By John Curley
At a packed Roseland Ballroom in New York City on Wednesday, June 19th, The Go-Gos and The B-52s performed a co-headline show that was heavy on the hits and left the audience leaving the venue very happy.
First up were The Go-Gos. Having parted ways with longtime bassist Kathy Valentine earlier this year, The Go-Gos are currently comprised of Belinda Carlisle (lead vocals), Jane Wiedlin (guitar and vocals), Charlotte Caffey (guitar, keyboards, and vocals), and Gina Shock (drums). Kicking off their set with an energetic “Get Up And Go,” The Go-Gos had the crowd roaring from the start. Given the pop-rock sheen on their studio recordings, it was a welcomed surprise to hear how punky The Go-Gos sound live. Even their version of Belinda Carlisle’s pop hit single “Mad About You” had an edge to it. The trio of covers performed in the middle of the set—the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black,” Sparks’ “Cool Places,” and “Cool Jerk” by The Capitols—all got a big hand from the crowd. “Cool Places” began with Carlisle and Wiedlin doing strutting dance steps from one side of the stage to the other, which drew a good bit of applause from the crowd. The Go-Gos brought several audience members onstage to dance and play tambourine during “Cool Jerk,” which also drew cheers from the audience. Despite talk of internal strife within the band due to the departure of Valentine and other factors, The Go-Gos seemed to be really enjoying themselves during their 80-minute set.
But The Go-Gos saved the best bits of their show for the end. A mashup of their own “We Got The Beat” with “Rock And Roll All Nite” by Kiss drew huge cheers from the crowd. An extended version of their best song, “Our Lips Are Sealed” (which Wiedlin co-wrote with Terry Hall of The Specials), served as the closing song of their main set and brought the house down. And a propulsive “Head Over Heels” that concluded the encore left the audience wanting more. It was good to see Gina Shock come out from behind the drum kit to do the band introductions prior to the start of the encore.
It was something of a tough task for The B-52s to follow The Go-Gos onstage after The Go-Gos had performed such an energetic set. Unfortunately, Cindy Wilson appeared to be a bit under the weather. The B-52s had to postpone several shows prior to the Roseland concert due to Wilson being ill. At Roseland, Wilson’s vocals didn’t sound as powerful as they had in the past. But Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson were both in top form, and their 70-minute set was very entertaining. (Longtime B-52s member Keith Strickland no longer tours with the band.) Augmented by Sterling Campbell (drums), Paul Gordon (keyboards and guitar), Tracy Wormworth (bass), and an additional guitarist, The B-52s mined their songbook of quirky hits to the delight of the crowd. Beginning their set with “Planet Claire” to a huge roar from the audience, The B-52s had the crowd interested from the start.
The performances of “Private Idaho,” “Roam,” and “Love Shack” were all well received by the crowd. But the biggest hand of The B-52’s set went to their final song of the night. The crowd went bonkers when they performed “Rock Lobster.” Many in the crowd were pogoing up and down and cheering so loud that they almost drowned out the band. It was a pleasure and a privilege to witness that, and was a great way to end the show.
Both bands have been in existence since the late 1970s, but they still deliver the goods live. It was a fun and very entertaining night of music in New York City.
The Go-Gos setlist was as follows:
Get Up And Go
How Much More
Mad About You (Belinda Carlisle song)
Paint It Black (Rolling Stones cover)
Cool Places (Sparks cover)
Cool Jerk (The Capitols cover)
Skidmarks On My Heart
We Got The Beat
Rock And Roll All Nite (Kiss cover)
Our Lips Are Sealed
Lust To Love
Head Over Heels
The B-52s setlist was as follows:
Girl From Ipanema Goes To Greenland
Dance This Mess Around
Too Much To Think About
Love In The Year 3000