80s Mania: Cutting Crew, Paul Young, Wang Chung, Go West, Taylor Dayne – ASB Theatre November 5, 2017


Five 80s hitmakers descended on Auckland last night serving up nostalgia wrapped in pastels and latex.

Actually, it was the audience that showed up decked out in brightly-coloured latex outfits, which, for me, only re-enforced my trepidation of taking a musical journey back to this most dreaded decade.

I know, for some, the 80s represent the last of the golden pop years. This attitude, no doubt is dependent upon when you were born. If you were a teenager in 1983, it’s no surprise that you might want to re-live your infatuation with the likes of Paul Young.

The 5-act show began with Cutting Crew, or at least lead vocalist Nick Van Eede. The rest of the band was fleshed out by a quartet of house musicians (drums, guitar, keys and bass) and, for Cutting Crew and additional guitarist who may have also been an original member.

They quickly ran through their allotted 20 minutes, featuring their biggest hit (I Just) Died In Your Arms in fine fashion. The sound seemed a bit muddy, but I wrote this off to being early in the evening, surely it would improve. The fans seemed not to notice.

Up next, surprisingly, was Paul Young, who I would have thought would have been allotted a later, longer placement. He whipped through four songs in 20 minutes…Wherever I Lay My Hat, I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down, Every Time You Go Away and Come Back And Stay.

Young’s voice seemed a bit ragged, but he looked good and seemed to be having fun. Unfortunately, the sound in the venue wasn’t improving.

I admit that the prospect of sitting through Wang Chung was just too daunting for me, so I took the opportunity to take an ice cream break in the lobby. I could not bring myself to Wang Chung tonight.

Shortly after, the rest of the crowd poured out for a brief intermission.

When we reconvened, we were faced with Go West. I immediately felt for vocalist Peter Cox. Not because he had to sing We Close Our Eyes for what must have been the 1000th time, but because the sound situation got considerably worse with the band being mixed so loudly that the vocalists had to scream to be heard.  The resulting sound was almost unbearable.

Not surprisingly, fans began leaving the venue before headliner Taylor Dayne could take the stage. Who could blame folks for wanting to preserve their hearing?

Taylor gave it her best shot, beginning with a cover of Barry White’s Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe. She is endowed with a voice that was made to cut through the mess that the sound engineer had provided for her and just sang through it.

It wasn’t subtle, but she was heard.

Unfortunately subtly was called for during Nothing Compares 2 U, her tribute to Prince. Instead, Taylor belted it out and the audience continued to depart. By the time she got to Tell It To My Heart, the atmosphere was quite “intimate”.

Most folks who remained looked like they were determined to have a good time…and they did. But both the performers on stage and the fans in the audience deserved better.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Veronica McLaughlin: