September 10, 2014 Retro Futura Tour 2014 electrifies Pennysaver Amphitheater Farmingville, NY 8-23-14
Back in 2008 the 80’s-themed Regeneration Tour was established bringing the best of the decades pop and new wave artists all to one stage. With artists such as Naked Eyes, Belinda Carlisle, Human League, ABC, Cutting Crew, Flock of Seagulls, Berlin, Missing Persons, Wang Chung, Andy Bell, and Howard Jones gracing the line-up over the years, audiences have been wowed time after time. Now in 2014, the annual summer celebration gets a new name and revamped look being dubbed as the Retro Futura Tour. Featuring Katrina of Katrina & The Waves, China Crisis, Ultravox’s Midge Ure, Howard Jones, and Thompson Twin’s Tom Bailey, the tour kicked off in New York City on August 21st and concludes in Orlando, FL on September 10th. On Saturday August 23rd, the excitement came to the open-air Pennysaver Amphitheater in Farmingville, NY to rock the night away with Long Islanders as SiriusXM First Wave host Larry The Duck introduced each act.
Kicking off the party was American vocalist Katrina Leskanich of the famous English pop band Katrina & The Waves. Rising to international success back in 1985, Katrina & The Waves had a steady career through the late 90’s featuring nine albums and a series of chart topping hits. Remaining active, Katrina dove into a solo career upon the dissolve of the band and has released six studio albums including her newest Blisland. Taking to the stage as a part of Retro Futura Tour 2014, performing in North America for the first time since 1989, Katrina began her performance fittingly with a track from the same year titled “Rock ‘n Roll Girl”. With a full band accompanying her, there was immense energy and spectacular sound all the way through. More blasts from the past came showering down including “Going Down to Liverpool” where Katrina’s voice was as strong as ever. Katrina even gave the audience a listen to her new song “Every Step” which was fresh and enticed many to want to purchase the new record. Her set came to an end with “Do You Want Crying?” and mega hit “Walking On Sunshine”. Impressing the audience, everyone agreed it was a treat to see Katrina live in action after all these years.
Next on stage was UK new wave China Crisis. Begun in the early stages of the movement back in 1979, China Crisis is considered to be one of the original of the Liverpool scene along with the likes of Echo & The Bunnymen, OMD, and A Flock of Seagulls. Having considerable success during the 1980’s in European Markets with three Top 40 albums, the band has a core of anxious fans in North America waiting to see them live. Led by vocalist Gary Daly and guitarist Eddie Lundon, the set began with the beautiful song “Arizona Sky”, followed by “African and White”. In good spirits and having a blast on stage, Daly moved about the stage in a classy suit, singing with vivid inflections, as they moved on with “You Did Cut Me”, “Black Man Ray” and concluding with Top 20 UK hit “King in a Catholic Style (Wake Up)”. With a fun set lanced with deep tracks dear to so many, China Crisis’ appearance was greatly appreciated. Now the band is set to release their first studio album since 1994 titled Autumn in the Neighbourhood.
As the night wore on and the sky darkened, the lights came to shine bright on Midge Ure of UK’s Ultravox. Garnishing much praise during the 1980’s in Europe, Ultravox was fortified by the addition of vocalist/guitarist Ure when joining up in 1979. Reaching amazing heights with many Top 10 singles in the UK, the band built a name with their unique blend of rock, synth, and punk vibes as a leader in European new wave. Reformed with Ure back in 2009, Ultravox released their first album in twenty-eight years in 2012 titled Brilliant. Bringing on cheers, Ure opened up with the enchanting tune “Hymn” before flowing into his solo tunes “Dear God” and “If I Was”. Echoing through the air, Ure’s tone was as distinct as ever going through Visage tune “Fade to Grey” and winding down with Ultravox classics “Vienna” and “Dancing With Tears in My Eyes”. His set was everything anyone could ask for and more. Ure will partake in some solo acoustic dates after Retro Futura Tour as he supports his latest album Fragile.
It was time for one of the most recognized artists of the synthpop/new wave era, Howard Jones. Active in mainstream music since 1982, Jones has always been a marvel; creating music essentially as a one-man band and producing some of the most memorable radio hits of the period. Declaring his freedom of record labels back in 1994 with Working in the Backroom, Jones has concentrated on bringing exciting and new music directly to his fans, all while touring consistently year after year.
Having a great deal to do with the marvelous line-up of Retro Futura Tour, Jones received a roaring cheer as he began on keytar with new track “The Human Touch”. The inventive new track was a wonderful table setter as Jones went into hit after hit including “Like to Get to Know You Well”, “Everlasting Love”, “No One Is to Blame”, and “What Is Love?”. Sounding as perfect as studio recordings, Jones’ showmanship also brings each track to life as he interacted and wore a smile the whole way through. Playing the 1989 track “The Prisoner”, Jones had everyone on their feet dancing with “Things Can Only Get Better” and the upbeat “New Song”. As always, Jones’ live performance was full of color and delight, ensuring everyone will be back his next touring cycle.
For the grand finale of Retro Futura Tour, the time came for co-headliner Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins. Celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the multi-platinum Into the Gap in 2014, fans were delighted to hear that Bailey would be actively touring North America once again. Having been over two decades since Thompson Twins’ final record Queer (1991), Bailey has remained extremely active in music with diverse projects Babble, International Observer, and Bailey-Salgado Project. Striking the curiosity of all as to what tracks he would perform on Retro Futura Tour, the wait was finally over and Bailey emerged into the glowing purple light. Beaming a flashlight into the crowd, everyone applauded with the start of the musical intro of “We Are Detective”.
Going right into recognizable hits, Bailey played pieces such as “In the Name of Love”, “Lies”, and “Sister of Mercy” having everyone on their feet, hands in the air, and singing along. Combining textured instrumentation with each song performed, Bailey’s cool demeanor on stage was a sight to see as he casually walked about the platform singing passionately. His attention to the detail of each song did not go unnoticed as he marched on with songs like “You Take Me Up” and “If You Were Here”, playing guitar and interjecting some new lyrics. That new twist on the music was welcomed and interesting to hear as Bailey went into “Love on Your Side” and sing-along “Doctor! Doctor!”. Arousing cheers for more, Bailey came out for an encore including 1985’s “King For A Day” and mega hit “Hold Me Now”. The warm sensations of these classic tunes had everyone in ecstasy as Bailey’s performance was clarified and powerful.
Retro Futura Tour is the most complete retrospective of a decade filled with clever musician expression and unforgettable hit songs. Fans of this precious era of alternative music must get out there and experience Retro Futura Tour as it warps into time.Photo credit: Mark Schoen Photography