Review - Here and Now

Date
Published in
The Australian (Australia)
Written by
Julian Tompkin

Venue: Burswood Dome, Perth. Tour: Melbourne tonight (bookings: 132849); Brisbane on Saturday (bookings: 131931); Sydney next Monday (bookings: (02)92664800) Ends: November 17

"History never repeats" was how Split Enz so famously described life at the dawn of the 1980s. Yet here were seven leading acts from that decade bunched together for the first show of the Here and Now national tour, armed with a decent gallery of hits, many more than 20 years old.

It was hardly history repeating itself, what with waistlines a tad wider, the Barbie-blonde locks slightly less believable and the music certified archival material. But that wasn't going to stop Powderfinger precursors 1927 from reclaiming the stage with a short set of melodic classics, from Compulsory Hero to the monumental If I Could.

Mondo Rock - which re-formed for this tour - delivered a convincing Come Said the Boy, the song that helped define Australia's '80s sound before INXS took it to the world. While the UK's Go West brought on the first full synthesiser ambush of the evening, they also confirmed why many seats were left unsold. If 1927 and Go West had little in common, then what hope did Belinda Carlisle and the Human League have in finding common ground?

Still, Carlisle proved a hit, with her timeless ballads Summer Rain, Leave a Light On and Heaven is a Place on Earth. Backed by the solid house band, Carlisle's voice still retains the innocent charm that transformed her into a superstar after leaving the Go-Gos.

It's a shame Paul Young's voice couldn't do the same. By his set's end - including rusty versions of Love of the Common People and Everytime You Go Away - Young managed to mock his legacy with a voice sounding more like Joe Cocker on a three-week bender than a former pop prince.

Kim Wilde had the right attitude. Joking "You don't think I'm too old to sing these songs?", Wilde made it clear she was there for a good time - not to relive her former self. She looked and sounded fantastic, prowling the stage with punk spirit, chanting classics such as You Keep Me Hangin' On and Kids in America.

While the Human League initially alienated most of the nostalgia-hungry audience with that (still credible?) Kraftwerk crossed with Joy Division sound, by the set's end the band reminded people exactly why it was there, with three little electro-pop numbers entitled Love Action, Together in Electric Dreams and Don't You Want Me Baby.

Hardly a crash course in a decade long passed, Here and Now may finally put the '80s to rest in the eyes of Australia. Then again, maybe not.