Thoughts on … finally seeing Tom Bailey playing the whole Into The Gap album live
At the weekend I went to a very special gig in Aylesbury, where Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins was performing the whole of their 1984 Into The Gap album live for the first time. He rarely does solo shows outside of support slots at 80s events, and hasn’t done a proper UK solo tour at all, so I made the effort to travel for this one-off event, and it did not disappoint.
Thompson Twins don’t get as much critical acclaim as a lot of the other synth-pop acts of the era, but I absolutely loved them, and later grew to love the scratchier guitar driven stuff before they slimmed down to the classic trio line-up. I was just a little bit too young at the time to see them when they were touring Quick Step & Side Kick and Into The Gap, though I used to have a live concert taped off the telly in the good old days of VHS, so know what the shows looked like.
Anyway, I found the whole experience very emotional. Bailey has had an uneasy relationship with his back catalogue through the years. Thompson Twins, down to just a duo of Tom and Alannah Currie from 1986 to when they called it quits in 1993, even changed their name to Babble at one point to escape the trappings of those early hits. When he played some Thompson Twins songs live in 2014 it was the first time he had done so for 27 years. It was an unexpected delight when Bailey re-emerged in 2018 with a first solo album under his own name which just sounded like a continuation of the classic Thompson Twins sound rather than the more experimental and dub music he had been making as International Observer.
It was so lovely to see him enjoying the show and performing the material, and a really lovely theatre setting for it. There was a strictly no dancing rule which was completely ignored from start to finish – although I had knackered my ankle earlier in the day so I mostly just leaned against solid things and waved my hands.
Nostalgia is a wonderful feeling sometimes, and music can take you right back to a time and a place. Lay Your Hands On Me will always remind me of playing my limited edition US 12” Remix by John “Tokes” Potoker while playing Doomdark’s Revenge on my ZX Spectrum.
I saw him supporting Human League late last year, but it was great to get an extended set from Tom, and especially one with a focus on Into The Gap.
My kids sometimes ask me what did you used to do to fill the time when there was no internet, and I remember that one thing I did was write and choreograph a whole series of videos to go with that album, turning it into a connected concept piece, complete with my presumably incredibly literal 12-year-old’s mind interpretation of the lyrics. Thank goodness we didn’t have the internet, otherwise presumably I would have filmed myself rehearsing and miming along to it and uploaded bits of it to TikTok or whatever.
Anyway, a lovely time was had by all.