Apart from the fact that I am kicking myself for not taking my camera into the concert (which was perfectly OK to do), tonights concert was like a dream come true for me. Several months ago, I was browsing through the Pollstar website (http://pollstar.com), when I saw that several of my favorite bands of the 80's were coming to town, as part of the REGENERATION TOUR (http://regenerationtour.com/). Not only were there several of my favorite bands, but they were bands that I had NEVER SEEN! For someone who has seen hundreds of bands/artists play, this was like a dream come true.
At first I was worried, because I had seen the show listed on Pollstar, but I hadn't heard any other promotion. When I would see listings of all the Usana Amphitheater concerts, this particular show was absent. Why, I don't know. Finally, about a month and a half ago, I would see it listed. I was hoping that the show would draw a significant amount of people, but was a little skeptical. Having worked in a local music retail store, I knew that people absolutely LOVED the 80's... at least fifteen years ago. As my generation has gotten older, apparently their love of seeing 80's music live has diminished.
As I had earlier predicted, there was a weekend where the concert tickets were being sold for $10.00 a piece. That was when I jumped on the opportunity. Just last year, Tiffany and I had seen ZZ Top, The Pretenders and The Stray Cats, for the same low price. As ironic as it is, we got reserved seats for $10.00 each, while our neighbors (who purchased early) got lawn seats (a significantly further vantage point) for $35.00. Go Mr. and Mrs. Zeke!
I've forgotten to properly introduce you to the Regeneration line-up. As you can see by the ticket stub, Naked Eyes, ABC, Belinda Carlisle and The Human League were playing. Oh, where was Dead or Alive, you ask? Apparently Pete Burns was recuperating from some kind of surgery. I don't even want to know what kind of surgery he had. Look at the before and after pictures of Mr. Burns (http://unclezekesmusicemporium.blogspot.com/2008/04/post-42-80s-fans-tis-your-year.html)
to see what I mean. Anyhow, they were absent from the tour. Was I worried? Not in the slightest. I used to like Dead or Alive back in the early 80's, before "You Spin Me Round" became a radio and dance club staple, but really grew tired of the cowbell driven club sound. Now don't get me wrong, people... I've got a fever, and the only prescription is MORE COWBELL. Unless it's Dead or Alive.
So, anyhow, back to the show. A few days after I purchased the $10.00 tickets, I received a blank envelope in the mail. In it, were two VIP tickets to the Regeneration Tour, as well as a VIP parking ticket. At Usana Amphitheater, this is a pretty big deal. Not only are you close to the stage, but the parking problem is nonexistent. My two earlier Usana shows (Journey/Heart/Cheap Trick and The Police/Elvis Costello) were riddled with parking nightmares. You get 14,000 people in a venue, and there is bound to be a traffic jam. Anyhow, where these tickets had come from remained a mystery. I assumed they had come from my bank, as the ticket stated my bank's name. As recently as two days ago, I still didn't know the origin of those tickets. I checked with the ticket agent, they didn't know. I asked Usana people, they didn't know. It wasn't until the announcement that the show was being moved to The Depot (a more intimate indoor venue, with the ability to house 1200 people) that I discovered where those VIP tickets had come from. BUT, at the same time, I had found out that the VIP tickets were no longer valid, due to the venue change. Fortunately, several attempts at getting rid of my previous tickets had failed, and we still had our original tickets.
And, tonight was the night to finally use them. Starting promptly at 7:00, Naked Eyes hit the stage. I should probably call them Naked Eye, as there is only one of the original Eyes playing with the band. The sad thing, is that the duo of Pete Byrne and Rob Fisher had planned on reuniting back in 1999, and picking up where they had left off (in 1985), when Rob Fisher passed away due to complications from a surgery. Pete Byrne has continued, and has done a great job carrying on the legacy of the band. Now with a backup band of 5 musicians, Naked Eyes opened the show with "Always Something There To Remind Me", the old Burt Bacharach/Hal David song. Probably their biggest hit, but one of their most "burned out" songs. I heard the songs I wanted to hear (Promises, Promises, When The Lights Go Out and (What)In The Name of Love), and was satisfied with their great, but short, set.
