For anyone born in the 80’s, the names Paul Young, Nik Kershaw, Cutting Crew and Go West will ring more than a few nostalgic bells! Each of the acts were predominant forces in pop music during their heyday; dominating the charts throughout the world a few times as each turned out a handful of hit singles during their time at the top.
The biggest of them all was easily 3 time Brit Award winner Young who offered us hit singles including Love of the Common People, Come Back and Stay, Wherever I Lay My Hat and of course his signature hit, Everytime You Go Away. Nik Kershaw was not too far behind Young with tracks like The Riddle and Wouldn’t It Be Good gaining the musician a legion of followers and a couple of chart additions. Pop duo Go West found enormous success with the Pretty Woman soundtrack hit King of Wishful Thinking, as well as Faithful, Call Me and We Close Our Eyes helping the pair shift more than a few units around the globe. While Cutting Crew may not have had the duplicated success as the Young, Kershaw or Go West, the band are still regarded as 80’s staples thanks to their U.S number one debut single (I Just) Died In Your Arms which has held up exceptionally well since its release back in 1986.
The four acts have now decided to bring their hits together and take to the road for a joint tour of Australia under the banner of 80’s Mania. Last night was Sydney’s turn and we excitedly went along to the show to see how the classics have stood up over the last few decades.
The crowd was already pretty buzzed long before the show, some dressed in retro attire and flocking to the merchandise stand for a few bits of memorabilia.
The show was an early starter with Cutting Crew taking the opening honours at a little after 7:45pm. Founding member and front man Nick Van Eede shone during the bands brief but memorable 5 song set as he delivered several of the outfits numbers including a phenomenal (and gloriously lengthy) version of the bands debut worldwide hit single, (I Just) Died In Your Arms with fellow member Gareth Moulton mastering the tracks intricate and iconic guitar solo and a 3 minute guitar blazing intro to the hit. Having taken the lead guitarist reigns from former member Kevin MacMichael who passed away in 2002, there were some pretty big shoes to fill on the track but Moulton pulled it off impeccably.
With a brand new album landing in a couple of weeks in the shape of Add to Favourites, the band also had the opportunity to show off some of their new material with the albums lead single Till The Money Run$ Out – described on the night by Van Eede as a song “about an ex who married atrociously” – proving a hit with the fans and providing a nice break between the aged classic from the bands catalogue which also included early power ballad I’ve Been In Love Before.
Having had his luggage go missing in Melbourne airport this week, as Van Eede explained to the crowd, the musician was certainly in a chirpy mood throughout the set as he bounced energetically around the small Enmore stage in casual attire, ending the bands set with a reggae infused cover of R.E.M hit The One I Love before the band waved to the crowd and made way for blue-eyed soul man Paul Young.
Diving straight into some of his biggest hits with a voice that is as distinctive as it is symbolic to his era, performances of Love of the Common People and Come Back and Stay found an early place in Young’s set. As someone who had grown up with Paul Young’s music from a very young age it pains me to say that the performer was not at his iconic best during last night’s set – particularly during these two opening numbers which were more spoken than sung. Both sounded butchered and lacklustre from the singer who was clearly struggling to keep the momentum to the level left by Cutting Crew.
Thankfully things started to improve during Youngs set in the latter half of Wherever I Lay My Hat which had the crowd singing along with the crooner for the most part. A united sing-a-long with his band for Senza Una Donna and I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down showed promise before closing classic and Young signature power ballad Every Time You Go Away had sections of the crowd up on their feet and belting along to the number with the singer.
His performance, which was also struck by a mic malfunction during the opening verses of I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down, was sadly the least memorable of the night which came as a huge surprise given the musicians career and strong catalogue. It seemed that even his sharp blue suit and quick footwork couldn’t distract the crowd from hearing a voice that sounded very weathered for the duration of his segment of the show. Despite all of the hiccups however, it was still a pretty mind-blowing experience to be watching this 80’s icon perform some of the most successful hit singles of his decade and songs that I had grown up listening to.
