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Title: Act of propaganda
Author: John Holt

Act of Propaganda

Claudia puts the accent on power


It’s difficult enough thinking of something to say to one of your favourite pop stars. It’s harder still when someone lets on you named your cat after her.

Claudia Brucken, however, was genuinely flattered and eager to know all about her feline namesake.

This vital pop talk came backstage at Trent Poly last week after an excellent set by her new group, Act – a team-up with Thomas Leer.

Claudia was lead singer with the vastly-underrated Propaganda, a German foursome whose Secret Wish LP of searing electronic songs may not have troubled the Gallup pollsters as consistently as Pet Shop products, but possessed none of the Boys’ predictability.

Their best known song, Duel, remains one of the musical highlights of the decade and its omission from the Act set was the only complaint of an otherwise brilliant evening of powerful, melodic electro-pop at its finest. With a debut LP due in two weeks, the Poly gig was a quiet warm-up for the forthcoming tour, and despite the bargain 50p admission, Act played to an audience of barely 200.

Claudia, who delighted a capacity Propaganda audience at Rock City three years ago is a powerful and charistmatic as ever.

You’d be pushed to name a performer who’s more graceful on stage and quicker to spot a camera on the front row.

Her German accent has a disarming effect on certain vowels and enhances one of the strongest voices around, while hardly a stage moment or mannerism goes to waste.

Two BIG suprises were a stunning cover of The Smiths’ Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s I’d Be Surpringly Good For You – the former accompanied by the first costume change and a bunch of white chrysanthemums for distribution to the audience, some of whom patently didn’t know what to make of it all.

Apart from those, and the singles Absolutely Immune and Snobbery and Decay, there was little to recognise but plenty to savour and look forward to on vinyl – or as Paul Morley, ZTT Records leading light and former journalistic enfant terrible, prefers, “the 60-minute compact disc”.

ZTT has not been a happy haven for pop stars of late with the trial and tribulations of Holly Johnson who was finally granted his exit visa from FGTH.

“Pop died with Frankie, anyway,” smiled Mr Morley who, unfortunately, has Claudia’s hand in marriage.

If there’s any justice or taste left in pop audiences, Claudia and Thomas should breathe new life into the corpse. A hard Act to follow indeed.