Leicester University: October 24th, 1985

“The concert took place at Leicester University in a hall filled with ornate woodwork and polished parquet, a mixture of the Jeu de Paume in Paris and a Court of Law. Thick red curtains hung from the windows and from great opaque bulbs oozed a milky light, lending a dull sheen to the slats of parquet and spreading itself in a last silky tint on the girls’ cheekbones.

“The shy, the slightly drunk, the Banshees and the Madonnas, were there, just like anywhere else. On the other hand the sylph figured blonde of the group, Wendy Smith, who is generally understood to be Paddy’s girlfriend, was missing. A bout of bronchitus had temporarily removed her from the stage (but she will be back before the upcoming French concerts). And so obviously we were deprived of a great part of the Sprout’s charm.

“That aside, Prefab Sprout isn’t the best live group in the world. Paddy’s guitar skills are limited. But that’s quibbling. The songs are so good that they hook you in. They flow over you.

“Before the set we went to eat a chicken curry with the tour manager and roadies in a building that looked a bit like a physics or chemistry lab, in the university buildings. More to reinforce the idea of “rock for the unemployed”. After the set the fans, the followers and the group talked over plastic cups full of sodas or St-Emilion. A scene any rock critic has seen a thousand times, maybe it’s usually a bit livelier.

“All the same it was a warmer atmosphere than usual. Maybe because of the smiles. That manner of making the banal joyous is something unique to Prefab Sprout.

“It was 2am when we returned to the hotel. Sitting in the back of the coach I asked: “What do people mostly do in Leicester then?”. And Martin replied with an impish smile: “They die”. I’d seen the Sprout.”

Francis Dordor, Best Magazine


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