Concert Review: Lost 80’s Live at Pompano Beach Amphitheater

You may recall that some of the most iconic bands that emerged during the ’80s were one-hit wonders, while others achieved greater success, becoming two- or even three-hit wonders and became part of the emergence of new wave, pop, punk, and ska music movements of that time. On Friday, September 9, a nostalgic British invasion (an ’80s version, not the ’60s) made its way to South Florida, comprised of a several of the more recognizable names from that era, came to the Pompano Beach Amphitheater for Lost 80’s Live, a nostalgic program of hit music on a steamy summer night.

Concertgoers consisted of mostly over-50s came to have fun and try their best to relive the concert experiences of their youth. Some came dressed in the Material Girl Madonna-esque fashion, while one guy was the spitting image of Adam Ant, war paint and all.

The crowd appeared a little older, a little greyer, and even a little softer in the midsection as is the case for those of us who fit that age demographic. The show was about having fun, reconnecting with the bands that became such an important part of their formative teenage years. For some it was recalling their first concert, where it was and when. While those faint memories became a topic of ice-breaking conversation among strangers, most of the crowd settled into their seats excited to see how these bands endured time, how they looked and sounded several decades after their MTV videos appeared. With several bands playing within a few hours’ time, the set lists were condensed to a handful of each band’s most recognized tunes.

Mike Score – Photo by: Rick Munroe

Things didn’t start as many had hoped. Before entering the amphitheater, a hand-written sign posted at the gate indicated that Musical Youth and Missing Persons, two of the seven bands on the bill, would not be performing. Quite disappointing. While I could have lived without Musical Youth and their lone hit song, 1982’s “Pass the Dutchie,” I was dismayed that Missing Persons was not there, either; it has been four decades since last seeing the L.A.-based band in 1982.

Stacey Q – Photo by: Rick Munroe

With a light early-arriving crowd settling into their seats at the 7 p.m. start time, show opener Stacey Q got the evocative night off to a great start with a melodic, friendly version of her most-recognized tunes that included “Insecurity,” “Dancing Nowhere,” “Synthicide,” and “We Connect” before closing out her set with 1986 radio-hit “Two of Hearts.” She appeared happy to be there, smiling and dancing like a ballerina from all corners of the stage and engaging in banter and good-natured jokes with the crowd. Unfortunately her vocal quality wasn’t great, and she was supported by backing tracks that sounded more karaoke than anything else. Regardless of her less-than-spectacular vocals, she entertained those who caught her early set and got people out of their seats, gyrating side-to-side and singing along to Stacey Q’s one widely popular song before thanking the crowd, reminding them to have a great time.

Pete Byrne – Photo by: Rick Munroe

Next up were longtime new wave pop rockers Naked Eyes. The band was formed in 1982 and includes original vocalist Pete Byrne, who performed a spirited set, moving about the stage like a man half his age. Byrne’s immersive and enthusiastic vocal performance warmed up the crowd, getting them dancing in place as he got into several of the band’s radio hits, “(What) In the Name of Love,” “Voices in My Head,” “Piccadilly,” and “Promises, Promises” and closing his five-song set with 1983 smash-hit “Always Something There to Remind Me.”

Dave Wakeling – Photo by: Rick Munroe
Antonee First Class – Photo by: Rick Munroe

As the sun set, the later-arriving crowd began to fill in many of the remaining empty seats that were apparent during the first two performances, many toting just-purchased concert t-shirts from the merch stand along with mixed drinks and cold beer that may have served as the catalyst to get the crowd in the mood. Next was ska/reggae band The English Beat taking the stage, long been devoid of its original band members with the exception of lead vocalist Dave Wakeling. Wakeling still sounds great while having a grand time rocking out on his guitar. He along with longtime toaster Antonee First Class, who himself sounds a lot like former lead vocalist and frontman Ranking Roger, did a superb job of providing the vocals. While it is quite common for these nostalgic bands to have one or even no original members, trying to sound like they did in 1978 is nearly impossible, and the crowd understood. The English Beat’s vibrant performance was what really got the night going and got the tepid crowd to the next level. The eight-piece band wasted no time getting into “Save It for Later,” “Tenderness,” and “I’ll Do It for You” before closing their short set with 1980’s “Mirror in the Bathroom.”

Jack Hues – Photo by: Rick Munroe
Nick Feldman – Photo by: Rick Munroe

Next, Wang Chung was surprisingly wonderful. Lead vocalist Jack Hues and bassist Nick Feldman are a spirited, well-matched duo, and their zeal is infectious. While many know them as a pop band, Feldman had no trouble showing off his guitar skills, shredding and rocking out the crowd. Hues and Feldman, along with the rest of the band, quickly got into a set of their very best tunes including “Wait,” “Let’s Go,” “I Never Want to Love You in a Half Hearted Way,” “Rent Free,” and “Dance Hall Days.” The horde of fans approved by clapping and cheering the band after each song. They were clearly having fun, singing and gyrating to every beat that Wang Chung generated. For some, the return to the ’80s provided a brief respite from life’s everyday grind, a chance to relive their youth even if for just a couple of hours. Wang Chung closed out their six-song set with the catchy 1986 tune “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” that got everyone dancing in place while others captured the moment on their phones.

With the crowd now primed and full of vim and vigor, A Flock of Seagulls took the stage and opened with “The More You Live, the More You Love” from the band’s 1984 studio album The Story of a Young Heart. Not surprising was that frontman Mike Score no longer sports his famous “waterfall” haircut as he did during the band’s early years. The Flock plays its songs with enthusiasm. Standing behind his keyboard, Score and the band got the crowd closest to the stage out of their chairs and dancing; in the upper level, fans appeared to dance while seated, moving from side-to-side. Score has never been a particularly strong singer and is more on par as vocal phasing while belting out the lyrics. However, credit to Score for actually performing live and not using vocal tracks like so many nostalgic bands do to satisfy the paying public who want to hear the song sound like it did on the album decades earlier. People didn’t seem to mind the casual vocals because the rest of the band, comprised of bassist Patrick Villalpando, guitarist Gordon Deppe, and drummer Kevin Rankin, are a highly talented group of musicians and deserve their credit. It was Villapando who engaged the crowd, asking them to move down to get closer to the stage while Rankin pounded relentlessly on the drums. Score seemed disengaged with the audience and remained steadfast at playing his keyboard and working through the show. The band continued with better-known tunes “Say You Love Me,” “Telecommunication,” “Space Age Love Song,” and “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You),” which rocked steady until the band closed the set with their most recognized top-10 hit, “I Ran (So Far Away).” “I Ran” was the song that everyone came to hear, and A Flock of Seagulls rewarded them with a great overall performance, full of energy and enthusiasm, knowing it was the final song of the night.

Gordon Deppe – Photo by: Rick Munroe
Kevin Rankin – Photo by: Rick Munroe

As the tour moves on to their next destination, it is clear that there still is a demand for live music from what remains of many bands. The crowd had a great time; it was a chance to connect with old friends or perhaps make new ones. Those who attended had the opportunity to sing, dance, and relive moments from their youth. Lost 80’s Live works, and despite two bands not showing up, the majority of fans got what they came for: a night of great music. The mix of bands worked well, and credit to show promoter Richter Entertainment Group for staging several great shows in South Florida this year.

 

 

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