After a 20 minute interval which allowed the crowd to flock back to the merchandise stand and stretch their legs, Go West and Nik Kershaw prepared themselves for the rowdy crowd who were taking positions in any available floor space in the venue for a boogie with their idols.
While Cutting Crew and Paul Young held their own stage time during the show, for the most part of Kershaw and Go Wests performances, the stage was shared. As Go West front man Peter Cox towered over a pint-sized Kershaw, the hits flowed from both acts including outstanding live renditions of Wide Boy and The Riddle from Kershaw and a spot on performance of Faithful from Go West.
Standing ovations were given to Kershaw’s Wouldn’t It Be Good and Go Wests We Close Our Eyes but Go Wests King of Wishful Thinking and Kershaw’s I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me had every single person in the sold out venue up on their feet, dancing along and belting out the words along with the 80’s pop heroes.
Perhaps one of the more surprising aspects of this segment of the show was the volume of covers the musicians chose to use for their time on stage. With both acts having their name against a weighty catalogue of 8 studio albums each – many of which contained hits for each act, particularly those from the early years of their respective careers – deciding to incorporate so many covers, including an opening cover of the Tears For Fears classic Everybody Wants to Rule the World and a closing performance of the Kings of Leon hit Sex on Fire, was baffling to say the least. Despite this however, the acts delivered each and every hit with enthusiasm and energy and seemed to be really enjoying taking on some of his peers signature numbers.
Go West executed their set superbly. Vocalist Peter Cox was on top form and offered the crowd energetic and unaltered renditions of their classics. Their performance last night was of record quality and Cox did his best to keep the numbers as close to the original recorded versions as possible with ad-libs and backing vocals intact.
The final quarter of the show really gave an energetic lift to the whole night as we got to hear pitch perfect and record quality versions of some of the biggest hits from the 80’s from both acts before a storming version of Kings of Leon hit Sex on Fire brought the show to a close and blew the roof off the Enmore Theatre.
Go West, Kershaw and the backing band then waved goodnight to the crowd which strangely went ahead without Young or Cutting Crew joining them for the farewell bow.
While there were a few lacklustre moments during the solid set of some 20 something hits, the chance of hearing such an array of 80’s staples and retro classics would make anyone who grew up in or close to the decade weak at the knees.
Despite the show containing some awkward moments such as Young’s unfortunate overshadowing within the line-up as well as the fact that neither Young or Cutting Crew were included in the final bow to the audience which capped off the night, the show went virtually without a hitch and as the crowd flowed from the venue, an overall feeling of satisfaction was felt as people spoke of their favourite moments.
One For The Mockingbird
Till The Money Run$ Out
I’ve Been In Love Before
(I Just) Died In Your Arms
The One I Love (R.E.M. cover)
Love of the Common People
Come Back and Stay
Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)
Senza Una Donna
I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down
Every Time You Go Away
Nik Kershaw & Go West
Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Tears for Fears cover)
Nik Kershaw & Go West
Wings (Birdy cover)
Don’t Look Down
Black and Gold (Sam Sparro cover)
Nik Kershaw & Go West
Would I Lie to You? (Eurythmics cover)
We Close Our Eyes (Go West)
Wouldn’t It Be Good (Nik Kershaw)
King of Wishful Thinking (Go West)
I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (Nik Kershaw)
Sex on Fire (Kings of Leon cover)
::: RenownedForSound.com’s Editor and Founder –
Interviewing and reviewing the best in new music and globally recognized artists is his passion.
Over the years he has been lucky enough to review thousands of music releases and concerts and interview artists ranging from top selling superstars like 27-time Grammy Award winner Alison Krauss, Boyz II Men, Roxette, Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Loeb and iconic Eagles front man/songwriter, Glenn Frey through to more recent successes including Newton Faulkner, Janelle Monae and Caro Emerald.
Brendon manages and coordinates the amazing team of writers on RenownedForSound.com who are based in the UK, the U.S and Australia.