July 16, 2018 Retro Futura Tour Takes Over Theatre at Westbury, NY 7-13-18
Under most circumstances, it is impossible to go back in time to relive past events. That is of course unless you have a hypothetical device such as time machine. Seriously though, the past is the past, and while we would like to relive it, it is impractical. Then there are those defying logic such as the Retro Futura Tour, bringing the best of ’80s New Wave and Pop to the present day.
Initially titled the Regeneration Tour, when it began a decade ago, back in 2008, through the years everyone from The Human League to Andy Bell of Erasure have united for the special concert event. Now in its fifth year under the name Retro Futura Tour, 2018’s lineup is electric, featuring Annabella of Bow Wow Wow, Limahl of Kajagoogoo, Tony Lewis of The Outfield, Modern English, Belinda Carlisle, and ABC. Rightfully dubbed ‘America’s Premier 80’s Concert Tour,’ it all kicked off on July 11th, and on Friday the 13th plotted to cast a spell on Long Island’s the Theatre at Westbury in New York.
A familiar landing spot for the ’80s music extravaganza, who could forget when Belinda Carlisle and The Human League rocked Jones Beach back in 2008? Or, the time Andy Bell and Howard Jones teamed up for a delightful show at Huntington’s The Paramount in 2013? How about when Katrina from Katrina and The Waves and Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey energized Farmingville on Bald Hill in 2014? The memories are plentiful, so Retro Futura’s return to Long Island in 2018 comes with a ton of excitement. This time around hosting the aforementioned Theatre at Westbury, the in the round style venue saw nearly 3,000 fans of all ages assemble for a night to remember.
Kicking off around 7 PM, the stage would be in full motion throughout the evening, allowing all to get a good view of the action. Truly a mixed demographic of spectators, there were husbands and wives, but also families, perhaps providing their children an introduction to classic ’80s music. Whatever age group it was, everyone was engaged from the moment the show began when Annabella of Bow Wow Wow arrived first.
A veteran performer, Annabella Lwin’s story dates back to a young teenager, when she was discovered while singing along to a radio inside a laundromat. Soon after teaming up with her band Bow Wow Wow, they would go on to release three studio albums – 1980’s Your Cassette Pet, 1981’s See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy!, and 1983’s When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going.
All these years later, Annabella continues to perform at a high level around the world. Doing just that, she took to Westbury comfortably, performing songs such as “Baby, Oh No!,” “Do You Wanna Hold Me?,” and of course the New Wave classic, “I Want Candy.” Engaging and fun, she gave the night the spark it needed to get started.
Speaking of which, within a blink of an eye, as Annabella was exiting, Limahl was entering. Adoring Motown music growing up, Limahl would go on to become a successful Pop singer during the early 1980s. The face and voice of Kajagoogoo, during the period of their majorly successful 1983 debut album, White Feathers, Limahl’s talents would also take him onto a successful solo career.
Now approaching 60 years of age, the Retro Futura Tour would actually be the English performer’s first ever live appearances in North America. Elate for the opportunity, he arrived with a ton of energy, sounding and looking great. All smiles, he gave the audience a good dosage of White Feathers, after all it is the 35th anniversary of the record. Performing songs like “Interview Rooms,” “Ooh to Be Ah/Hang On Now,” as well as the megahit “Too Shy,” he also fit in his solo hit, the title track from the 1984 film The NeverEnding Story. Having everyone cheering for more, hopefully Limahl will be back sooner than later.
Keeping the special moments coming, next up would be Tony Lewis, famously known as the voice of The Outfield. Lewis, recently releasing his first ever solo album, Out of The Darkness, is returning from a 4 year hiatus from music. Taking the time off after the a tragic loss of his friend and longtime Outfield bandmate John Spinks, Lewis is also returning to touring for the first time in 14 years.
An exciting time for him and dedicated followers, he came out to perform Outfield favorites including “Say It Isn’t So,” “All the Love,” “Since You’ve Been Gone,” as well as their chart-topping hit “Your Love.” Always known for his powerful voice, Lewis sounded as good as ever, hitting all the right notes and providing just the right emotion. He even snuck in “Into the Light,”a new song that could stand proudly next to any of The Outfield’s material. Given a standing ovation, Lewis’ return to music is welcomed with open arms.
Following three acts back to back, the first intermission came right before Modern English. Another UK band with a rich history, they built a strong underground fanbase following the release of their 1981 debut album, Mesh & Lace. Quickly launched into the mainstream in 1982 with the international success of After the Snow, Modern English’s story would continue for many years to follow.
Currently reformed with original members Robbie Grey on vocals, Mick Conroy on bass, Gary McDowell on guitar, and Stephen Walker keyboards, along with Roy Martin on drums, Modern English has been rather active in recent years. Playing shows around the USA, including a unique tour of the Mesh & Lace album in 2016, they even put out Take Me to the Trees that same year, a brand new collection of songs.
