For most concerts press photography is allowed during the first 3 songs only so I have a routine to just write down a few keywords during that time and then flesh out the review once my cameras are put away. Well, that routine went out the window at last night’s Retro Futura show at the State Theatre. With 6 bands on the bill most sets were limited to 3-4 songs, but, oh boy, what glorious short sets they were! Retro Futura combines some of the best of 80s music on tour.
Of course a lineup that heavy on New Wave demanded that Minneapolis’ DJ Jake Rudh do the opening honors and he entertained fans with his usual blend of New Wave staples and a couple of surprise tracks thrown in. Somehow each time I hear him, he brings out a song that I almost forgot about and I have to add to my playlist post haste. It’s always a challenge cramming that many artists into one evening and Retro Futura’s format worked really well. Yes, the sets were short and sweet, but with so many hits and styles spread among all the performers they kept everyone’s attention through the whole show.
Katrina from Katrina & the Waves
Katrina Leskanich opened the show with many people still finding their seats but that did not hamper the energy of her performance one bit. Her last song was “Walking on Sunshine” and she had the crowd on their feet, singing, and dancing in what must be a world record time from show start to 100 miles an hour
Paul Young was a personal favorite of mine growing up (even though I did not always admit it) so I was quite excited to be able to see him live for the first time. Wow! What a showman! His voice still sounds great and his command of the stage was outstanding. He connected with a couple of fans in front row and his mike stand was put through several acrobatic routines and used as a swagger stick for a bit.
Dressed in all white Modern English transitioned the set from solo singers backed up by a band to the full band being on stage. They just release a new album “Take Me To The Trees” last year. Singer Robbie Grey brought out Paul Young to join the band for their closing number “I Melt With You”. They will be back at the Turf Club in November.
The English Beat
Thankfully the State Theatre has a large stage, because The English Beat showed up with their full 10 member band. Lighting had a hard time keeping up on the rapidly changing focus with Dave Wakeling, King Schascha and sax player Matt Morrish taking rapid turns as front men. The ska sound had the crowd at their most energetic all night and was a challenge to State Theatre’s seated environment with fans dancing all over.
Men Without Hats
Ivan Doroschuk is the sole remaining member from the band’s original lineup. He worked the stage as hard as Paul Young bit in a more casual, fun way. The second song of the set “Where Do The Boys Go?” was dedicated to Allan McCarthy, one of the original members who passed in 1995. Of course they had to close with “The Safety Dance”
As the headliner Jones got a longer set and given the amounts of hit he has created, that’s a good thing. Coming on stage behind a LED lit umbrella, he quickly strapped on his signature keytar. Several of his songs had everyone singing in chorus, especially “No One Is To Blame”. “Equality” had a very dance heavy intro. Jones switched effortlessly between keytar, a standing keyboard and just vocals through his set.
All in all, I loved the format and that I was able to see so many of artists that provided the soundtrack of my teenage years in one night.