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Human League definitely want Stonehaven Hogmanay gig

Human League definitely want Stonehaven Hogmanay gig

Susan Ann Sulley's name might not be instantly recognisable.

But anybody who has listened to 1980s music will know her voice from The Human League - one of the bands which defined that generation.

There is still something thrilling about hearing the first few bars of the Sheffield group's Don't You Want Me, which was the Christmas number one in 1981 and subsequently topped the US Billboard chart.

It's an unforgettable song and one which is up there with Don't You Forget About Me by Simple Minds and West End Girls by The Pet Shop Boys.

Once heard, never forgotten, they're part of rock lore, which makes it doubly astonishing that Susan and her colleagues, Philip Oakey and Joanne Catherall, will be performing live in Stonehaven on Hogmanay.

Yet, when Susan spoke exclusively to STV Aberdeen, she was both looking forward to the gig and hoping it passes with less drama than the trio's last New Year event in Scotland.

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She said: "We have always had a good reaction from audiences whenever we have played in Scotland and I'm sure this will be a brilliant event.

"We don't know anything about Stonehaven, and I've never been there, but the organisers seem to have pulled out all the stops and we're looking forward to the event.

"We played at the New Year Millennium concert in Glasgow [in 1999] and there was a problem with the electrics which led to a fire breaking out in George Square.

"That was a bit out of the ordinary, but we've been to Scotland on a regular basis, we were at T in the Park this summer and that was a special experience.

"There's something inspiring about touring and I never grow tired of going on stage and saying hello to people who have turned up to see you.

"We go back on the road in a couple of weeks in Leicester and, after what has been a quiet period for us, we can't wait to be back on stage."

The Human League has north east buzzing at gig news

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Susan was refreshingly honest in discussing how she and her band buddies have remained in a league of their own for the past three decades.

They've stuck to their guns, refused to embrace transient trends and only occasionally returned to the studio to create new material.

Their last album Credo emerged in 2011, and gained some positive reviews, alongside others which gave it faint praise.

Yet, as she said: "We've never really taken a break. We only slowed down in the 1990s, because nobody wanted to listen to synthesizers.

"But we have never had any huge master plan. We sort of trundle along, but we work hard and we're fortunate that so many people want to hear the songs from [the multi-million-selling album] Dare.

"Perhaps it's because we still love performing the hits. Why wouldn't you when so many people have grown up listening to these songs?"

The Human League burst back into the spotlight earlier this year when Aberdeen fans, caught up in the effervescence which followed the club's League Cup triumph, amended the lyrics of their biggest hit to Peter Pawlett, Baby.

Aberdeen Football Club

Within a few days, the song was selling in sufficiently big numbers that it topped the Scottish chart, re-entered the UK list, and earned the band fresh recognition.

"We could hardly believe it when it happened, but was incredibly flattering," Susan said.

"It put us back in the Top 20 for the first time in a few years and we didn't even have to do anything.

"We heard fans singing their version at T in the Park a few months later. I think it shows you never know what is coming up next in this business."

There are still tickets available here for the Stonehaven Open Air in the Square concert, and Susan has promised there will be no messing around with experimental new material when they roll into the north-east community.

"It's going to be a celebration, a party, and we know the audience will have made a special effort to be there," Susan said.

"So I think it's safe to assume we'll be playing Don't You Want Me and Love Action and Fascination... and the rest.

"Because all we have ever wanted to do was make pop music and the fact we were successful was secondary to that.

"We can't be unfair to the public who have paid their money and we always remember that. We are not just a band from the 1980s. We are busier now than ever."

In short, The Human League are proud of their past and present and will bring in the New Year with giant slabs of synth-fuelled magic. Why change a winning formula?

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