Jack Fm’s Lost 80’s Live Featuring:
Christopher Anton of Information Society, The Flirts, Dramarama, Tommy Tutone, Naked Eyes, Nick Van Eede of Cutting Crew, Wang Chung, Clive Farrington of When In Rome, Berlin and
Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet
You know how you usually have to sit through an hour of music to hear a certain band’s one hit? That wasn’t the case last night at local radio station Jack FM’s Lost 80’s Live concert at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie. They had ten different performers play just their hit songs during an almost three hour show!!!
No one wants to go first on a big night like this because with the early start, the still filtering in audience would be rather small. However; Christopher Anton of Information Society fame made the most of the first spot. His really quick three song set kicked off with a great ABBA cover song (“Lay All Your Love on Me”), followed by two songs from his band: the hypnotic “Walking Away” and the upbeat classic “What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy)”. The latter really got the crowd pumped up and was a good sign of what was to come throughout the rest of the show.
Before the evening began I honestly did not remember The Flirts but after a few notes of “Jukebox (Don’t Put Another Dime)” – the memories came rushing back. With an ever-changing cast of lead singers (usually one redhead, one blonde and one brunette), the three singers strutted around the stage in what looked like Navy Admiral jackets singing at the top of their lungs. Ripping those jackets off to reveal Wonder Woman-like tops just before launching into “Danger” – the ladies seemed to be having the time of their lives up on stage. Alas, the part ended too soon for them as they only did two songs but we would see them again.
Putting some rock-n-roll into the festivities, Dramarama stepped out onto the stage and ripped into an up-tempo set that included such hits as “Haven’t Got a Clue”, “Scenario”, “Last Cigarette” and their most popular tune – “Anything, Anything”. John Easdale hasn’t lost a step as the singer out front and his energy & antics were enormously vibrant. Their garage rock frenzied playing was great throughout and the audience really seemed to get into it.
Not leaving the stage just yet, the members of Dramarama stuck around as the band for Tommy Tutone’s short set. Frontman Tommy Heath was just as much fun today as he was back in the 80’s while he swiftly strolled through three songs with similar titles. 1980’ “Angel” was short & sweet, “Sylvia” is a new song of his and then the most popular phone number of all time was shouted out during “Jenny. He had a little help during the last one by a couple of The Flirts and the audience finally started participating in the show a little bit.
Naked Eyes brought something totally different to the party = a soulful, relaxed vibe that floated throughout the great Verizon Theatre. The supercool sax intro to “Voices in My Head” highlighted the sweet vocals of Pete Byrne as he finely strummed an amplified acoustic guitar. With the audience warming up to their sound, they got the crowd up dancing during “(What) In the Name of Love”; singing out loud to “Promises, Promises” and clapping their hands during the “country” tune (There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me”.
Cutting Crew is just lead singer Nick Van Eede now but with the musicians from the next band playing for him, the old songs sounded just like new. His vocals were a little bit light during “Any Colour”, but he found his voice and excelled in “I’ve Been In Love Before” and their hit song “(I Just) Died in Your Arms”. He looked like he was having the time of his life and the band helped him immensely through the short set.
The party stepped up another notch when Wang Chung tore into “Let’s Go” from their 1986 album Mosaic. The infectious tune had the audience dancing & singing their hearts out just before they threw everyone a curve by playing “Hypnotize Me” from the same album and the 1987 soundtrack to the movie Innerspace. To their defense, they did preface it by saying they hadn’t played it in twenty years but it sounded good to me. Cranking out their top two hits ever, Wang Chung played “Dance Hall Days” & “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” to roaring approval from the audience.
The oddest performance of the evening went to When in Rome UK which is just actually lead singer Clive Farrington with a drummer & keyboardist. The set consisted of one extended, extended version of their 1988 smash hit “The Promise” with Clive milling about the stage looking disinterested with the whole thing as the audience tried to make sense of it all. He did sound good at times but the overall effect of the song was minimal in comparison to all of the hard work the previous bands had been putting out.
Luckily for us, the next lead singer was here to have a good time and a good time was had by all during Berlin’s set. Terri Nunn is still a spitfire of a singer and her constant smiling & upbeat ways had a great effect on all in attendance. Starting it off with the sultry “No More Words”, she was all over the stage while her band did all they could to keep up with her. The way-too-cool song “The Metro” was next and with the old video playing up on the big screens, Terri made this one the highlight of my night!!! Not done yet, the 56 year old Nunn belted her way through 2013’s sex-charged “Animal” hitting all of the high notes and stepping down into the audience to sing the ending. The slow ballad “Take My Breath Away” sounded beautiful and gave us the only proper standing ovation of the night. Finishing off her set giving props to Jack FM for playing it – she sang the controversial “Sex (I’m A…)” duet style with her guitarist as she danced barefoot all about the stage.
Finishing off the wonderful evening of 80’s music was none other than Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet. He oozed coolness back in the day and he did everything he could to muster up that same affection. While the crowd had thinned out a bit (come on – it was almost 10:30 on a work night), Tony crooned his way through his eight song set with gusto. The David Bowie cover “Life on Mars?” was an interesting opener, while “Only When You Leave” and “Lifeline” were classic Spandau. He does still sound very good (looks quite dapper as well), but the audience continued to get smaller by the song. By the time he finished his set off with their best known hits “True” (simply awesome) and “Gold” (better than I remembered) – I believe the audience had finally had enough of their trip down memory lane.
All in all, it was an enjoyable evening of 80’s music at the Verizon Theatre with an incredible host like Jack FM leading the way. The format of having each band play just a few songs was brilliant and I think that the audience enjoyed dancing, singing and remembering the good times. It’s a great concept – one I hope they strive to achieve year after year with new bands each time. If you were there, I know you had a great time and if you missed it = don’t make the same mistake next time.