It was a moment many fans thought would never come.
But the reunion of Frankie Goes to Hollywood at the Eurovision opening concert on Sunday evening, 36 years after the band’s acrimonious last gig, left devotees elated – and a little confused.
As the instantly recognisable driving rhythmic bass and crashing cymbals flooded St George’s Plateau in their home city of Liverpool, the band were greeted with roars from a crowd of 25,000 people.
However, there was no sign of their biggest hits – Relax, Two Tribes or The Power of Love – with the five-piece forgoing their more well-known songs and instead only playing Welcome to the Pleasuredome, which charted at No 2 in 1985.
Fans praised the band’s members, Holly Johnson, Brian Nash, Paul Rutherford, Mark O’Toole and Peter Gill, who are now in their 60s, for their performance and commented that the familiar percussive vocals “sounded like they’d never been away”.
The band, responsible for the popular “Frankie Say Relax” T-shirts, have not performed since a bitter spat before their final gig at Wembley Arena in 1987 reportedly led to a fight backstage.
The Liverpool crowd shouted for more but were left puzzled after one song when Johnson, the lead singer, said: “Bless you. Lovely to see you all,” and the band left the stage. On social media, spectators described it as “utterly bizarre” and “a piss-take”.
The Liverpool Echo reporter Dan Haygarth tweeted: “One song? Amazing to see them but come on.”
Atomic Kitten and the Lightning Seeds were also huge draws for the event celebrating Liverpool’s musical heritage, which was dubbed “Eurovision meets Scousevision” by the Lightning Seeds frontman, Ian Broudie.
The lineup also featured artists including the Eurovision star Conchita Wurst and Ukraine’s Jamala, who performed her 2016 Eurovision winning song, 1944, with the United Ukrainian Ballet.
However, there were also complaints that a large proportion of the crowd did not care about Eurovision, the competition dating back to the 1950s, which is being held in Liverpool next Saturday.
Some people in the crowd reported hearing homophobic and xenophobic comments, and being fearful of “terrifying near-crush conditions”.
Attenders were seen being carried over the barriers after becoming distressed, while others left before the end due to safety concerns. However, Liverpool council said it had been closely monitoring the situation and there were no reported injuries.
A spokesperson said during the concert: “Stewards assisted a few people who were uncomfortable in the crowd. The event started on time and is getting a great reception from the audience.”