After their long-delayed plans to tour were derailed because of the lockdowns, the reunited Go-Go’s gave their fans a treat at a sold out House of Blues in Anaheim.
Packed into the large venue were hundreds of smiling faces, and when The Go-Go’s came out to the strains of Blondie’s 1976 hit “Rip Her to Shreds,” the crowd screamed with delight. Much to my surprise, Blondie’s terrific drummer, Clem Burke, was manning the drum chair. It was later explained that Go-Go’s drummer Gina Shock was unable to join the band on their short tour, and Burke had gladly offered to fill in. As a drummer myself, and a big fan of Burke’s, I was delighted, and his powerful and precise drum beat gave the band the fuel it needed to fire off a fun and hit-filled performance.
Opening with the surf-music inspired “Beatnik Beach,” all eyes were on lead singer Belinda Carlisle, dressed in a shimmery black fringed dress, which danced to the beat just like she did all evening. Her voice was on point as well, especially on songs like “Lust to Love” and the crowd favorite “Vacation,” which became quite the sing-along with their fans. Carlisle never lost her huge smile the entire evening, and seemed to be having the time of her life.
Guitarist Charlotte Caffey, on the other hand, seemed content with being steadfast still, rarely smiling, and playing her guitar and the occasional keyboard. The wonderfully bouncy “Head Over Heels” got one of the loudest and aggressive responses of the evening. Bassist Kathy Valentine looked and sounded lovely, sporting a huge smile on her face, and playfully addressed the crowd as she mentioned all the good things that have happened to The Go-Go’s the last few years. “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the documentary, a new Go-Go’s song,” she proudly boasted. Each statement was roundly applauded, and the band launched into “Club Zero,” the 2020 song that was featured in the biopic that aired on Showtime.
Quite a few cuts from their recording career were played and well received. “This Town” and “Tonight” from their debut, and “Get Up and Go” from “Vacation” were particular standouts, and the band sounded well-rehearsed throughout the show. The Go-Go’s co-founder, guitarist Jane Wiedlin, was her usually enthusiastic self – dressed in a priest frock, complete with collar and white cross – and jumped around the stage periodically. Her sweet vocals were in contrast to her slashing rhythm guitar chords on her glittery Gibson SG. After a false start, their huge hit “Our Lips Are Sealed” took the energy in the room to a new level, and Wiedlin extended her vocal part in the song a few measures, seemingly because she was enjoying it so much, that she didn’t want the song to end.
The Go-Go’s ended their set quite predictably, with the drum intro to “We Got the Beat” bringing out a few hundred cell phones lighting up simultaneously. However, Wiedlin pleaded with the crowd to put the phones down and dance. And, for the second show in a row that I have attended, the crowd obliged for the most part, making it seem like 1981 all over again. I witnessed dance moves from people of all ages, moving and grooving to THE BEAT! Together, as they sang along with the band, this crowd was united as one, the joy on their faces showed exactly what a great song can do. In this day and age where “personal space” is demanded, all borders were forgiven.
At song’s end, the band left the stage briefly, and to the roar of the crowd, returned and did a rave-up version of the Shangri-La’s 1964 hit “Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand)” that Belinda Carlisle absolutely nailed. There were many generations in the house that could relate to that song, and I’m sure the 12 year old next to me could identify with the song’s “Oh No No No No” part from its constant inclusion in TikTok videos.
March 28, 2022
Valentine took the microphone and introduced the band members and thanked the audience for being there, as she and the other Go-Go’s were absolutely beaming with smiles. They finished the show with “Can’t Stop the World” from their debut record, the classic “Beauty and the Beat.” When the song was over, they waved to the crowd again and the house lights went on, signaling the end to a fun and enjoyable night. On the way out, there were plenty of happy faces, and sounds of people recounting their youthful stories about when The Go-Go’s and their songs were first played on the radio and, of course, the glory days of MTV.
The Go-Go’s will play Crypto.Com Arena tomorrow night, Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay Thursday night, then head to Europe with Billy Idol.