MARC Almond’s last appearance at the Philharmonic Hall saw him replicating the kind of tragic figure he so often immortalised in song.
With his cracked voice failing to hit the high notes, Almond cut a sad figure that night, but as he proudly exclaims, tonight was going to be very different.
And so it was. Gone were the self-depracating apologies as Almond gracefully accepted bouquets from the crowd and threw back his bright blue scarf with a flourish, before launching into the highlights of a hit-laden career that has seen him sell more than 30 million records.
As he explained to the adoring crowd, this tour was supposed to accompany a three decade-spanning singles collection and despite the record failing to materialise it gave the Southport-born singer the chance to pick and choose from a superb back catalogue laden with melodramatic highlights.
Almond is at his best when he channels that special brand of inner heartbreak as he did on a jaw-dropping version of Jacques Brel’s If You Go Away which saw him in full-on torch song mode accompanied by a lone piano,
Brel’s lyrics with their references to "authentic queers and phoney virgins" are a perfect fit for Almond who repeats the trick on the Belgian’s Jacky which ushers in a hit-laden finale.
By this time Almond was clearly having fun, waving to his mum and auntie sitting proudly in one of the Phil’s boxes and camply berating late comers to the stalls by listing to them the songs and highlights of the show they had missed.
Hit after hit soon followed with Almond’s 1989 number one Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart dedicated to Almond collaborator Gene Pitney and Days of Pearly Spencer turning David McWilliams’ 60s classic into a triumphant romp.
Despite Soft Cell rarely getting the credit spared for contemporaries like The Human League or ABC, their status as electro innovators is secure and it was this early work which Almond chooses to revisit for a triumphant finish.
Tainted Love, Bedsitter and What Can I Do? all got the crowd dancing in the aisles as they relived their youth, but it was a beautiful Say Hello Wave Goodbye which brought a tear to the eye and summed up Almond’s extraordinary way around a song.