of three to mark the opening of the new venue.

Concerts on Friday and Saturday have already sold out.

The group were among a clutch of early 80s bands - including Culture Club, Adam and the Ants and Frankie Goes To Hollywood - known for injecting strong personality and occasionally sexual ambiguity into the charts.

After splitting up, Almond went on to have solo success with songs including The Days of Pearly Spencer, Jacky and Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart, a duet with Gene Pitney.

He went on a solo world tour in 1999.

Ball formed dance music act The Grid, who had a number three hit in 1994 with Swamp Thing.

Built in a converted Methodist hall, the Ocean has been described as the most state-of-the-art concert venue in the UK, with 23m spent on converting it.

It also incorporates a lottery-funded music education and community projects along with three performance spaces.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Suggs talks to BBC News Online's Ian Youngs
Ocean is "the best venue in London for live music".
See also:

03 Aug 98 | Entertainment
Let's hear it once again for the Eighties
26 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Kylie to lead gay festival
02 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Abba 'snub' $1bn comeback
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