IF YOU’RE GOING TO SAN FRANCISCO… Wear Bangles In Your Hair

The jangling Los Angeles combo spends
a manic Tuesday at the Fillmore on November 8. Watch videos, below.

 

BY
JUD COST

 

It
felt like a different kind of evening right from the start when the pre-show
program of pop/rock nuggets blared out through the PA of San Francisco’s
venerable Fillmore Auditorium. While the Bangles were putting on their makeup
backstage, “Hey Joe” by the Leaves, “Him Or Me – What’s It Gonna
Be” by Paul Revere & the Raiders and “Go All The Way” by the
Raspberries bounced off the rafters of the ancient hall that once considered
itself way too hip for that kind of stuff back in the heyday of the Airplane,
the Dead and Janis Joplin.

 

The
Bangles have always done it their own way. Still featuring the core group of
guitarists Sue Hoffs and Vicki Peterson and drummer Debbi Peterson, they were
clearly the most polished of any of the combos associated with the Paisley
Underground, 30 years ago. And the reason is still obvious: They absolutely
nail those three-part harmonies, and each of the three girls sings lead with no
drop-off in quality. In their early days, they tried on punkier moniker “the
Bangs” before deciding the Bangles was a better fit. If the Go-Go’s will
forever be linked to the ’70s punk era, the Bangles, and the other Paisley
combos from the ’80s (Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, Green On Red) embraced
psychedelic influences rejected by the punks.

 

It
certainly doesn’t hurt tonight that all three girls, now in their fifties
looked terrific, showing off time well spent in the gym. Sue’s little black
dress was a particular knockout. The trio was accompanied by three guys
(“Guys in an all-girl band? What’s with that!” smirked Debbi). The
testosterone platoon added bass, keyboards and miscellaneous instruments in all
the right places. The set pacing tonight was near perfect, as they alternated
familiar material with songs off their new, Matthew Sweet-produced album, Sweetheart Of The Sun (Model Music Group;
reviewed here at BLURT). “Thanks for your patience,” said Vicki after
a new number. “The rest of you don’t really give a shit.” Sue even
made fun of a recent composition: “Here’s a perky little song about
depression.”

 

 

 

Cherry-picking
covers that fit the girls’ sound helped flesh out the set. “Open My
Eyes,” with its introductory riff lifted from the Who’s “Can’t
Explain,” was a seldom-heard gem from Todd Rundgren’s early days in
Philadelphia band Nazz; it’s the triumphant, closing track on Sweetheart Of The Sun. “In My Own
Time” by The Three O’Clock and Big Star’s “September Gurls” also
sounded especially fine. “That was for Alex,” said Sue of the latter
number, dedicated to the late Alex Chilton. “If we could hug you all in a
group hug, we would.”

 

A
band confident enough to play two of its biggest hits early in the set is rare,
indeed. Their jangling cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Hazy Shade of
Winter” has always been folk-rock bliss, and “Manic Monday,”
written by Prince, topped the national charts for the girls in 1986. When the
Bangles headlined S.F.’s Warfield Theatre that same year, they thrilled the
overflow crowd by bringing “the Purple One” onstage with them for
their encore. He was allegedly hot on the trail of Hoffs, who always insisted
he was “just a good friend.”

 

 

 

“Hero
Takes A Fall,” with Sue’s vocals trading licks with Vicki’s blistering
guitar sounded terrific. But it was perfectly clear the biggest shell in the
arsenal was going to be saved for the encore’s closer.

 

With
its vocal lead swapped back and forth by Debbi and Sue, “Walk Like An
Egyptian” has become the Bangles’ signature number for good reason. With
its angular, quirky, Middle-Eastern sound and exotic rhythms, “Egyptian”
is one of those refrains that sticks in your brain all day. Just point your
flat palms, one up one down, in opposite directions, then keep moving them
every which way while walking stiffly and you’ve got the accompanying dance
down pat.

 

 

 

 

Better
shake that crazy skip before you head down the steep steps of the Fillmore on
your way out, though, or you might be the hero taking a fall tonight.

 

[Awesome live videos (and screenshot) from
the San Francisco
show via ConcertKid2 at YouTube. Salute!
]

 

 

Leave a Reply