September 19, 2016 The Bangles Shake Up The Paramount Huntington, NY 8-19-16
With deep roots in the Los Angeles, California music scene, The Bangles have become one of the most influential all-female Rock bands of the past three plus decades. Begun by Susanna Hoffs, and sisters Vicki and Debbi Peterson, they would soon add Annette Zilinskas on bass to a lineup dressed for future success. Traditionally influenced by ’60s Rock-n-Roll, the band would soon morph into a Power Pop Rock force by the time they released their 1986 sophomore album, Different Light. Since going three times platinum in the USA, the album contained four big singles, including a #1 and #2 hit on the charts.
Recently celebrating the 30th anniversary of Different Light back in January, The Bangles turned back the clock to their early days, releasing a new compilation, entitled Ladies and Gentlemen: The Bangles, on June 24th. A selection of 16 rare, re-mastered tracks, the album was in fact available digitally a year earlier, but finally received a proper physical format release via Omnivore Recordings. Thus, to honor the landmark of Different Light, and the hidden treasure chest of Ladies and Gentlemen: The Bangles, the band announced they would be partaking in a special summer tour across The States. A tour with select dates, the trio of Hoffs on vocals/guitar, Debbi on drums/vocals, and Vicki on guitar/vocals took their show to Huntington, New York on Friday, August 19th, to grace the stage of The Paramount. Marking their first visit to the Long Island area since playing Boulton Center for the Performing Arts down in Bay Shore on October 3rd of 2014, absence made fans’ heart grow fonder for The Bangles return, greeting them with a packed house.
Practically near full before even hitting 8 PM, opening act, calling themselves Cardiac, were ready to get the party started. Also from the Los Angeles music scene, The Bangles stay true to their hometown bringing the young, aspiring band on the road with them for the eight gig tour. Consisting of David Jonathan DiSarro on vocals, Jarod Woznik on lead guitar, and Don Bish on drums, Cardiac is a mix of modern Hard and Alternative Rock, with influence from Classic Rock and personal lyrical content.
Taking their emotionally driven brand of music to the platform of The Paramount, DiSarro sang passionately as they opened with “Another Hero Dies.” A rather mellow piece to start, the song soon exploded with a string-bending guitar solo from Woznik, paving the way for the rest of the set, including tracks like “Here I Fall,” the more delicate “Breathe,” and closer, “I Feel Alive.” Energized and enthusiastic, DiSarro proved to be the ultimate showman as he moved about the stage with ease as Woznik dazzled on guitar and Bish smashed on drums. Perhaps not what some spectators at The Paramount were expecting from an opening act for The Bangles, Cardiac impressed thoroughly as they received a round of applause prior to saying goodnight. Still a young band, Cardiac possesses all the ingredients of modern Rock, but with a symphonic edge that should see them attain more mainstream exposure very soon.
Giving the audience a chance to mingle and purchase a drink, The Paramount was itching with excitement waiting for Hoffs, Vicki, Debbi, and Bassist Derrick Anderson to take the stage. With little to no room to move on the floor, most found a good place to stand, and waited patiently for the band to begin their set. Once they finally did so, the room erupted with joy as they began with the early cut “Mary Street.” Initially apart of their 1982 EP, it is one of the selections included on the band’s newest compilation, and with Hoffs, Vicki, and Debbi uniting vocally, the harmonies were marvelous. From there, they handed the lead mic over to Debbi as she kept the beat and sang her co-penned 1988 track, “Some Dreams Come True.” Coming forth with a raw energy, each song was clear, yet with enough grit to remind the audience of the early days of the band.
Taking a moment to address the room, each member was all smiles and pleased by the turn out as Hoffs went on to dedicate their 1986 hit “Manic Monday” to the late great Prince. A song everyone knows and loves, many sang along to the words as they danced and grabbed some video with their cell phones. From this point, it seemed the show had hit its stride and the songs kept coming with a bundle from 1984’s All Over The Place including “Restless,” “James,” “He’s Got a Secret,” and their popular rendition of Katrina and the Waves’ “Going Down to Liverpool.” Keeping with cover tracks, which no doubt define the influences over the band through the years, some included Big Star’s “September Gurls,” and 60’s band The Merry-Go-Round’s “Live.” Sprinkled in between more early rarities such as “I’m in Line” and “The Real World,” Debbi once again shined on vocals and Hoffs even greeted her cousin in the mezzanine next to the stage who made the trip out to the show.
Keeping the playlist lively, the audience exploded with cheers once the band kicked into their unforgettable version of Simon & Garfunkel’s “A Hazy Shade of Winter.” Anchored by Vicki’s blistering guitar lick, the signature harmonies of all three ladies rang loudly as they rocked through the song, which for many, is forever associated with the opening of 1987 Drama Less Than Zero. From this point, the band showed little fatigue as they remained on point through their version of Jules Shear’s “If She Knew What She Wants,” the raw “Want You,” and newer studio recording, from 2011, Nazz’s “Open My Eyes.” Quite the mixed bag of songs, the selections were compelling, and with diversity being the strong point, they wrapped up the set with two crowd favorites, “In Your Room” and “Hero Takes a Fall.”
Departing from the stage, waving goodnight, fans wondered if this was in fact the end of the show, but that anxiety was soon released once Debbi strapped on an acoustic guitar and walked to the front of the stage with Hoffs and Vicki to enchant the audience with the decade defining Pop gem “Walk Like an Egyptian.” A wonderful track, still fun and quirky all these years later, no matter the age of the spectators at The Paramount, everyone was dancing. As everyone cheered and bounced about, The Bangles took it down a few notches with their more mellow hit everyone knows as “Eternal Flame.” Vastly different than the list of upbeat tracks from the 1988 Everything record, it still is one of the most beautiful, vulnerable love songs from the ’80s, and Hoffs sang it flawlessly. Having the room floating on a cloud, The Bangles had one more trick up their sleeve as they rounded out the lengthy set with The Changin’ Times’ “How Is The Air Up There?”
A very entertaining set, The Bangles proved that they still have the magic of yesteryear. Complete with harmonies reflective of ’60s Rock-n-Roll, the band’s latest compilation is a cool piece to add to a music collection, much like The Beatles’ 1994 release, Live at the BBC. That being said, this was a unique performance that showed that The Bangles have always been much more than the Pop label that was slammed on them. Sadly, the run is over, but if anything, it gave concert goers a chance to look further beneath the surface of this exceptional band.Photo credit: ML Schoen Photography