MARC ALMOND, Meltdown, Royal Festival Hall – Evening Standard, 10 Aug 2012

Introducing Marc Almond’s performance of his 1983 release Torment and Toreros, Antony Hegarty gave the impression that he would have been happy if the Meltdown festival he has curated had consisted of just this night. It is “the one record that changed my life for ever,” he said.

Released under the Marc and the Mambas name, it stood out as an exotic beast in an electronic age, all stirring strings and sultry, seedy Latin drama. Almond has called it “a nervous breakdown committed to vinyl”, an “exorcism” that he insists he will never perform again.

It’s not for the faint-hearted, and there was no time to soften the blows with a blast of Tainted Love. Here the love was even more stained — “Can you smell the herpes?” he sang on Catch a Fallen Star. Never mind performing it again, he seemed emotionally exhausted halfway through, taking a seat for the piano ballad In my Room.

While some songs were overlong and overwrought, there was fun to be had in Almond’s frequent cymbal crashes and the cries of “Olé!” from the choir during The Bulls.

Antony duetted twice, clearly having a Jim’ll Fix It moment. By the close Almond was not tormented but triumphant.

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