Saturday, August 16, 2008
The best word to describe the Regeneration Tour’s stop in SLC is “efficient”. Four bands keeping a tight time schedule. This was an example of professionals conducting business.
The show began promptly at 7 with Naked Eyes getting right to the point by leading off with “Always Something There To Remind Me”, lest anyone forgot who they were. They did eight songs in 35 minutes. Show over. Fifteen minutes later, ABC comes on stage. Same thing, eight songs in 35 minutes. Show over. Fifteen minutes later, Belinda Carlisle comes out. Again, eight songs in 35 minutes. Finally, the Human League took 30 minutes to take the stage. They did ten songs in 45 minutes. Evening over by 10:30. You figure each band had to pocket a couple grand each. How do I get a job making all that money for 35 minutes of work? Oh, maybe I do that already, actually.
Aside from Belinda, I’ve been a huge fan of all involved for as long as I’ve known what pop music was. In fact, “…There To Remind Me” and “Don’t You Want Me Baby” are some of the first songs I remember taking notice of and ABC has steadily climbed to near the top of my list of all-time faves. There was no way I could pass this night up, even if it meant driving from Denver to Salt Lake City to see it. Unfortunately, A Flock Of Seagulls were supposed to be there, but weren’t. I never heard why.
Luckily, I’ve seen the bands I wanted to see previously. So, while the short set lists were kind of a bummer, at least I know I’ve seen them do their thing before. For not being a fan of Belinda, or the Go-Go’s really, her set was a pleasant surprise, mostly because it was the only one that was new. She still looks great. Slightly thicker, but still hot.
Naked Eyes sound the exact same as they always have. Led by Pete Byrne (collaborator Rob Fisher died nine years ago), they ran through all 3 of their top 40 hits, “…Remind…”, “When The Lights Go Out” and “Promises Promises”. He sounds just the same. He pulled out a few of the cult faves, for those of us who have been paying attention to their lesser known hits. Same thing with ABC. “Be Near Me”, “The Look Of Love” and “When Smokey Sings” were all accounted for, as well as a couple new tracks. Front man Martin Fry remains one of the classiest acts in rock. He’s battled back from cancer to look as debonair as ever.
Belinda played all the songs I knew, but never liked. “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” and “Mad About You” as well as a couple Go-Go’s classics. And finally, the Human League trotted out all their usuals too, like “Fascination”, “Mirror Man”, “Human” and “Tell Me When”. They are an especially good time. Leader Phil Oakey roams the stage going from point to point, almost like he’s on a calorie burning regimen. For a band that created such great dance songs, he doesn’t appear to have much in the way of moves. Meanwhile, the girls, Susan and Joanne, remain on either side of the stage wiggling their hips and flirting with the crowds. All of the artists look great, considering they’re each around 50.
When I tell people who I saw, most of them know the names, but can’t place the songs. They know enough to know it’s been years since they were big, so they usually crinkle their noses or laugh. The truth is, you’d probably know at least 2/3 of the songs that were played that night. Between the four of them, they’re responsible for around 20-25 top 40 hits. Granted, none in the last 15-20 years, but each song remains a staple of life’s background music.
All in all, it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Get some good friends and let loose. I hope they do something similar every summer. Maybe pull together a different collection of bands. Maybe I’ll quit my job and manage it. That could easily be my life’s calling.