Cy Curnin fronts The Fixx at The Birchmere on Aug. 15, 2018. (All photos by Chester Simpson; Words by Mickey McCarter)
The Fixx showcased Reach to the Beach, their remarkable second album, to mark its 35th anniversary in a sold-out show at The Birchmere on Wednesday. In doing so, the band’s classic lineup demonstrated the talents that gave them cross-genre success over the course of 10 studio albums.
Vocalist Cy Curnin stood at the front of the stage to lead drummer Adam Woods, keyboardist Rupert Greenall, guitarist Jamie West-Oram, and bassist Dan K. Brown through two sets — the first consisting of Reach to the Beach performed in reverse order of its tracklist and the second of other hits and notable songs from across their career.
Playing Reach the Beach in reverse was a masterstroke, particularly as it ended the first set on The Fixx’s most recognizable song, “One Things Leads to Another.” Each song was accompanied by a video presentation, and the video for “One Thing Leads to Another” alluded to political secrets and lies in an animation that surely seemed pretty familiar to the Washington-area fans.
And of course, toward the end of the first set, The Fixx played “Saved by Zero,” the terrific new wave gem that lent itself to an equally memorable ’80s movie, which inspired everyone in the audience to sing along.
From the start of the show, the distinct personalities of The Fixx emerged immediately through their wardrobe choices. Cerebral frontman Cy, dressed ever as the fashionable rocker, sang with his whole body, guiding words from his mouth through his fingertips and into our ears. Drummer Adam looked the part of an experienced, world-weary Luke Skywalker, returned with wisdom earned through many travels. Keyboardist Rupert seemed to take stylistic cues from “A Clockwork Orange,” which was fitting given that movie’s synth-soundtrack inspired so many great keyboardists in the ’70s and the ’80s. Guitarist Jamie was fit to lead the rock fashion revolution with Cy, while bassist Dan suggested his preference for sailing with a captain’s outfit.
While this collective may have visually covered a lot of ground, sonically they became one. The Fixx handily kept the full attention of the room, and continued to impress upon their return for a second set. Reach the Beach already took us through a tour of their expansive sound, ranging from occasional soft rock think pieces to irresistible dance numbers, and the mix of songs in the second set took them across even more genres.
Early in the second set, The Fixx got downright psychedelic with “Less Cities, More Moving People,” from Phantoms their 1984 follow-up to Reach the Beach. They also played the very crowd-pleasing “Are We Ourselves?” from the same album. If the song sounds archly philosophical, well, it is — and it’s because Cy writes lyrics that reflect on human nature. From 2012’s Beautiful Friction, The Fixx performed “Something Ahead of You,” which at times seemed to strive to Dennis DeYoung-era Styx rock opera grandiosity.
That 2012 album was the last published album by The Fixx, but Cy and company revealed they have the vitality and depth to create some more music if the spirit moves them, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they were to write some more after touring Reach the Beach. Catch them on this tour if you can, as it’s rare to encounter a band with the longevity of The Fixx that will make you want to dance and think at the same time.
Here are some pictures of The Fixx performing at The Birchmere on Aug. 15, 2018. All photos copyright and courtesy of Chester Simpson.