By: Kevin Rolfe
Nostalgia can be a beautiful thing. And Sandy Amphitheater was full of it on August 15. The amphitheater was full of people thinking back to their youth and to the songs that made up the soundtrack of their lives back then. Many of those songs were on display during the Lost 80’s Live Tour. With a lineup including A Flock of Seagulls, Wang Chung, The Vapors, Boys Don’t Cry, The Escape Club, Real Life, and Farrington & Mann(Original Members of When in Rome UK) you get the most bang for your buck. Several bands performing some of the ’80s most iconic songs in one show. When I was stationed by the soundboard to take pictures a man stopped to chat with me. I asked him what he thought of shows like this. He thought it was great. He stated that he could see all these bands at once whereas he might not be able to see all of them if they toured individually. We also discussed that this gave these bands the opportunity to play to a larger audience then they might if they toured on their own. He shared that he had seen A Flock of Seagulls way back in the early 80s and was excited to see them again. He also stated that he had never seen When in Rome when they were first on the scene so he was excited to finally hear “The Promise” live by original vocalists Farrington & Mann.
There was a mix up with my ticket situation so I wasn’t able to hear Boys Don’t Cry perform, “I Wanna Be a Cowboy”. I asked a few people how that set was and they told me it was really fun and a great way to start off the show.
As I walked into the Sandy Amphitheater I heard a very familiar song. It was Real Life singing “Send Me an Angel”. The majority of the audience was on their feet singing along. I remember hearing that song first in the movie Rad. I enjoyed their rerelease in 1989 as well. I was really happy to get in there in time to hear that song!
I was finally in the venue and able to settle in and take some pictures. (As you can see!) Escape Club took to the stage and I have to admit I wasn’t sure how they would be received because their career took off a little later in the 80s while most of the bands on this lineup hit it earlier on in the decade. There really was nothing to worry about. People seemed to really enjoy their set, especially when they played their #1 hit “Wild Wild West”. When that song came out it was everywhere! I can still remember the video. The audience rose to their feet just as they had done with Real Life to get into the hit song they were nostalgic about.
Next on the bill were The Vapors. I have to admit that when they walked out I couldn’t think of what song they were known for. I recognized the name of the band and figured I’d know the song when I heard it, but it was driving me nuts that I couldn’t remember what their big hit was. But then I heard that infamous guitar intro and I knew that their big hit was “Turning Japanese” which charted at #3 in 1980. How iconic 80s is that song? I could see people dancing like crazy as if it was the first time they heard that song.
Following the show, I learned that The Vapors just returned to the music world in 2016 after a 34-year break. That’s why we have shows like Lost 80’s Live. For a band like this to be seen by those who’ve been waiting for most of their lives to see these guys.
Now for me, the part of the show I was most looking forward to was “Farrington & Mann. Original Members of When In Rome”. “The Promise” was one of my favorite songs and I’ve been wanting to hear it performed live for some time. The fact of the matter is “The Promise” really is When In Rome’s only big hit. It charted at #11 on the Billboard charts and #1 on the Billboard US Dance Chart. I was curious to see what Farrington & Mann would do, or how long they would play. Would they perform some of their other songs that charted? Nope, no they wouldn’t. The When In Rome original members came out with Rob Juarez on synth and electric drums and performed a ten-minute remix of “The Promise”. What a brilliant idea. The band knows what the audience wants. They want to hear “The Promise”. So they gave it to them and left. I thought it was a smart move and it was my highlight of the night.
How do you talk about the 80s without bringing up these last to bands in the lineup, Wang Chung and A Flock of Seagulls? You can’t! They’re such huge part of that music era. Wang Chung took the stage and the audience was on their feet for the rest of the night. People sang out to songs like “Let’s Go” and a fun version of The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” but instead singing “Should I Wang or Should I Chung”. I had forgotten how much I enjoy the song “Dance Hall Days”. Then, of course, the big song of their set “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”. People were singing and dancing the most they had all night. Those songs brought back so many memories.
A Flock of Seagulls closed things out with a synth-filled set that had everyone in 80s bliss. Lead singer, Mike Score has ditched his iconic New Wave hair for a sleeker shaved head. The band flew through their setlist. Many of the songs I wasn’t familiar with. As I looked around the Sandy Amphitheater I could see people singing every word. My highlight of the set was “Space Age Love Song”. This is one of my favorite songs. And I’m not just talking about 80s songs. I think “Space Age Love Song” is a really well-constructed pop song. The synth is perfect and I love the guitar riff. The hit of the night for everyone else was the final song of the evening, “I Ran”. It’s probably one of the top five most memorable 80s songs. Especially New Wave 80s. People were taken back in time and the costumes they dressed up in seemed more appropriate than ever.
I think a tour like Lost 80s Live is an excellent idea. I think more of these need to happen. Maybe a Lost 80s Hair Band Live? Or an Alternative 80s Live? But at this point, we’re far enough out from the 90s and early 2000’s that we can have compilation tours of those bands as well. It’s a great way to see bands that you might not get to see if they were to tour on their own.