ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Duke of York Theatre, London

ACT, DUKE OF YORK THEATRE, LONDON

Immaculately turned out, as befits their surrounding. Act took the stage to swanky piano accompaniment, looking less like a modern pop group that a small chamber orchestra. Three frocks, two hairdos, a bunch of carnations and a sequinned turban later, they took a final curtain call with not a rotten tomato in sight.

These traditional trappings, however, were offset by Acts electronic wizardry. Ex-Propaganda singer Claudia Bruckens distinctive voice was surrounded by various bangs and crashes as virtuoso Act technologist Thomas Leer commanded his sequencers to sequence and his Emulators to Emulate. The good songs (‘Laughter, ‘Absolutely Immune, ‘Snobbery And Decay) were as satisfying as anything Propaganda created, but the dodgy songs (‘Body Electric, ‘The Third Planet) veered dangerously close to the Mobiles gruesome ‘Funeral In Berlin.

The most bizarre event of the evening was their unbelievably camp cover of ‘Heaven Knows Im Miserable Now, Claudia launching white carnations into the audience in a not very subtle reference to Morrissey with heavy Dame Edna overtones. Highlight of the night was also a cover version; whos have thought, while we were watching Andrew Lloyd Webber rambling on at the BPI Awards, that he would be responsible for one of Acts finest moments? Nevertheless, ‘Id Be Surprisingly Good For You (originally recorded for ‘Evita by Julie Covington and Joss Ackland!) has the kind of theatrical pomposity that prevents Act from being just another bunch of Numanoids.

I laughed a little, I cried a little and I blushed only occasionally.

Tim Nicholson