Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Eternal Flamer: A Night With Susanna Hoffs and Belinda Carlisle at Largo

After countless trains, planes and automobiles, I am happy to report I did manage to salvage my trip to Los Angeles, including one night with Susanna Hoffs (and Friends) at Largo, which is now located in the old Coronet Theatre on La Cienega just around the corner from the bungalow I lived in nearly 25 years ago. Susanna, adorably awkward as ever, was in forever fine form, looking and sounding like it was still 1987 as she busted out of the gate with the fitting "Hazy Shade of Winter." She followed it with a violin-heavy reworking of "Manic Monday," which then had her dreaming of her Prince as she segued into "Take Me With U," perhaps the biggest surprise of the night. Next was Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine" (popularized by Judy Collins, as were most songs back in the day) from the "Rainy Day" project before introducing special guest -- and fellow Southern California girl -- Belinda Carlisle.

Belinda, who is still stunning at 57 but in an increasingly Priscilla Presley way and sounding more and more like a huskier Cher (or Jack McFarland as Mrs. Bono), was in a fun mood as she slinked about the stage and provided the big-sister leadership Sue so desperately lacks when away from her Bangles. Mrs. Mason kicked things into high gear with the Go-Go's classic "This Town," which was even more exhilarating with Sue singing co-lead. "Circle in the Sand," "How Much More" and "Different Drum," the Stone Poneys classic Sue covered with Matthew Sweet a decade ago, rounded out the set before "Best Week Ever" comedian Doug Benson did a brief Q&A that was funny if a little too reliant on stoner humor. (That he was such a fanboy nearly excused him.) A less-effective-than-one-might-expect piano-only version of "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" and a more-crowd-pleasing-than-you'd-expect "Leave a Light On" (with Sue relying heavily on a cheat sheet to sing backup on a song that has about three lines) were followed by "In Your Room," which was the evening's highlight not only because it's such a brilliant song, but because Belinda seemed truly thrilled to be backing Susanna up on it. (When asked during the Q&A, Belinda said "Eternal Flame" is her favorite Bangles song, but clearly this is not true!) Susanna's finest solo moment followed with a background-vocals-free version of "Hero Takes a Fall," the should've-been-a-hit from her band's debut long play, "All Over the Place," which was anything but. Things got stand-up-fun during the encore of "Our Lips Are Sealed" (with Sue still clinging to a page of lyrics!) and "Walk Like an Egyptian," which I always try to dismiss but always concede loving in the end. A better choice ofsequencing would have probably ended it in that high note, but then the Bangles' mega-smash "Eternal Flame" was still outstanding, as was the (momentum-busting) performance of it. A great show by two icons of the '80s who could not be more different, yet work so well together. (A national tour was strongly hinted at.)

With Jim and Danny, two of my three partners in crime ...


TomF said...

So happy for you that you made it. Thanks for the recap and the great pics. Your friend Jim is dreamy :)

Blobby said...

Glad you got there. I think I would have liked to see Belinda sing back-up for Hoffs. And now I can't stop thinking now of Jack McFarland singing "If I Could Turn Back Time".

Bob K said...

YOU MADE IT! Neither storm nor rain, etc. Glad for you.

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