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Concert Review: Regeneration Tour – House of Blues: Boston, MA: 06/17/2009

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So what do you do when your handful (or less than) of hits has dried up and a couple of decades have passed you by? (Not to mention your original core fans now have kids older than they were when they were first heard and saw these synth-led bands ooze out of their MTV screens.) A “package tour” seems to be the best solution all around. First off, more music for your money and, lets be serious, for the most part, you just want to hear the hits and let the band leave the stage and go and cash their nightly paychecks.

The current lineup on this years Regeneration Tour is an interesting, yet not unsurprising, mix of early to mid-80s hit-makers: ABC, Heaven 17, and Wang Chung, alongside the more pop-lite Rock of Cutting Crew.

Cutting Crew’s current line-up is a bit shaky on credibility, as only vocalist Nick Van Eede remains from the original line-up, which beckons one to ask why is the band not called Cutting Crew featuring…well you know!!! Though the band played their hits (“I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight” and “I’ve Been In Love Before”) and were proficient, it was also a stark reminder that the band was not that impressive their first time out, never mind now.

Wang Chung on the other hand was always a great band with good pop-sensibilities. Sure their “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” made them household words, it also rendered them kind of novelty-ish. Which is sad as “Dance Hall Days,” a much better songs of morning ones old hang outs, is a underrated 80s classic, as is the work the band did on the atmospheric soundtrack to the film, To Live And Die In LA (which the band performed in a stripped down acoustic led version) Live in 2009, the band still can deliver and while “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” may still be key in the groups legacy, Wang Chung is a band that still has a chance at offering more.

Heaven 17 were one of the best trios of the New Wave movement. Sadly the band was absent at the show with no explanation. A roadie claimed they were not to be on this part of the tour, but this show was billed that way.

ABC, the shows headliner, was the most impressive all night. Leader Martin Fry was always one of the music scenes most dapper dressed men (comparisons to Roxy Music’s Brian Ferry are frequent). Fry also had some of New Wave’s best pipes and was as true blue eye soul singer (second in the New Wave genre only to Boy George). Fry and drummer David Palmer (who drummed on their legendary Lexicon of Love album and is considered part of the classic ABC lineup) are on board for this tour, though Stephen Singleton and Mark White, also part of the Lexicon days are still opting not to rejoin the band.

Regardless, ABC live still sounds soulful and the material does not sound that dated (especially alongside a Cutting Crew set). Fry is a showman in the Sinatra old school style (nice suit and groomed and all), but much more showy and extroverted.

And, guilty pleasure it is, how can one be happy when you hear “Poison Arrow” (funny, as it is a menacing song of getting dumped), “Look of Love” and the “should have been in a John Hughes movie” song, "That Was Then but This Is Now.”

The Regeneration Tour was, all in all, a fun night for 80s nostalgia. And as Joe Jackson famously (or not so famously) said when he did a Joe Jackson Band reunion tour in 2003, “Nostalgia is like cocaine. It’s not bad in small does.”

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