What’s On has an interview with The Human League in Dubai as Joanna Catherall, Philip Oakley and Susan Ann Sulley prepare for a show at Irish Village.

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Joanne Catherall has been singing in The Human League since the 1980s, when lead singer Philip Oakley discovered her and bandmate Susan Ann Sulley dancing in the Crazy Daisy nightclub in Sheffield. Here she chats to What’s On ahead of their show at the Irish Village.

What brings you back to Dubai? It will be our third visit – we got the call out of the blue from the Irish Village asking us if we’d like to play. We’ve just finished the summer festivals, and have nothing planned until our European tour starts in December, so it’s the perfect opportunity to visit again.

What are you most looking forward to about Dubai? It’ll be nice to get some sunshine before Christmas, and it’ll be my birthday while I’m here so I’m sure we’ll go out on the town to celebrate at some point. And we can’t wait to hit the shops.

Speaking of shopping, you guys were known for your rather flamboyant style back in the day. Can we expect more of that 80s glam? Um, not quite! The big one-sided fringes and bright pink blusher are behind us. But we do keep things glamorous and do lots of costume changes during the night – it makes it more of a show.

What else can we expect from the show? We’ve got a big back catalogue of hits to choose from, so it will be a mix of old and new tracks. Obviously, we can’t cover everything and please everyone – we’d be there for hours.

What’s your favourite track to perform? Well, Don’t You Want Me Baby is the obvious one – everyone knows it and everyone loves it, so we still get a buzz when we perform it. We’re not the kind of band to deny our biggest songs – we know people came to hear the hits.

So the rumour that Philip didn’t like that song when it first came out isn’t true? You know, you’re the second person to ask me that, and I can say, absolutely not.


Do you think the audience at the Irish Village will be the same generation of fans from when you first started out? Surprisingly, we’ve actually got a lot of younger fans now – people who’ve heard remixes of our songs, or whose parents played our records while they were growing up. Plus, there’s the fact that electronic music is quite trendy now.

What do you think of the fact that electronic music is back in fashion? And are there any modern artists that you really rate? We really like La Roux. Her sound is quite similar to ours, and it’s nice to hear that kind of pure electronica. It’s been a long time coming – when we started out, people didn’t really rate electronic music that much. Synthesisers weren’t seen as a “proper instrument”. It’s come around in a big way.

September 25
The Irish Village, Dubai, Dhs160, 9pm. Tel: (04) 2824750. Metro: GGICO. theirishvillage.com