ONE of life’s enduring mysteries is that Marc Almond, rather like Keith Richards and Holly Johnson, is one of rock’s great survivors.

Few would have predicted that after emerging triumphant in 1981 with Soft Cell sidekick Dave Ball on the electronically reworked Gloria Jones 1965 hit Tainted Love, later so beloved of the Northern Soul cognoscente, that he would still be here giving it large in 2017.

But that’s exactly what we find as the surprisingly down to earth Almond, now 60 and still with full head of black hair, strides on to the Lighthouse stage in front of his orchestra on his fairly extensive Shadows And Reflections tour promoting the album of the same name.

This features sumptuous arrangements of sometimes unfamiliar iconic torch songs and 60s orchestral pop – which has not been an unknown quantity during a 36-year career – by the likes of Burt Bacharach, Julie Driscoll, Bobby Darin and Billy Fury.

Almond always adds a little je ne sais quois to his reworkings of old classics and tonight was no different, although there’s probably a reason why many of them remain unknown.

He worked his way through an extensive set of more than 25 songs, including David Bowie’s London Boys, the Dusty classic I Close My Eyes and, intriguingly, Van Der Graaf Generator mainman Peter Hammill’s Just Good Friends.

It was all good, well done stuff with a 17-piece ‘orchestra’ comprising five strings, three guitars, two brass, drums, two keyboards and four excellent backing singers (sadly without the brilliant Louise Marshall).

But the gig didn’t truly come alive until towards the end when some more familiar material kicked in – such as Torch and Jacky.

Penultimate song, Northern Soul classic Find Me Somebody was indeed, as Almond suggested, real stomper and he also integrated a chunk of Tainted Love done in the original style.

However, the whole night seemed to be a preamble towards the stupendous Say Hello Wave Goodbye. If there is a pop song that lends itself more readily to the big band treatment I’ve not heard it. And here it was stunning, if a little light on the brass, and got the enthusiastic audience really on their feet.

Support came from Dublin-based Galia Arad, a quirky American singer-songwriter from Indiana of whom much more should, and will, be heard. Her witty, observational songs deserve more than 20 minutes in the provinces.