Invigorated and inspired, they showcased a delightful set including 1986’s “Ink and Paper,” After the Snow’s wonderful opening, “Someone’s Calling,” new cut “Moonbeam,” 1984’s “Hands Across the Sea,” and of course, “I Melt with You.” Perhaps the only song a casual fan may recognize, “I Melt with You” is unquestionably a decade defining piece – admit it, most know it word for word. Even still, Modern English is a band that rightfully has a following beyond the hits, and for that reason America wants them back for another headlining club tour soon!
Well into the evening, more excitement was yet to come when Belinda Carlisle emerged from the shadows onto the platform. A icon in her own right, both as the lead vocalist of The Go-Go’s, one of the most successful all-female bands of all time, as well as building a tremendous solo career, Carlisle’s setlist would play out like a jukebox of hits.
Also approaching 60, like her tourmate Limahl, Carlisle sincerely looks absolutely wonderful. Moreover, she sounded as beautiful as she looked, projecting her voice to every corner of the theater with ease. A matter of fact, the performance was that of studio quality, instrumentally as well as vocally. With so much easily recognized music at her disposal, Carlisle went full speed ahead with “Mad About You,” “I Get Weak,” “Circle in the Sand,” and “Leave a Light On.”
With each passing hit inspiring nearly everyone to get up to dance and sing along, let’s not forget the energy brought on by her renditions of The Go-Go’s “Head Over Heels,” “Vacation,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” and “We Got the Beat.” Each delivered flawlessly, adding to the crowd’s enthusiasm, Carlisle wore a bright smile and proved to be limber as she danced about the stage. Unfortunately there was a schedule to keep and her time came to a close, but not before the uplifting “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” rounded out the performance.
Anyone who has seen Carlisle live know that any praise thrown her way is not an embellishment, she truly is a fantastic vocalist and live performer. Recently releasing her eighth solo album in 2017, Wilder Shores, The Go-Go’s also remain actively touring, so there are bound to be many more outstanding years of music from Belinda Carlisle.
Had enough ’80s music yet? Of course not! That is why everyone stuck around for the final act of the night, ABC. Yet another English sensation to rise to fame during the 1980s era, ABC’s 1982 debut album, The Lexicon of Love, would light up charts the world over, paving the path for a slew of hits. Forever and always led by the theatrical, powerful voice of Martin Fry, ABC’s story continues to be written with the release of The Lexicon of Love II in 2016.
Regularly touring in support of the new and elder music, their showcase at Westbury would be full of adrenaline. Performing songs such as “When Smokey Sings,” “Poison Arrow,” and “(How to Be a) Millionaire,” Fry and company were firing on all cylinders. All dressed to the nines, there were elements of Jazz; with smooth saxophone, textures of Synthpop; with electrifying keys, and a touch of Soul; with Fry’s emotive singing style.
All oh so silky, the combination of the instrumentation with Fry’s voice was fantastic as they moved forward, offering newer song “Viva Love,” before “The Night You Murdered Love,” “Vanity Kills,” “King Without a Crown,” and “All of My Heart.” All evoking delightful memories for the audience, perhaps the most clamorous response came during two of the band’s biggest, “Be Near Me” and “The Look of Love.” Sophisticated yet dance-y, the polished arrangements still sound fresh in today’s modern Pop music world.
A night that had little to no down time, each respective artist shined bright in their own light. It was not just a trip down memory lane, everyone was in tip-top shape, ready to perform at a significantly high level.
With the ’80s revival in full swing, it is fantastic to see these artists out performing and claiming the reigns of a genre of Pop that they helped pioneer. After all, if it were not for bands such as theses, would we have artists such as MGMT, Chvrches, Editors, or the plethora of others flooding the scene today? Like it or not, Synthpop and similar Alternative Pop music from the 1980s era is highly influential. Why not, it is a fantastic era to indulge in! So, whether you are someone who experienced the first wave of this music back in the day, or are from the younger generation discovering these sounds for the first time, Retro Futura Tour is a bill not to be missed.
JULY 18 – BRANSON, MO – WELK RESORT
JULY 20 – SALT LAKE CITY, UT – RED BUTTE AMPHITHEATER
JULY 21 – LAS VEGAS, NV – MANDALAY BAY
JULY 22 – SARATOGA, CA – MOUNTAIN WINERY
JULY 26 – COSTA MESA, CA – ORANGE COUNTY FAIR
JULY 28 – LOS ANGELES, CA – WILTERN THEATRE***
JULY 29 – TUCSON, AZ – ANSELMO VALENCIA TORE AMPHITHEATER
AUGUST 1 – MILWAUKEE, WI – PABST THEATRE
AUGUST 3 – NORTHFIELD, OH – HARD ROCK LIVE
AUGUST 4 – ST. IGNACE, MI – KEWADIN CASINO RESORT
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