80’s Weekend #6 with:
BLONDIE, ADAM ANT, BERLIN, MARC ALMOND & THOMAS DOLBY
The Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, CA – 7/28/18.
The Microsoft Theater in LA has been hosting a series of “80’s Weekends” featuring some of the biggest stars from one of the best decades of music! (At least if you’re in my age group, or simply have great taste in music :). Past acts have included, Boy George, Human League, Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet), Howard Jones and many others.
Judging by the crowds entering the venue, it was an opportunity for a lot of people to relive their youth. Crimped hair wigs, stone washed Jeans, “Relax” shirts, and even one young lady who resembled Olivia Newton John from her “Physical” video, complete with feathered hair and leg warmers.
Tonight’s lineup was of particular interest to me as all of the bands originated in the late 70’s. I knew that each Hit that I heard was going to take me back to a place in time (my early teens) that was exciting, carefree and full of promise…
Thomas Dolby kicked off the evening with a short 4 song set that set the tone for the evening. The 80’s synth wizard, took center stage with just his keyboard to dazzle the crowd with his technical prowess and in reality, to hit us with that one song that everyone wanted to hear, “She Blinded Me With Science“.
Thomas told a few stories in between tunes; One of those being about his uncle, Stephen Spring-Rice, who was a submarine crew member during WWII who died along with the whole crew during maneuvers. This being the inspiration for his song “One Of Our Submarines“. ]Thomas was just informed that they would be able to recover the remains of the sub which was sunk off of Tunisia and return his uncle’s remain to the family.
Dolby also talked about having renowned Scientist, Magnus Pike appear on the song and video for his biggest hit, “She Blinded Me With Science” which finished off the short set.
Marc Almond from Soft Cell was up next. Mark also had a 4 song set that allowed him two of his solo efforts as well as two of Soft Cell’s hits.
After “Tears Run Rings” and “The Idol“, the crowd rose to their feet and helped Marc sign the Gloria Jones song, made famous by Soft Cell, “Tainted Love“.
Marc’s stage setup was simple, with just a guitarist, two back up singers, and a keyboardist to handle most of the instrumental heavy lifting.
If I had one gripe about this set (And it wasn’t Marc’s Fault), how about not having commercials play on the video screen through most of the set? It’s a bit jarring to see a huge Burger Joint Ad cover the stage while the artist is signing his heart out.
Berlin were my favorite act of the evening. Given a little bit more stage time than Thomas and Marc, Berlin made every second count and played a 7 song set that had the Microsoft Theater rocking!
Kicking off with two of their biggest hits didn’t hurt as they opened with “No More Words“, and then “The Metro“.
Tonight’s show was extra special for the Berlin faithful as, has happened occasionally over the years, past members, Ric Olsen (guitar) and founding member and songwriter, John Crawford were on hand to join the festivities.
And how the hell have I not mentioned Terri Nunn yet?! Terri was fantastic! She sounded amazing and still looks incredible. Her personality shines through and she has an ability to pull a crowd in and MAKE them have fun! She certainly took my breath away…(I’ll get my coat…) But speaking of “Take My Breath Away“, during the song she hitched a ride on (I believe) her husband’s shoulders to sing the Top Gun hit among the crowd.
Terri (self proclaimed that she’s) “Everyone’s Favorite Nunn” concluded the set by playing her favorite religious song and with that ripped into AC/DC’s, “Highway To Hell“.
Terri along with regular bandmates, Carlton Bost (Guitars), Chris Olivas (Drums), and Dave Schulz (Keyboards) tour regularly and should be a do not miss show if you haven’t caught them in recent times.
Much like Blondie, I always thought of Adam Ant as an undefinable artist. He and The Ants came up as a new wave/punk act in the beginning and that confused me, because these songs didn’t seem to belong in the same category as The Sex Pistols, Stiff Little Fingers or The Ramones, who always seemed more underground and “Dangerous” to me. The onset of MTV and all those memorable videos followed and firmly ensconced Adam as part of the household lexicon.
