Review: Regeneration Tour 2009 at NYC’s Fillmore
Written by admin on June 19, 2009
Regeneration Tour 2009 rolled into New York on June 18th in front of a standing room only crowd at the Fillmore. This year’s lineup featured The Cutting Crew, Wang Chung, Terri Nunn & Berlin and ABC. The show show boasts great performances from top classic alternative artists with some new music and several interesting surprises.
Leading off the concert was Nick Van Eede and his new incarnation of the Cutting Crew. Van Eede and company brought with them a sense of humor throughout his set from playing along with some sound adjustment problems in the beginning to kidding around with the audience about their wanting to hear the more familiar songs. The band seemed to have a loose attitude on stage and played as if they were a free-wheeling 70s classic rock band. Four songs in, however, Van Eede reminded everyone at the Fillmore of why he is considered one of the better balladeers of the 1980s with his early hit “I’ve Been In Love Before.” This was after one of the band’s deeper cuts and a selection from their forthcoming Spectra records album (due out this fall) called “Shot of Democracy,” as the band tool a political tone here — a turn from their more romantic approach of the 80s and 90s. They saved their two most well-known hits for last as they played “One For the Mockingbird” before closing out with “I Just Died In Your Arms Last Night; the latter featured a more classic rock-reminiscent surprise guitar solo by Asif Illyas.
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Wang Chung to the stage next with their first appearance together in New York since 1987. Jack Hues and Nick Feldman reunited and are set to release their new album, Abducted by the 80s, in 2010. During our interview a few weeks ago, Hues indicated he and Feldmnan would take a jeans-and-acoustic approach to the Regeneration Tour; with that, the duo delivered a new hybrid of the Wang Chung fans know best and the eclectic musical backgrounds of both Hues and Feldman. They led off with “Don’t Let Go,” performing it with a blues/rock influence and a heavy guitar sound. Keyboards were again exchanged for strings in “Let’s Go,” which took surprisingly well to the different sound. The set seemed to be heavily influenced by the twosome’s post-Wang Chung projects, including Hues’ new jazz band, The Quartet. Old time fans, however, might remember the Huang Chung days of more guitar and percussion-oriented sound ahead of the keyboard stylings of the Points and Mosaic albums.
Wang Chung offered fans a taste of Abducted by the 80s with their performance of “Driving You.” Interestingly, while the emphasis on the classic hits was carried by guitars and less synth, the new song was performed with more dominant keyboards. While possessing all the aspects of a quintessential 80s song, “Driving You” seems to carry a timeless relevancy and has the potential to be an international hit after the single’s release. It was back to the 1980s and back to the guitars with “To Live and Die in LA,” the only ballad hit for the band who rarely released their underrated slower-paced tracks as singles. Like the Cutting Crew, Wang Chung’s biggest hits were played at the end: the big band-influenced “Dance Hall Days” and the fast=paced “Everybody Have Fun Tonight (which started out as something of a ballad).” While the horns and keyboards were again replaced by guitars, Hues and Feldman gave concert-goers a new, expanded perception of Wang Chung and left the crowd (and this critic) in anticipation of their 2010 Abducted album.
Concert-watchers appeared to become quite entranced when Terri Nunn and Berlin took the stage. While Cutting Crew and Wang Chung took a more traditional concert approach, in direct contrast, Berlin began their set with an energetic performance of “Masquerade” with Nunn instantly beguiling the crowd. As she picked up from her days of being on the way to acting stardom before choosing to get into singing, Nunn immediately captivated the audience by interacting with the them through her alluring movements, eye contact and interaction. Not only did she use the whole stage to mesmerize the 80s fans there as they sang along with her to classic Berlin tracks, she expanded her performance area into the standing room area and a platform near the balcony. Her new Berlin lineup may have been young, but re-produced the band’s patented synth-based sound with true precision. Berlin also performed tracks from their brand new CD/DVD set, Berlin: All the Way In, including a superbly-done cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love,” an homage to one of her favorite rockers, Grace Slick. Whether she is singing classics like “The Metro” or “No More Words” or new tracks such as “Ordinary Girl,” Nunn showed her mastery of the spotlight as she sang to the concert-goers and bringing them into the act, which is a lost portion of the art among today’s more generically-processed musical acts.
After a stunning performance of “Dope Show” from the 2004 4Play album, members of the crowd were invited on stage to dance as the band played “Dancing in Berlin.” Nunn made an effort to shimmy with as many of those who joined her as possible; one of the dancers even managed to take a cell phone picture of herself rocking out with her favorite singer. Berlin ended the set bedazzling their fans with “Sex (I’m a…),” a part of the act that could only be described as hypnotically seductive.
Closing out the show was ABC, who were asked back to the Regeneration Tour after highlighting the show last year. Martin Fry entered the stage with a shiny black suit with a chic yellow lining, continuing the tradition that (as I wrote last year) will soon force ABC to change the lyrics to “When Smokey Sings” to saying the Motown legend wears the “second-sharpest suits.” Fry told Revenge of the 80s Radio earlier in the month that he was looking forward to playing a longer set than last year and he did not disappoint anyone expecting him to top the previous tour. After beginning with “Poison Arrow” and “How to be a Millionaire,” ABC mixed more of their big hits with some deeper cuts and a track from last year’s Traffic album, “Ride,” which features guitarist Matt Backer. Longtime fans of the band have taken well to the new ABC guitar-heavier sound as indicated by the success of Traffic, and some of that translated extremely well into their classics: Backer’s talents offered a new bend to the live performances of songs like “That Was Then, This Is Now” and “Tears Are Not Enough.” As for Fry, anyone who knows ABC expects no less that rarely-matched command of the stage. The band closed out its portion of the show with “When Smokey Sings” (still waiting for the lyrical change stated earlier) and “Be Near Me” after being called out for an encore with “The Look of Love.”
From the moment he took the mic, the original Lexicon of Love’s patented presence and soothing voice ‘
instantly won and kept the attention of the crowd. Fry moved flawlessly from early ABC love songs to their dance hits into more rock-oriented versions of some of their standards into the new music and back to the early pieces. His voice is as strong as it has been since the 80s and so is his ability to run a show. Martin Fry’s act in New York City that night was simply more proof as to why Martin Fry is considered the de facto standard-bearer of the New Romantic genre of the early 80s new wave movement.
This year’s Regeneration Tour continues their relatively new tradition of bringing some of the legendary bands of the 1980s. While last year’s concert was at a large venue, the Jones Beach Amphitheater. In contrast, this year’s show at the Fillmore had a more intimate setting for the fans. The tour ends on July 16th; ticket information is on the official Regeneration Tour website. Fans of classic alternative music would do well for themselves to see these bands perform when the concert series plays in a nearby city.