The 80s have a special place in my heart, as they do for millions of others. Sadly, after attending Lost 80s Live at Place Bell, I feel like that special place in my heart has been violated…defiled, even. I said to my friend Liz on the dismal walk back to the metro as we searched for answers as to what we’d just witnessed, “Lost 80s Live should have never been found.”
I’ll start by saying that this doesn’t all fall on the bands and poor performances, though yes, many of these abbreviated fifteen-to-twenty-minute sets sounded like the bands doing karaoke versions of their own songs. I’ll take it one step further…it was as if the bands showed up at a family member’s funeral with a karaoke machine and tried to bring a little life into the room. The crowd was absolutely dull; a hoard of zombies would have shown more emotion on that dance floor. (You couldn’t even call it a dance floor! Just a floor.)
Anyway, this show had a lot more working against it than just the bands being out of touch (Hall & Oates anyone?) and the crowd not being into it. How in the actual fuck is it even remotely possible to promote an 80s throwback show on the very same night that Simple Minds are playing in the very same city!!!! Right there, the target audience is essentially cut in half. Also, this was not the right venue for the event, it should have been moved somewhere more accommodating to smaller audiences. And why was there no merch booth!? This show could have easily capitalized on the nostalgia of the 80s and moved some serious merch! Then again…do zombies buy t-shirts? I’m not sure. Hoodies, maybe? It gets cold out there hunting for flesh in the undead hoard.
Let’s talk about the music. I was right fired up to get to hear Nu Shooz perform “I Can’t Wait,” a classic that I feel doesn’t get enough love from 80s nostalgia heads. (Side note: My personal favourite Nu Shooz song is “Point Of No Return.” It boggles my mind how it only got to number 28 on the Billboards if “I Can’t Wait” got to number three!) But I digress. These abbreviated fifteen-to-twenty-minute sets made it virtually impossible for the bands to get into any rhythm (probably also the reason the crowd was so lethargic). Add to this that it basically took the samefifteen-to-twenty-minutes for set changeoverss and really, all hope was lost. I get it…these bands are largely one-hit wonders, but couldn’t something have been done to expedite the change over time? Or at the very least something to hold peoples attention? Videos? Naked Eyes were there to perform “Always Something There to Remind Me.” They performed it, and now there’s always something there to remind me of how Naked Eyes suck live. When In Rome had technical difficulties!!!!! I’m sorry, but if your set is fifteen-minutes long and you have technical difficulties, what are we even doing here!? I guess they were one hit wonders for a reason.
Who was next? Does it even matter at this point? Animotion finally shot a little life into the night, engaging and joking with the crowd and delivering a solid version of their hit “Obsession.” Wang Chung were another saving grace; “Dance Hall Days” and “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” were unequivocally the best moments of the night.
A Flock of Seagulls butchered “I Ran,” again calling to mind the very band who wrote the song doing a karaoke version of their own hit. This was some twilight-zone shit. I’ve sang this song better myself in karaoke bars after ample pitchers of beer and other sundries. And I ran, I ran so far away, from Place Bell. Not before catching a bit of Men Without Hats. I’ll say this…there was a lot more missing than just their hats. I left before “Safety Dance,” concerned more with my own personal safety and general wellbeing.
This could have been an incredible night, filled with 80s nostalgia and partying, but it was largely a dud; summed up perfectly by Liz at some dreary point throughout the show, “I love this song! The band is totally gonna ruin it for me, though.”
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Kate Erickson