(Originally published on MOLI 2/12/8)
I try not to indulge in nostalgia (though you wouldnâ€™t necessarily know that from the shows Iâ€™ve been reviewing here). But why else would one go to a Go-Goâ€™s concert? Unlike Iggy Pop or Deborah Harry, the 1980s California garage-poppers have not kept up a body of new work since their heyday. So I hereby admit: Beauty and the Beat was in heavy rotation on my turntable when I was a purple-haired misfit in a Midwestern small town. Seeing as how I never saw them then, or since, I went to the Jackie Gleason Theater (currently known as the Fillmore Miami Beach at) February 8 hoping to hear â€œWeâ€™ve Got the Beat,â€ â€œOur Lips Are Sealed,â€ etc.
Written off by sexist twats as gimmicky fluff, the Go-Goâ€™s were/are skilled musicians with a twisted sense of humor and a gift for sly pop hooks that every indie rocker live or dead — including Elvis Costello — would trade a lifetime supply of overpriced, oversized spectacles for. Yes, on songs like â€œToniteâ€ and â€œVacation,â€ they celebrate girlish pleasures — but with wicked glee. They dressed Friday not in candy-colored miniskirts (unlike some of the middle-aged fans in the audience) but all in black. Individual players have venerable punk pedigrees: Textones, Edie Massey, Germs (almost).
Unfortunately, I still havenâ€™t really seen the Go-Goâ€™s: Guitarist Jane Wiedlin left the tour because, as bassist Kathy Valentine announced, â€œher momâ€™s dying.â€ Replacement Eve Monsees laid down a couple pretty gnarly, noisy solos. Mostly, it was Charlotte Caffey who played bandleader — and singer Belinda Carlisle who pulled a bit of a diva intro, taking the stage after an instrumental number by her bandmates, as if sheâ€™s James Brown or something. Yeah, Belindaâ€™s a stone fox and a really great singer. But the amazing thing about the Go-Goâ€™s is they were the first all-female rock band (i.e., with female instrumentalists, not only a vocal group) to have a major impact on the charts.
So seeing them, incomplete or not, wasnâ€™t just about reliving the past: It was an act of honoring history. And great fun.