Welcome To The Pleasuredome – Holly Johnson Live

It was late 1984 and I had just turned 11. Having started my musical journey by buying the odd ex-jukebox seven inch singles at the start of the decade, mainly Boney M for my sins I then progressed onto the world of proper singles and “Wings of a dove” by Madness is an early single I bought that springs to mind. Then it was onto the wide world of the twelve inch single. I was in HMV in Lord Street Liverpool looking admiringly at an American twelve inch import of “Relax” by Frankie Goest To Hollywood (FGTH) It was about £7 and far in excess of my pocket money. I would just have to put up with the seven inch single I owned. Then a lady came up to me and said would you like this. I hastily abandoned all I had been taught and decided to speak to this stranger. She was a rep working for HMV. She lead me to the counter and I got the record for free. I still have it to this day and written on the front of it in what clearly looks like an 11 year old style writing is “The best ever record made” (On the left of picture below) 30 years later and having listened to a lot of music that grandiose statement might be a bit over the top but it is still a mighty fine record and one that would be found towards the top of my all time list. Anyway it was on another trip to town and this time I must have been behaving good as my mum again took me into Liverpool city centre and bought me the new double album by FGTH entitled “Welcome To The Pleasuredome”  Frankie were the first band that I had an affection for. On the walls of my bedroom were numerous posters blutacked up from the magazines “Smash Hits” and “No1” this included many of FGTH and as an 11 year old and all that puberty entails my rather old fashioned dad must quite frankly been having kittens as pictures of leather clad gay macho clones started appearing with regularity on my bedroom wall. I remember the first play and thinking what was this ? It started with an around 14 minute first track Welcome To The Pleasuredome. I had never heard anything like it and much to the production of the track still sounds amazing today in my opinion. I seem also to remember being bought the “Ghostbusters” seven inch single on the same day but we will quickly skirt over that as the only people I was gonna call in my life then was Frankie well maybe second after Kenny Dalglish. After what seems like an eternity the second FGTH album was released and before we knew it that was it all over, well until the tracks were first remixed in the early 90’s.

Relax Frankie Goes To Hollywood American Import

So Friday night and I was going to see Holly Johnson live in concert. Originally I had a standing ticket for the echo arena but the gig was moved to the auditorium and I can only assume because I got my ticket very early we ended up with seats on row B. There was no support and Holly made his way onto stage at 9pm and started with “Atomic City” the first track on his first solo album “Blast” Again as ever with music this took me right back to 1989 and a period when I stayed at my nans house as my mum and dad were away and the cassette version of “Blast” was eternally on my Walkman. Holly dressed impeccably in sparkly shoes and sequinned top complete with a set of sequinned nipples was soon into “Welcome To The Pleasure Dome” and I admit a wave of emotion came across me as I was transported back to 1984 living with my late mum and dad with my whole life ahead of me and not a fucking care in the world, well apart from hearing a siren that gave you three minutes to live before you would be vaporised by a nuclear bomb. That’s if you were lucky it could take weeks to die of radiation sickness. Anyway back to 2014 and its now terrorism or ebola thats gonna get you, well if you believe everything you see and read in the news. Holly belted out all the Frankie hits and a selection from his previous solo albums including “Penny Arcade” from the album “Dreams That Money Cant Buy” which in his own words was the album nobody bought including me. Though in my defence I did buy the two CD singles. After finishing on the best record ever made “Relax” (Picture below) it was an encore of “Two Tribes” and “The Power Of Love” how many artists can come back onto two songs of that magnitude ? Holly was in great voice (As was the female backing singer) and on great form with some very witty and sharp interaction with the crowd. So OK it might not have been the electric atmosphere of a sweaty heaving standing section of the Liverpool Royal Court in 1984 but it was the closest I was ever gonna get to it and it was pleasure to hear the songs performed live and I liked hearing the new tracks from the new album “Europa” but sadly my fave bit of european sounding pop music “Hold On Tight” wasn’t performed. I think I will treat myself to the new album on vinyl and how I wish me and my mum could go into HMV in town 30 years on and do it all again but sadly that isn’t to be and I don’t know if Ray Parker Junior has a new single out !!!

Holly Johnson Live 2014

A final tale to tell and one of my dads old mates a Jim Weston who was an lecturer at what was then Liverpool Art College I Liverpool Polytechnic reckons a certain ex pupil of his was Holly Johnson. Jim was an eccentric character and I remember him saying that Holly was an ex pupil and that he gave him the golden advice that went along the lines of “Don’t be wasting your time with this music lark stick to your art” I would love to know if that was true and with Holly getting back into art in later life I wonder if Jim was right ha ha. I have one of Jim’s drawings in my office/boys rooms that I just didn’t have the heart to throw out after my dad died as it was proudly hanging in his house. Funny enough that is signed J Weston 1984. Just where did those 30 years go eh. A great gig, evoking some great if not tainted with a hint of sadness memories.


Fay x x x x x x


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