The Bangles At The Troubadour, Friday May 29th 2015, Review
I may not have seen the Rolling Stones at the Henry Fonda last week, or U2 at the Roxy the other night, but I got to see the Bangles at the Troubadour on Friday night and that totally counts since these girls are part of my nostalgia! The girl band formed in 1980 and I was watching this ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ video every time it was on TV – and at the time it was very often. I guess my brother had a crush on Susanna Hoffs, which was totally understandable, and he could very well still have this big crush because she is still a babe, as are sisters Vicki and Debbi Peterson… So, could I say hurrah for women over 50? Because with the first of their two sold-out shows at the Troubadour, they certainly proved that they still can rock with grace their sweet songs.
I was not living in Los Angeles when I was listening to the Bangles in the 80’s but the three girls are a 100% Los Angeles product, an indie garage band which was catapulted to success thanks to great hits and four good looking girls. I liked the fact they were an all-female band, with a sexy attitude but also very catchy pop tunes and this malicious smile in the corner of Susanna Hoffs’s mouth.
They were all smile at the Troubadour, they actually couldn’t stop smiling, happy to be back on stage, and the spirit of the good old days was there. It was a rather early show, starting at 9 pm, with no other band opening, so we were served the main meal right away and the crowd (I should say a bit older than usual) was totally cool with that. But why did the Bangles disappear so suddenly in the 80’s? According to what I have read, after having a number one song ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’, they hadn’t still received any good money, despite the fact that Prince contacted them to give them a song which became a radio hit (‘Manic Monday’)… were did the money go, I am still wondering.
All set-long it was harmony-galore of course, the Bangles are known for their lush vocal harmonies, but also jangly guitars, and catchy pop-tunes inspired of the 60’s. Some songs had a early Beatles-Byrds-esque vibe and the energy was cool, on the mellow side though, as the Bangles have always stayed on the cute side of power-pop and never really ventured to punk energy. But they got into more action with bluesier guitars later on, especially when Kathy Valentine from the GoGo’s joined them on stage for their famous hit ‘Manic Monday’ and a few other gems. She was a special guest, another famous woman from an all-female band of the 80’s and after a vibrant and rocking version of the Simon & Garfunkel cover ‘A Hazy Shade of Winter’, they dedicated the next one, ‘If She Knew’, a ‘girl-centric’ kind of song, to Kathy and all the girls in the room. All night long, they shared vocals, harmonizing and alternatively singing the lead part, but the crowd was also heavily participating during their most famous ones.
I hadn’t realized this, but the Bangles reformed around 2000 when Hoffs’ husband (filmmaker Jay Roach) asked them to write a song for a scene of his movie ‘The Spy Who Shagged Me’… and two Bangles albums later (‘Doll Revolution’ in 2003 and ‘Sweetheart of the Sun’ in 2011), the girls are back, even though they didn’t showcase too much of this relatively new material, preferring rewarding the audience with a large display of their whole career. Furthermore, they are certainly not embarking in a mammoth tour à la Rolling Stones – hey, they totally could ride this same nostalgia wave – but they just played 4 sold-out shows in southern California, in May.
When I was watching them on TV back in the 80’s, I remember them all-glam and made up, with big 80’s hair. So I thought it was a bit strange to see them so close, moving in front of me and looking so… normal. Vicki Peterson looked down to earth, she was grimacing when they had a slight technical problem, giving high-five to some guy in the crowd, really interacting with a girl-next-door attitude. Susanna has always been the charming cute one, shorter than the others, and she still have the sweetest voice ever, sounding like another layer of icing sugar over pound cake, but she started talking to the crowd during the technical interruption with a great natural. I could not see Debbi Peterson’s face because she was sitting behind her drumset, but when she took a guitar for the two last songs, I got the same impression, there wasn’t an ounce of rock-star-attitude in any of them. And with all this smiling energy, they may even have been too friendly, putting no barrier between them and their audience. After two expected encores, during which they gave us some of their best hits, ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’, and ‘Eternal Flame’, and more sing-alongs, it was over, sooner than usual. May be this show was a necessary visit to the 80’s, a trip to nostalgia, or may be not, It just had the feel of a happy family reunion.
Ride the Ride
Some Dreams Come True
Live (The Merry-Go-Round cover)
I’m in Line
He’s got a secret
A Hazy Shade of Winter (Simon and Garfunkel cover)
If She Knew What she Wants (cover of Jules Shear)
Going Down to Liverpool (Katrina and the Waves cover)
September Gurls (Big Star cover)
Ball N Chain
Open My Eyes (Nazz cover)
In Your room
How is the Air Up There
Hero Takes a Fall
Walk Like An Egyptian