Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisLet's start by giving credit where credit is due to The Go-Go's as one of the first (if not the inaugural) all girl pop/punk group free of pre-fabrication and full of spunky but aggressive riffs. And let the record also show that throughout members' initial incarnation together, they had a tremendous run of radio and video singles packed with tons of style, but a near equal degree of substance. Despite that applauded lineage, The Go-Go's haven't exactly been all that prolific when it comes to original material in the last decade or so. Aside from a constant re-hashing of greatest hits collections (stocked with the occasional new tune or two) there's really only been 2001's God Bless the Go-Go's, which was followed up by a tour that saw the ladies sell out the Vic Theatre locally.
Though it was great to have them back in original gear then and this current trip through town was also at full capacity out (and just so happened to be in honor of its twenty-fifth anniversary) the intensity, emotion and professionalism didn't come across to quite the same degree. Instead, the fivesome appeared somewhat rusty, a lot older and not as insistent in performance or consistent in delivery. Of course, for those packed tightly into the comfy club, it didn't seem to matter all that much because most of the expected was delivered, especially favorites from the now classic debut Beauty and the Beat. But upon closer examination, there were multiple occasions when The Go-Go's weren't able to captivate with their usual charm, nor convincingly pull off yet another reunion.
About forty-five minutes through the set after unloading its apex "We Got the Beat," the noticeably heavier Belinda Carlisle and her crew huffed off stage to the extremely awkward lowering of a video screen for a taped vignette chronicling the group's two and a half decade milestone. Though shots of old MTV appearances and concert footage were enjoyable to recall, it was placed at a noticeably in-opportune time that halted the evening's generally steady momentum. "Head Over Heels" came after the pause and all was flowing smoothly again, but come a couple tunes later, drummer Gina Schock began playing "Unforgiven" (the girls' most recent major single) while the rest of players were pounding through "Vacation." The train wreck came to a major stand still once Carlisle's confusion over which lyric to sing was more than she could handle, but rather than taking it all in stride, she actually gave Schock a hard time (possibly in jest, but noticeably perturbed) and the two started discussing what was actually supposed to come next! Thankfully, guitarist/vocalist Jane Wiedlin had enough sense to inject some comic relief saying "what we meant to play was "Walk Like An Egyptian,' a colorful reference to wannabees The Bangles that earned a hearty round of chuckles.
Once all was in order, "Vacation" turned out just fine and was the crowd truly let their hair down to sing louder than the group itself. However it's encore of Carlisle's more adult contemporary/pop oriented "Mad About You" again brought about a low and seemed odd considering it wasn't her solo show. Yet even stranger was why this particular gig ranked so much lower than a mere four years ago, which despite its bright spots, didn't paint The Go-Go's in the meaningful 80s surviving (and thriving up until this point) light that it deserves.
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