Released : 1980
Less (in)famous than it’s counterpart in Manchester of the same year, the Sex Pistols gig in Caerphilly in 1976 would galvanise one more spectator into rescuing themselves from the drabness of the seventies, the misfit in queston being Steve Harrington, a seventeen year old who just two years later would find himself in London working for Malcolm McLaren.
Now renamed Steve Strange, as the decade closed it took on a futurist hue, from cars supposedly built by robots to the development of the Space Shuttle and the home computer. Fashion echoed this brave new world aesthetic via the New Romantic movement, facilitated by Strange at nights run at Covent Garden nightclub The Blitz. With fellow maverick Rusty Egan and a group of other names – including Midge Ure – he formed Visage, an outlet for a musical movement gaining a wider profile thanks in particular to David Bowie’s starkly dystopian hit Ashes to Ashes.
Fade to Grey was originally written as Toot City by Chris Payne and Billy Currie whilst touring with Gary Numan; searching for a hit to bolster Visage’s debut album, Ure seized on it, re-wrote the melody and brought in Egan’s girlfrien Brigitte Arens to sing some of the lyrics in French.
Reborn as mystical, introverted synth pop, Fade To Grey stood at the precipice of what looked like the end of the industrial age and whispered in corners, a trans-continental rapture for the new robot worker empire. For a moment at least, it felt like this was the shape of things to come.