Friday night at the Hollywood Bowl was a walk back in time to a place where things were far simpler. Bow Wow Wow, The Motels, The Psychedelic Furs and the Go-Gos took the stage for a musical revival of the 1980’s Friday night. The show was called for 7 p.m, which in Los Angeles means 8:30, but not on Friday. Bow Wow Wow was gone by the time we got to our seats at 7:30 which was a bummer since that was the one band on the bill I was excited to see.
The remaining bands more than made up for it. The show was nearly sold out but we found plenty of empty seats in the first row of the Super Seats so we had a pretty decent unobstructed view. While the show was nearly sold out, the 2nd closure of the 405 Freeway this weekend appeared to cause alot of people to rethink driving to Hollywood as there were plenty of open seats.
There was a bit of 1980’s nostalgia amongst the crowd including the “Go Go’s” look alikes featured above. The gentleman with the mustache indicated he was Belinda Carlisle that night. Dead ringer. The crowd seemed a bit tired and lethargic through the Motels and Furs sets. The Motels played a short set which featured a handful of their well known hits. Of the 3 bands I saw The Motels were my least favorite. Lead singer Martha Davis’s voice seemed drained and strained, the band uninspired and the pace was slow. But for those who came to see the Motels they got their money’s worth.
Following the Motels, the Psychedelic Furs turned in a much stronger and more well received set. Lead singer Richard Butler’s raspy voice was strong and they carried a nice performance which included their seminal 1980’s hit “Pretty in Pink” from the iconic 80’s film of the same name.
I truly had no expecations about the Go-Go’s going into this show. I never saw them in the 80’s and always thought of them as a bubble gum pop act. While they did steer their career away from their punk rock roots into the realm of power pop, the Go-Go’s have serious musical chops.
The Go-Go’s roots are firmly etched in the Los Angeles punk scene of the late 1970’s. Lead singer Belinda Carlisle was a founding member of legendary L.A punk band “The Germs” and was the band’s original drummer. She later moved out of the drummer’s chair and became the band’s publicist before forming the Go-Go’s. She drank with Keith Moon, fooled around with David Lee Roth and stalked Freddy Mercury with Darby Crash as a teen.
When the Go-Go’s finally rounded out their classic lineup of Carlisle, Jane Weidlin, Kathy Valentine, Charlote Caffee, and Gina Schock they were learning their chops and sharing studio space with L.A punk champions, X. While X stayed true to their punk rock roots and still remain a strong and viable touring act they never sold records like the Go Go’s did. The Go Go’s freshman album went Triple Platinum while X, the Germs and other L.A punk acts slipped under the commerical waves.
As a live act, it was evident that the gals in The Go-Go’s can seriously play. Their performance on Friday night was as tight a set list as I have seen all year. For a band that does not tour regularly or have recorded anything in many years I was duly impressed. It was pretty clear from listening to them live, that the Go-Gos could have easily gone in a power punk direction, which is where they were headed. As a result of that decision they then went on to become Icons of the 80’s that retain a large enough following to pack the Hollywood Bowl more than 30 years after they broke.
Though the band flamed out after just a few albums, as so many other bands that broke in the early to mid 80s did, they retain their core lineup and put on a musically spirited and entertaining show. The Go-Gos deserve their place at the table of Los Angeles rock royalty.