Make no mistake — every act on the mini-music festival known as the Retro Futura Tour is well worth your time and money. Limahl, Tony Lewis, and Modern English are top-notch acts! But you certainly get everything you could want and more during Retro Futura with headliners Belinda Carlisle and ABC starring Martin Fry, and both absolutely stunned in their turns on the tour at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in New Jersey on Saturday.
There is no one more radiant than Belinda Carlisle. The lead singer of The Go-Go’s has been back with the band that made her famous this year, particularly as they have a Broadway music titled “Head Over Heals,” but she reminded everyone at Retro Futura that she alone is worth the price of admission even without her girl gang.
Throughout a nine-song set, Belinda burst into classics from The Go-Go’s, including “Head Over Heals,” “Vacation,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” and “We Got the Beat,” hitting all three of the first studio albums by the Los Angeles new wavers — Beauty and the Beat from 1981, Vacation from 1982, and Talk Show from 1984. That streak of amazing albums would alone make for a memorable career, but thankfully Belinda offered even more thanks to a successful solo career than began in 1985.
And so, Belinda opened with “Mad About You,” the sultry and soaring single from her 1986 debut album Belinda — and then she invested some time into her smash second album, Heaven on Earth, with “I Get Weak,” “Circle in the Sand,” and set closer “Heaven Is a Place on Earth.” The raw and powerful rendition of “Heaven Is a Place on Earth,” a song that alone has enjoyed new appreciation lately, began with a spoken word cadence that later erupted with lively power, electrifying the very full house at the Bergen Performing Arts Center.
In performance, Belinda hypnotized with a smile and a dance, brimming with confidence as she circled her microphone. Belinda for me was ever an early critical favorite. Her punk origins sounded daring! Los Angeles sounded exciting! And I could listen to Belinda any time, and day, and she would banish my cares with that distinctively warm voice.
Here are some pictures of Ms. Belinda Carlisle performing during Retro Futura at the Bergen Performing Arts Center on July 14.
What if James Bond could sing? Superman were to retire as a pop star? Why they would assuredly be Martin Fry, the gentleman crooner of New Romantic act ABC.
The dashing man from Sheffield, England, seemed to loom large over us all as he opened his set with “When Smokey Sings” from ABC’s fourth stydio album, Alphabet City, in 1987. It didn’t take long for Martin to reach back to his famous first album, The Lexicon of Love, which is still so well embraced that it has become synonymous with his name and sterling reputation as a top performer.
Early in ABC’s 10-song set, Martin sang “Poison Arrow” from The Lexicon of Love, and he closed the set with “The Look of Love,” the global 1982 hit song that put ABC on the map. Although ABC largely consists of a completely refreshed lineup since 2008 (aside from Martin and standout guitarist Matt Backer), Martin ingeniously crafted a sequel to The Lexicon of Love in 2016, an excellent album titled of course The Lexicon of Love II.
From that album, Martin sang the anthemic “Viva Love” as the second song in his set, making me yearn for the possibility that I as an American might see ABC perform both concept albums back-to-back. Maybe there must be a solution to the one thing, the one thing we can’t find?
The rest of ABC’s set was equally thrilling, and I could sing the praises of every song by ABC, all top tunes, all day. I will say however that it is always a pleasure to hear anything from the whimsical How to Be a… Zillionaire, ABC’s remarkable third album, whether it’s the playful “How to Be a Millionaire,” the cautionary “Vanity Kills,” or the earnest “Be Near Me.” Thankfully, ABC played all three of those earworms.
Take a look at Mr. Martin Fry and ABC performing during Retro Futura at the Bergen Performing Arts Center on July 14.
That recaps Part 2 of our two-part overview of the Retro Futura Tour 2018. Don’t miss the Retro Futura Tour, which sets up shop next in Salt Lake City on July 20 and continues across the country through Aug. 4. For all of the details, visit the Retro Futura Tour website.