Well, long gone are the Ants. Adam took off on his own in the early 80’s releasing six albums with varying degrees of success. Within the past decade he has had a resurgence of such. His last release, 2013’s “Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter“, was met with decent to mixed response, but it returned Adam’s name to the music masses and he has been touring steadily since.
Adam Ant was the artist on the bill that most people were talking about prior to and after the show. The crowd ate up every second of his set. He packed it all in; The look, the double (triple, quadruple!) drumming, the costume and most of all, his greatest hits.
I was always more the casual fan and I felt his set took a while to catch it’s groove. I was in the minority though. People were up dancing and singing along. I had notice a few people in the crowd with the familiar white band across their nose that Adam painted on in his younger days. He’s certainly an entertainer. He danced, interacted and grimaced at the crowd and they ate it all up.
The band he has assembled are great and fun to watch. They add a robust sound making the old “Antmusic” new again.
Blondie provided the soundtrack to every lonely disco I ever attended. Of course I wasn’t dancing to these gems. And in reality I didn’t really “attend”. It was more of a standing-outside-holding-a-bottle-of-Strongbow-cider (bought by the first passer by who would go into the Fern Lodge Off-license in return for keeping the change) type-of-situation for this underage, lout of a boy… But I digress… As much of Metal Head as I was (And am), there are many songs throughout ones life that place a pin on a moment in time. And I can’t hear “The Tide Is High” without flashing back to that little youth center in Rathcoole, N. Ireland, that’s now a block of Flats.
Much like Adam Ant, I know Blondie was considered part of the New Wave/Punk movement of the late 70’s, but I always saw them as an eclectic band that didn’t really belong to any genre. There were elements of Reggae, Rock, and even Rap (Rapture being the first “rap” song to top the charts as well as the first “rap” video to be played on MTV), but as with most 80’s bands of the day, I just saw them all as pop acts.
Well here we are in 2018 and what made Blondie work then, is what makes Blondie work now. At 73 years old, Deborah Harry defies time. She is the heartbeat of the band and her personality and voice are driving their music well into the 2000’s. Adorned in a pink shirt with large black belt and a white cape with multi colored, Neon polka dots, and the words “Stop Fucking The Planet” on it, Debbie Harry hasn’t shied away from anything. A vocal opponent of President Trump, her encore of the Bond theme “From Russia With Love” could be seen as proof that the antagonistic roots of the punk queen haven’t died down a bit.
Last year’s “Pollinator” album is proof that Blondie are still relevant, as their first single “Fun” reached #1 on the US Dance charts. But this evening wasn’t dedicated to the now, it was relishing the then…and the hits-heavy set was just what everyone wanted. The Pollinator “Buzz” swarmed the stage as the band kicked off with “One Way Or Another” which led to a trip through every one of their hits, “Hanging On The Telephone“, “Call Me“, “Rapture“, “The Tide Is High” (interlaced with a snippet of Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is In The Heart” which I could have done without) and of course “Heart Of Glass“.
Even though each act had their fans, I would say a majority of the crowd were here to see Blondie as was apparent by the overwhelming number of old school Blondie t-shirts in the crowd. And those fans, stood and sang every word.
Half of the band are the same people that created the Blondie sound and recorded the songs we all know. Debbie Harry (vocals), Chris Stein (guitar) and the ageless, Clem Burke (drums).
The other current members now include, Leigh Fox (bass), Matt Katz-Bohen (keyboards) and newest member, Tommy Kessler (guitar), who let loose an amazing, blistering solo on “Atomic“
Blondie’s set was great! It’s why these themed festivals and cruises are doing so well. I honestly can’t say I would have gone to see Blondie by themselves if they weren’t part of this lineup. And now that I’ve seen them, I would definitely make sure I grabbed a ticket to see them play again. Not just for the old songs, but for the amazing musicianship…and well… yes… for a chance to be transported back in my memories via all those old songs.
As mentioned this was the 6th 80’s Weekend show and during Saturday’s concert the absent Richard Blade, via pre-taped video, announced the lineup for the 7th show set to take place in January, 2019.
The acts featured will be:
When In Rome (U.K)
I look forward to being there to take another trip down memory lane.