October 26, 2023
Forty years ago, ‘Bite’ was the third and final album to be released by Altered Images; produced by Mike Chapman and Tony Visconti and steering the group’s sound in a more polished and mature direction.
Despite commercial success and featuring one of the group’s most successful singles, Don’t Talk To Me About Love, the LP marked the end of the band’s record-releasing run – a hiatus that lasted four decades, before Clare Grogan revived the outfit and finally returned to the studio for last year’s comeback, ‘Mascara Streakz’.
Songs from that body of work featured in the second act of the show, but it was all about ‘Bite’ as the Scot took to the stage, glammed up in a black dress and silver earrings with her hair styled back – a look reminiscent of the iconic album cover – and powered through an eight-song set, with the record played front-to-back.
Opening with Bring Me Closer and featuring tracks not performed for decades, it was a new experience for the star who admitted her nerves early on. “I’ve been crying for weeks about this,” she shared after the first song, joking: “I’m such a fanny, aren’t I?!”
Charm and charisma were in abundance and Grogan’s vocals matched those levels too; early nerves subsided several songs in and come the album’s midpoint, she found her groove – spurred on by a rapturous reaction to the Top 10 smash Don’t Talk To Me About Love – and delivered one of the strongest performances of the night on deep cut Stand So Quiet.
The single Change Of Heart and bouncy Another Lost Look came to life in a live setting and incorporated the band – a new ensemble with Grogan the sole founding member, but a unit more than capable of delivering the energy and musicianship that the Altered Images catalogue demands.
Ending the first half with ‘Bite’ closer, the mid-tempo Thinking About You, a short intermission made way for a decades-spanning second half, launching with ‘Pinky Blue’ (1982) single I Could Be Happy before coming up to date with the title song from the fourth Altered Images album, showcasing Grogan’s more recent work.
From that LP, the single Glitter Ball and deep cut Double Reflection – a stormer of a synth-pop tune that stands among their very best – made the set and found their place alongside classics like See Those Eyes and Dead Pop Stars, the very first Altered Images single.
It was, of course, Happy Birthday that closed the show, apt not only as their breakthrough hit but as a signing off from a special evening celebrating an album that helped redefined the post-punk group and, despite proving controversial at the time and paving the way for an extended break, stands out today as a remarkable body of work not only from the group, but the early-’80s altogether.