Hardy band of thirtysomethings turn out for tribute to the decade that taste forgot 

Small but perfectly reformed 

It's a funny thing, nostalgia. 

For some the 1980s conjure up grim images of yuppie greed, spiralling dole queues and Little and Large being on TV on a regular basis. 

But for others it was a magical era when Live Aid fed the world, the Dons were kings of Europe, and they got their first snog behind the bike sheds. 

Howling winds and horizontal rain meant leg-warmers, ra-ra skirts and deeley-boppers were replaced by sensible winter woollies, but a hardy band of mainly thirtysomethings turned out at the Music Hall last night to pay homage to the decade that taste forgot. 

"He's older and uglier, but still talented," boomed an unseen voice as Ben Volpierre-Pierrot kicked off the Best of the 80s gig. 

In tribute to his host city, the Curiosity Killed The Cat frontman swapped his trademark backwards beret for a tartan "bunnet". 

There were gasps when the smoothie singer doffed his hat to reveal a shock of cherubic curls. 

"Only kidding," he winked as he chucked the wig to one side exposing his shaven scalp. 

Ben may now be a dead ringer for REM frontman Michael Stipe, but he still had the girls screaming as he crooned the hits Misfit, Name and Number and Down to Earth. 

Unbelievably, Clare Grogan looked younger than when Altered Images were top of the pops. 

The baby-voiced Glaswegian vocalist looked genuinely chuffed to be on stage in Aberdeen. 

She beamed: "This is the first time I've sung these songs in front of a Scottish audience in 23 years. 

"Last time I was in Aberdeen I fell off stage, so will you catch me if I take a flyer again?" 

Dozens of grown men, transformed once again to drooling teenagers, would have been happy to oblige. 

By the time Happy Birthday rang out, Clare and the audience were clearly having a ball. 

At one point she sighed girlishly: "Ooh, that's gorgeous. You're singing my songs in a Scottish accent." 

Not to be outdone, one-time punk princess Toyah Willcox made an entrance to rival her many pantomime appearances. 

Striding out in a velvet basque and thigh-high boots she quipped: "Has anyone seen my dress?" 

She belted out rocking covers of Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins and Sweet Child o' Mine by Guns 'n' Roses. 

As the audience sang along to her angst-ridden anthem I Want to be Free, Toyah confessed: "I feel a bit of a fraud. I wrote this song when I was 12 and now I'm 46." 

The nostalgia night was completed by Haircut 100 frontman Nick Heyward, who had the crowd dancing in the aisles to Love Plus One and Fantastic Day. 

Wild applause at the end means it is only a matter of time before the Best of the 90s tour starts snaking round the country. 

By Marc Horne 

Aberdeen Evening Express
October 2004