Go-Go’s in Concert
Wednesday, July 4, 2018
July 4th Fireworks Spectacular
with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Thomas Wilkins, conductor
Special guest: The U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West
Songs performed: This Town, Vacation, How Much More, Tonite, Automatic Rainy Day, Mad About You, Lust to Love, Here You Are, Cool Places, Cool Jerk, Skidmarks on My Heart, Get Up and Go, The Whole World Lost Its Head, Our Lips Are Sealed, Head Over Heels, We Got the Beat
Comments: Celebrating 40 years as a band — The Go-Go’s — headlined a series of shows at the Hollywood Bowl in honor of Independence Day. Two years ago, the band bid farewell to touring with a show at the nearby Greek Theatre. Back then, Kathy Valentine was out of the group. She is now back in the group, but drummer Gina Shock had to sit out the current shows this time due to recent surgery. So, the fans didn’t get the full band as promised by the advertisements.
This was my 10th time seeing the band over the years — starting in 1982 at the same venue. I have seen the band approximately every 3.5 years in those 36 years. So, it is safe to say that I am a big fan.
Besides it being the 40th anniversary of the band, the band’s songs are the basis for a new Broadway musical — “Head Over Heels.” It does not tell the story of the Go-Go’s, but just uses their songs to tell the love story in the show.
Fans got treated to songs from their 4 studio albums, plus 1 song from their “Return to the Valley of the Go-Go’s” collection and 1 solo song each from Belinda Carlisle (Mad About You) and Jane Wiedlin (Cool Places, her duet with Sparks). The band’s sound has settled into a sort-of grungy power-pop —reflecting their early punk roots on the LA music scene.
I appreciate that Jane Wiedlin had a dress that said RESIST across it. The band even changed the lyrics of “The Whole World Lost Its Head” to reflect the challenging times we are living in.
During half of the songs, the Orchestra played along with the band filling out their sound. And there were even a few orchestral break-downs during a couple of the numbers, adding to the fun of the night.
This was not your typical Go-Go’s audience at the shows either. Most times you see them, people are on their feet for the entire show — dancing and singing along. Maybe, it’s because we are all older now, but that was not the case this time. So, there were periods of dancing, mostly with the more popular songs in their song catalog.
Near the end of the show, the band gave us the 1-2 punch of “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “Head Over Heels” before leaving the stage for the fireworks. Then the Orchestra took over and gave us the traditional patriotic tunes as the fireworks were set off. The Go-Go’s returned for a rollicking, fully-orchestrated take on “We Got the Beat” that made the crowd go wild.
There was a local marching band that came out and marched around the perimeter of the front section before the band came back out. It looked dramatic — but in reality, they weren’t really used to their full extent.
Belinda was not in her best voice that night (at least for me), but the band played with so much enthusiasm and passion that they more than made up for it. I do hope that they record some more music together (maybe a remix album or a Christmas album). So hopefully in 3 years, I will be seeing the full group on their latest “farewell” tour. Thanks to the ladies and the LA Phil for a great evening. You’ve still got the beat!
KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.