Frankie Goes to Hollywood reunite after 36 years – and fans are divided: ‘Utterly bizarre’

80s biggest band Frankie Goes to Hollywood reunite after 36 years. (Getty)

Frankie Goes to Hollywood, renowned for their chart-topping gay anthems, reunited in their hometown of Liverpool for Eurovision 2023, 36 years after their final performance.

The original line-up of the band, including openly gay lead singer Holly Johnson and keyboardist Paul Rutherford – alongside Brian Nash, Mark O’Toole and Peter Gill – took to the stage during the Eurovision opening concert at Liverpool’s St George’s Plateau on Sunday (7 May) evening.

It was the first time the founding members had performed since 1987 – causing droves of diehard fans to make the pilgrimage to see the trailblazing LGBTQ+ band reunited in the flesh.

Frankie Goes to Hollywood blew up in the 1980s with a range of hit songs so explicit and outwardly queer that for a period of time they were banned by the BBC. Their first number-one single “Relax”, set in a homoerotic S&M club and packed with sexual innuendo, came out in 1983 and was closely followed by their other two chart-toppers, “Two Tribes” and “The Power of Love”.

Up until the band tragically (and very messily) fell apart in 1987, they dominated the music industry, gaining a loyal gay following with their two albums Welcome to the Pleasuredome and Liverpool as they unapologetically sang about hot-button political issues from LGBTQ+ rights to the Cold War.

Since breaking up, Johnson has been vocal about his sexuality and his journey with HIV as he pursued his solo career.

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Despite their cultural impact, it looked unlikely fans would ever see them back together again – until now. On their return, the band thrilled on stage, although their one-off performance did leave fans somewhat confused.

Much like their career, the band kept their Eurovision set short and sweet, playing only one song to an eagerly-awaiting crowd of 25,000 fans. Not only that, they ditched their best known big hitters for “Welcome to the Pleasuredome”, their fourth lead single which never reached the stratospheric heights of its predecessors, only peaking at number two in the UK charts in 1985.

Given this reunion was almost four decades in the making, fans were left torn between being blown away by the undeniable talent from the band, who are now all in their 60s, and disappointed by the somewhat lacklustre set.

“After all the hype of Frankie Goes to Hollywood reuniting for the first time in decades … they only did one song!! One song!!!” one person wrote.

“Frankie Goes to Hollywood came out and did one of their lesser known songs and f**ked off. Utterly bizarre,” another added.

Despite fans calling for them to launch a reunion tour next year, it looks like this performance may have been their swan song.

“I’m 60 this month,” Nash told the BBC about why they reunited, “it may be the last time we ever get together. We’re all in the queue, you know what I mean. It’s for Liverpool as well, it’s a real coup for Liverpool to have got this. We’re proud to show off our city.”

We won’t be holding our breaths for another reunion anytime soon.

The Eurovision grand final will air on Saturday 13 May on BBC One at 8pm, from the host city of Liverpool with Mae Muller representing the UK.

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