August 22, 2008

MUSIC REVIEW ; These ’80s Acts Take Us Back



At the Bank of America Pavilion, last Wednesday night.

Bet you never thought you'd see this, a New Romantic synth-pop revival tour! Wednesday night at the Bank of America Pavilion, five acts from the era of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher plugged in their electronic toys and brought fans back to the early days of MTV. - or snowy local channel V-66, for those of us who didn't have cable.

Naked Eyes founder Pete Byrne opened the show, appropriately, with the Bacharach-David chestnut "Always Something There to Remind Me." His set-closing "Promises Promises" got the early crowd dancing.

A Flock of Seagulls followed with a well-received six-song set that featured hits "Wishing (I Had a Photograph of You),""I Ran (So Far Away)" and "Space Age Love Song" (What, no parenthetical subtitle!?). Back in the day, frontman/hairdresser Mike Score was known more for his laughably outrageous asymmetrical haircut. How does he look today? Well, he hid a ponytail under a ballcap, but he kinda resembled the Michelin Man after a monthlong Krispy Kreme binge.

Martin Fry, the leader of hitmakers ABC, however, has aged remarkably well. Looking dapper in a well-tailored tangerine- colored suit, Fry has mastered the Bryan Ferry/Thin White Duke-era Bowie persona. In fine voice and backed by a tight six-piece band, ABC's set was the night's best. Fan faves such as a sleek and powerful "Poison Arrow" and "The Look of Love" energized the crowd. Mellower tunes "Be Near Me" and the Smokey Robinson tribute "When Smokey Sings" also thrilled concertgoers, many of whom retrieved their '80s outfits and accessories from the closet.

Former Go-Go's singer Belinda Carlisle, who celebrated her 50th birthday last Sunday, is still a hottie. But the California girl's polished adult contemporary pop songs seemed out of place on a bill with four British synth-pop acts. To be fair, the audience adored her, but it was a trio of songs ("Vacation,""Our Lips Are Sealed" and "We Got the Beat") by her former band that were most thrilling. Solo hits "Circles in the Sand" and "Heaven is a Place on Earth" zapped the set of its momentum.

Headliners the Human League were absolutely fabulous. In addition to being visually striking - band members were clothed in black while everything on stage, even the MacBook stand, was white - the band just rocked. Founder Philip Oakey and longtime members/ vocalists Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall were brilliant. The electronic drums on "Tell Me When" and "Seconds" set a ferocious beat. And can it really be 26 years since we put on our skinny ties and danced at Spit on Lansdowne Street to the euphoric "Don't You Want Me"?

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Originally published by By BILL BROTHERTON.

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