Not normally one for retro gigs, I was drawn to this as soon as I was aware John Foxx would be playing a special concert at the prestigious Roundhouse theatre to celebrate 30 years since the original release of his ground-breaking debut solo album, Metamatic. For this special occasion John Foxx would be accompanied on stage by special guests and a bank of analogue-only synthesizers.
The mood was set with a DJ set from Gary Numan & Ade Fenton of late 1970’s and early 1980’s electronic music, the likes of Nag Nag Nag by Cabaret Voltaire, Are Friends Electric by Tubeway Army and Memorabilia by Soft Cell filled the Roundhouse, a perfect choice of venue.
John Foxx was greeted by very enthusiastic applause and took centre-stage behind a bank of synthesizers. His set was in three-parts; the first being songs from Metamatic, early singles and b-sides from that era. Burning Car, This Town, He’s A Liquid, No One Driving, and of course Underpass (or as one of my friends used to sing ‘Underpants’).
The crowd were mesmerised by the almost motionless John Foxx as he orchestrated proceedings from the front of the stage while a large screen played fitting monochrome accompaniment to analogue songs.
For the second part of the set Foxx introduced Louis Gordon, and played songs from their collaborations from albums from the mid-1990’s. Gordon found it hard to hide his excitement but it was clear the audience were here to hear older John Foxx tracks.
With Underpass already played, the final part of the show had to be something special, and it was. Joining John Foxx on stage to play three songs was original Ultravox guitarist Robin Simon. The crowd went mad for Dislocation, Quiet Man and Slow Motion from the 1978 album ‘Systems of Romance’.
Like his music, John Foxx has aged well. Away from commercial pandering, Top of the Pops limelight and synth pop comings and goings, John Foxx decided to turn his back on commercial success after Metamatic; a move that kept his dignity and fan base intact. Unlike Midge Ure’s Ultravox and the smash hits world of Gary Numan, John Foxx was seen as more thought-provoking and serious about his musical output.
Now, thirty years on, at the Roundhouse, his music lived on.