I was enormously lucky to be invited to last week’s London launch party for a new Soft Cell beer!
Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been a massive fan of 80’s synth-pop duo Soft Cell since I was a young teenager. And their new, limited-edition, Soft Cell beer is named Say Hello, Wave Goodbye – after one of Soft Cell’s most iconic and enduring global hits (treat yourself to some 80’s pop video nostalgia here!).
So I took a night off the low-carb diet(!), put on my drinking boots, and got myself down to The Southwark Tavern in London Bridge…..
– Why have Soft Cell launched a beer?!
– New definitive Soft Cell box set
– What’s Soft Cell Beer like?
– Where can I drink Soft Cell beer?
– Pictures & gossip from the Soft Cell beer & box set launch party
Why have Soft Cell launched a beer?!
Apparently it’s a thing these days! Since 2012, Renegade Music, who promote Soft Cell, have also launched beer and music collaborations with bands including Elbow, New Order, and Stereophonics.
And this time Renegade have collaborated with West Berkshire Brewery to release Soft Cell beer in the same month as Soft Cell’s final ever show at the O2 in London on 30th September, to celebrate their 40th anniversary. And both the beer and the show are named Say Hello Wave Goodbye.
Soft Cell’s music has been a part of the fabric of my life, and I have to double-take to realise that the band has now been around for 40 years. But even if you haven’t(!), you probably know their classic Number One single Tainted Love – or a later cover of it. Or even Gloria Jones’ original from 1964! But Soft Cell made Tainted Love iconic – and made it big themselves in the process – and their version remains one of the biggest-selling singles of all time in the UK and US.
New definitive Soft Cell box set
The Soft Cell beer launch and final ever concert also come in the same month as the release of the new super deluxe box set Keychains & Snowstorms – The Soft Cell Story. The launch party was intended to launch the box set too.
Scarlet West – Soho DJ, and author of gritty personal memoir I’d like To Thank Manchester Air Rifles – kept us entertained with tracks from the new Soft Cell box set, during what was its first public airing.
Click individual pictures to enlarge
The box set of nine CDs and a DVD is a comprehensive retrospective of Soft Cell’s work. Over half of it is previously unreleased material, and it includes a number of rarities.
You can find the box set – plus tons of other merchandise released to celebrate Soft Cell’s 40th year – to order here.
What’s Soft Cell Beer like?
West Berkshire Brewery’s Say Hello Wave Goodbye Soft Cell beer is a limited-edition cask pale ale available for three months only from 3rd September 2018.
Strength-wise it’s 4.2% ABV, and the brewery say it’s been inspired by ‘the classic English Bitters enjoyed by the band during their early years in Leeds, with the addition of New World hops to reflect their time in America’.
The brewery describe Soft Cell beer as having digestive biscuit (Graham cracker!), toffee, grapefruit and orange flavours. It’s a lighter ale, with aromas of apple, plum and caramel.
Find me in a bar, and I’m usually on the gin or red wine, which keeps the carbs and calories down. But I certainly do enjoy a pint or two of ale from time to time.
I’m not as familiar with pale ale as I am with some other beer styles. Not being a fan of the more bitter and hoppy IPA-style beers, I could certainly appreciate Say Hello Wave Goodbye’s good balance between bitterness and sweetness.
And for me – as someone who prefers maltier, darker ales – Soft Cell beer was just on the right side of citrusy. Any more, and for my personal taste it would have been too ‘bright’, and too much like a summer ale.
But I did like Soft Cell beer! So I made the most of my night off low-carb dieting, and I drank quite a lot of it!
Where can I drink Soft Cell beer?
You can only buy Soft Cell beer in Mitchells & Butlers pubs across the UK (although note that a date is yet to be announced for an even more limited 5.2% bottled edition, which it’s implied will be available off-sale). You should now be able to find it on tap in Nicholson’s Pubs, Ember Inns, and Castle Pubs for three months as part of their Autumn Seasonal Cask Range.
So pubs carrying Soft Cell beer include The Scarborough Arms in Leeds, where Soft Cell used to drink. And it will also be carried by a number of fantastic pubs in London that I’ve spent many a happy hour in over the years – including The Marquis of Granby, and one of my personal favourites – The Crown and Two Chairmen.
So you could sink a pint in one of these while transporting yourself into the sleazy glamour world of one of Soft Cell’s songs!
Pictures from the Soft Cell beer launch party
The venue for last week’s launch party was The Southwark Tavern, on Southwark Street, London Bridge. For a launch such as this, it was very fitting that it’s just around the corner from foodie mecca Borough Market.
Thursday night is the new Friday night, in case you’d forgotten! So when I arrived at 6pm, the pub was already busy with after-work drinkers enjoying a pint and the warm late summer weather outside. But that fate was not to be mine. For on entry to the pub, a sign pointed us downstairs to The Southwark Tavern’s delightfully dark and seedy cellar bar. Which is far more my sort of thing anyway.
Actually, I’ve spent time in The Southwark Tavern’s cellar before, and it isn’t usually as dark as this. But a dark space with nooks and crannies – lit predominantly by bespoke Soft Cell neon, plus a few candles – fitted this occasion perfectly.
I was beyond delighted that Dave Ball – seminal synth player with Soft Cell, so the man behind all their fantastic, ground-breaking music – was guest of honour at the Soft Cell beer launch. It was fabulous finally to meet – and also to clink beer glasses with – one of my absolute music heroes!
And on the Soft Cell beer itself, according to West Berkshire Brewery, Dave Ball said “A pint is a game of two halves, and I can confirm that no synthesisers were used in the making of this product”!
As you would expect, music marketing consultant Chris Smith – the man behind Renegade Music, who promote Soft Cell – was there to oversee that the Soft Cell beer launch event ran smoothly.
And the admins from the Tainted Life Facebook group – devoted to all things related to Soft Cell, and singer, Marc Almond OBE’s, solo career – were also in attendance.
Other lucky attendees included fellow blogger Chi Ming Lai. He’s one of the main men behind the very fabulous Electricity Club blog, which aims to feature the best in new and classic electronic pop music. It gets interviews with some very iconic names. And that includes just last month a key interview with Dave Ball, as he was preparing for the Soft Cell concert this month.
Big Soft Cell fans may also have heard about the Tainted musical that’s in the offing! Currently in development, the musical will feature songs by Soft Cell, and by Marc Almond as a solo performer.
The men behind this creation – Michael McManus, Charlie Ross McKenzie and Martin Davies – were also at the Soft Cell beer and box set launch.
They told me that initially there’ll be a one performance showcase of the Tainted musical, with very limited tickets. It seems this will be imminent! So if you want the chance to bag a ticket, then you need to be following the Tainted Musical Facebook page!
Meanwhile, back at the Soft Cell beer launch, someone had brought a dog along!…..
Dave Ball indulged us hugely, by signing a few beer mats…
Party-goers mingled, and got stuck into some more pints (and a few bar snacks)…
Click individual pictures to enlarge
And as the evening wore on, and more Soft Cell beer was consumed, the dancing – and singing – started! To Soft Cell of course.
Here’s Dave Chambers – photographer behind the images on the new Soft Cell box set – letting his hair down!
All in all, the Soft Cell beer launch was a fabulous fun evening that – being a lifelong fan of Soft Cell – I was very privileged to attend. And if you get to spend a night in the company of friends, with fantastic music, and some Say Hello Wave Goodbye Soft Cell beer – then I hope you have as good a time as I did!