Three decades on and band are still at the top of League

The Human League shot in London studio 2014
The Human League shot in London studio 2014

Picture the scene: you’re dancing in a Sheffield nightclub with your best friend when a bona fide pop star approaches you and asks you both to join his band on an upcoming tour of Europe.

It may sound like the plot of a film but that is exactly what happened to Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall when they were aged 17 and 18 in 1980.

The pair joined Philip Oakey to become The Human League and have gone on to release eight top ten singles – including the number one smash Don’t You Want Me – and four top ten albums, the multi-million selling Dare among them.

Three decades on from that fortuitous meeting and having never broken up as a band, The Human League are one of the headliners at the Flashback Festival, which takes place at Rockingham Castle over the weekend of July 9 and 10 this year. Other performers include Billy Ocean, Kim Wilde, T’Pau, Heaven 17 and the Bay City Rollers.

Susan Ann Sulley, said if anything has changed over the last 30-odd years, it’s that the band has become much better.

“We were rubbish at first,” she concedes.

“There were times in the early days that I was slightly embarrassed about getting on stage, but these days we are really good at what we do.”

The Human League are embarking on a headline tour later this year and Susan says the experience of playing at the ‘revival’ festivals is very different to performing on their own.

“We’re friends with a lot of the bands we play with from that era now, whereas in the 80s we were competitors,” adds Susan.

“We don’t see them as rivals anymore. Everyone works really hard to make the shows a great experience.”

Susan says there have been a lot of changes in the music industry since their 1980s heyday. She added: “The way you make money now is completely different.

“You very much make money from concerts now, whereas traditionally it used to be record sales.”

For more information about the Flashback Festival, visit www.rockinghamcastle.com/flashback-music-festival. Day, weekend and camping tickets are still available.