Lost ’80s Live!

What if you threw a party and no one came? That’s what it seemed like at State Bank Amphitheatre when “Lost ‘80s Live” came to town. I’m not sure if the name had anything to do with it, because I’m guessing people must have gotten lost on their way because the amphitheatre was shockingly barren. To those who did not come, they truly missed out.

There were seven bands on the bill for “Lost ‘80s Live!” and there were a ton of hits compressed into a little over three hours. I am still in shock at the turnout. It seems as if the ‘80s never went away. Having lived through it and the decades following I remember ‘80s nights as early as ‘92 and today kids are being turned on to this music from one source or another. So much so, that promoters are coming up with package tours. Surprisingly a lot of your favorite ‘80s artists are still around in one form or another. Some are big enough to still be headliners on their own like U2, Janet Jackson, while others not so much like those here on the bill. All bands here had a big radio hit or two and left an impression on MTV. Tickets for this were well worth the price of admission for what they got in return.

Because so many bands were on the bill, many were limited to three or four songs, so there were no throwaway songs. If you were any fan of the band it was a good chance you knew the songs, and if you didn’t you knew it the last song they played, it being their ”bread and butter”song.

The night started off with Nu Shooz. Valarie Day’s voice was strong as ever. Their big hit, “I Can’t Wait” really doesn’t do her voice justice. A remix of the song is what made them MTV famous but her vocals were probably wasted on this project, although it made her famous. He voice is better suited for jazz and is too sophisticated for pop. That being said, and bandmate John Smith played three songs including chart hits “Point of No Return” and of course finishing their mini set with “I Can’t Wait”.

Up next was Animotion. Animotion had one really big hit, “Obsession” back in 1984. It was one of those songs that got played so much on the radio that I tuned the band out. “Obsession” peaked at 6. They had another top ten hit five years later with “Room to Move” but original lead singers Astrid Plane and Bill Wadhams were replaced on that album. After breaking up in 1990, the band regrouped in 2001 with Plane and Wadhams back. To the band’s credit today they have four of six original members. The band was tight and Plane spoke candidly with the intimate crowd about her love life and other stuff.

When in Rome epitomizes your “one hit wonder”. They are known by a majority for one song, “The Promise”. A three-piece with two lead singers, both of whom are with the group. Clive Farrington and Andrew Mann played off each other well as they shared lead vocals during their three song set, finishing of course with “The Promise”.

Berlin was next with easily the best set of the night. Lead singer Teri Nunn is still gorgeous as she led her band through a number of songs I personally knew. Her set was the second longest of the night and along with A Flock of Seagulls, were the only bands on the bill to play a new song. Berlin has a new album coming out early next year and features the original band. Of the seven bands on the bill Berlin was the one only with a number one song, and it wasn’t even their finale. A majority of the songs came off Pleasure Victim. They started the night with “No More Words” from Love Life before going into “The Metro”, followed by a new single, “Take My Breath Away”, finishing the night with “Sex, I’m A…”. Nunn was in charge and electric dancing around the stage, going side to side, even greeting fans on the front row. Berlin cranked up the energy and intensity by many notches.

Up next to keep the good times rolling was Wang Chung. And yes, everyone had fun this night. Wang Chung is basically Jack Hues and Nick Feldman (lead singer and bass). They are one of the ‘80s bands I’ve seen more than a handful of times and it never gets boring. I have a funny story when Jack and I were “celebrity judges” at a swimsuit competition at a club were they were a part of another ‘80s package tour 20 years ago. None of the girls were that attractive, which Jack pointed out to me. We toasted each other laughed and drank more beer to see if that would make them more attractive. But I digress. All but one of their big songs were part of the set. “Let’s Go”, “Dancehall Days” and “Everybody Have Fun” were there, which has become their signature song since the lyrics instruct you to “Wang Chung tonight”. Missing to my dismay was “To Live And Die In LA” from the movie, which is probably my favorite song of theirs.

Onward we went and Naked Eyes were next. I’v seen one-hit wonders lists like on Mojo that categorize Naked Eyes as a one-hit wonder. To set the record they are a two-hit wonder. Granted, I know more. Their biggest hit for all is “Always Something There to Remind Me”. The Burt Bacharach and Hal David composition was a hit for four artists in the ‘60s charting three times in the US before Naked Eyes put a synth pop spin on it. Back in 1983 it peaked at 8 on the Billboard charts. That was quickly followed with an original composition, “Promises, Promises” both off their debut album, Burning Bridges. It peaked at 11 on the charts. To their credit they had two other Top 40 singles (barely). “When the Lights Go Out” peaked at 39 and “(What) In the Name of Love” peaked at 39 the following year. Unfortunately after that second album the two went their separate ways. Keyboardist Rob Fisher went on to form another duo, Climie Fisher that had two charting singles in the late ‘80s. Unfortunately Fisher passed away in 1999 while working on new Naked Eyes material with former partner Pete Burns. Burns kept the name going and has been touring as Naked Eyes since 2001. By what I’ve written you should be able to guess what songs he (Naked Eyes) this evening.

Finishing the night out was A Flock of Seagulls. Mike Score was up to the task as he led his band through the longest set of the evening. Long gone is he wild “seagull” hair as the lead singer/keyboard player sports a clean shaven look, bu the voice is the same. The band was tight. It’s Score with a touring band. Back home and in the studio after all these years the original lineup is back together. The crowd came to life during their set that included “Wishing (If I Had A Photograph of You)”, “The More You Live The More You Love”, “Space Age Love Song”, as well as new material. Much to my chagrin and probably Mike Score’s most people know only the MTV songs, which are great, not even realizing he has new material, both with AFOS but solo work as well. He of course finished the night with “I Ran” as those still in attendance – a lot of Millennials, danced and raised hell. Score’s voice sounded a little irritated, that being my personal opinion because I think he’s getting a little tired of playing “that” song and people don’t put much more into the rest of the band’s catalog. You can’t blame him as he’s had to play that song every night he’s performed with the band or solo for 36 years now – longer than a lot the people in the crowd have been alive.

“Lost ‘80s Live!” was great. You missed out if you missed. But you’re lucky in the sense that a lot of bands like these are being packaged and coming soon to a venue near you. Don’t miss your chance to “Want your MTV”.

– Dave Weinthal