Next to the stage was Martin Fry and ABC. I have always loved ABC, even when they strayed into the foray of near cartoonish music, back in 1985. Their debut album, "THE LEXICON OF LOVE" is one of my favorite albums of the 80's. Although their follow-up, "BEAUTY STAB" strayed from the flawless production of "Lexicon", it still had some strong music. "HOW TO BE A MILLIONAIRE" was the album that made it hard to be a loyal follower. The cartoonish attitude of the band, including Mark White and his curious curl up over his forehead, and the addition of a short, bald guy, and a tall woman, didn't help. The most disturbing thing is that the latter two characters did NOT even play on the album. They were there solely for image. I had even read an interview with Martin Fry, where he stated that the music wasn't as important as the image. It crushed me, yet the album still had some strong songs. "Be Near Me", being the biggest hit. Their follow-up album, "ALPHABET CITY" was refreshing, as they returned to a New Romantic image, and the core of the band was Mark White and Martin Fry. Maybe it was the fact that I purchased this tape while serving an LDS mission (you get starved for good music, so you are easily satisfied), or it was just the fact the album was good. Supposedly Martin had fought (and won) a battle with cancer, and it made him re-evaluate his music. Either way, I was still on board. It wasn't until the early 90's that I stopped paying attention. BUT, I still loved the thought of seeing them in concert. And so I did, this very evening.
Featuring a back-up band of 6 or 7 individuals, the band was tight, and dare I say, Martin Fry was absolutely, 100% on TOP OF HIS GAME. Wearing a black suit, complete with black tie and shiny cuff links, it was like he transported straight from 1982. His hair was the same (okay, maybe a tad bit thin), his look and demeanor were the same. His voice was FLAWLESS. It was as if I had seen the band in their prime... except there was no saxophone. But who's complaining? Not me.
Third up was Belinda Carlisle. As could be expected, Belinda performed her hit singles, and even drew a chuckle when she introduced "Circles in the Sand", by calling it the song that you hear in elevators and grocery stores. She said that she knew she had "made it", when she began hearing her songs in the grocery stores. In addition to all her singles, she even treated us with a couple of songs from her other project... a little band called, The Go-Go's... including, "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "Vacation". She may be in her mid to late 40's, but she's just as spunky as she ever was.
Last, but not least, was The Human League. Where ABC and Belinda Carlisle had shared instruments (and most of the backing band), the stage was completely torn down in preparation for The Human League. I overheard comments about how people were surprised that The Human League was selected to headline, but it was no big revelation to me. The Human League had been recording since the late 70's, and was three albums into their career, before breaking into the US charts with "Don't You Want Me, Baby" in 1980. The bands instruments looked very retro, yet extremely modern, at the same time. Before the band took the stage, it almost looked like something you would expect from a Kraftwerk show. I almost expected four robotic looking Germans to take the stage. When the band took stage, the core trio of The Human League was still present. You had your Philip Oakey, you had your Susanne Sulley, and you had your Joanne Catherall. Philip Oakey took the stage looking like something out of The Matrix, with a black coat that went nearly to the floor, a shaved head, and some bob-bitchin' sunglasses. He was the definition of cool. By the end of the show, he was down to a black pair of slacks, white dress shirt, black skinny tie, and some white suspenders that were not really attached. Still, the definition of cool. As for Joanne and Susanne, they did there part very well. They had changed a little, physically, umm... looking more their ages, but who notices such things? Who, me? I'm not THAT shallow, am I? I can't talk... I'm looking more my age. But that's a different story...
The Human League played all their biggest hits. HUMAN, (KEEP FEELING) FASCINATION, THE LEBANON, LOVE ACTION, SECONDS, and we were even treated to an encore of the band doing the Philip Oakey/Georgio Moroder collaboration, "ELECTRIC DREAMS", taken from the movie of the same name.
Out of the entire concert, there were only three songs that I didn't recognize. First, a song from a forthcoming Naked Eyes album. The truly beautiful thing about this song, is that not only was it good, but it was co-written by Rob Fisher, before he passed away... as was most of the album. So, nine years later, the efforts of this talented music are finally coming to life. Apart from that song, ABC performed a couple newer songs, that I was not familiar with. Maybe I should be paying more attention.
Anyhow, to sum this up, this is BY FAR, the best $10.00 I have spent in a long time. Well, counting my lovely wife's ticket, and service charges, the best $28.00 I have spent in a long time.
I appreciated the change in venue, although losing the VIP seats, because it was much more intimate. We were only 20-30 feet from the stage, and had a great view the entire time. I took some pictures with my cell phone, that probably don't look great, but I am having a hard time getting them transferred to my computer. If I get that done, then I will post some of those pictures. In the meantime, enjoy my ticket stub!
Now playing: Human League - Hard Times