I’ve been meaning to write this article for the last few days, but somehow the time slipped away and it was dinner before I knew it. So I’m trying a different strategy today and writing it first. Paid work can wait. On Sunday night I headed to my old stomping ground of Newcastle to catch the ‘80s Mania show.
If you missed the memo, ‘80s Mania has seen Cutting Crew, Paul Young, Nik Kershaw, and Go West winding their around Aussie RSLs and delighting those of us who refuse to let go of one of music’s most entertaining decades. Now when I say we had Cutting Crew and Go West I use the term a little loosely. There were just a couple of members of these British acts, but the main talent was still with us and a super-tight band of young things helped make up the numbers. I’m not sure where they found these guys, but they did a wonderful job of slotting in with whichever act they accompanied at the time.
Cutting Crew kicked off the night with an explosive set. Nick Van Eede is a proper ‘80s star, with vintage moves like the one where you go down to your knees when you’re overcome with emotion and the one where you point out to the audience, convincing the girls that you’re singing right to them. It was as cheesy as it sounded, but it was so easy to get swept up in it. I don’t remember people waxing lyrical about guitarist Gareth Moulton in the ‘80s, but he blew me away. A song called “Till the Money Run$ Out” from a brand new album let us all know that Cutting Crew are more than just a nostalgia act. “(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight” was the song we all came to hear, and it delivered. A cover of REM’s “The One I Love” was an unexpected but incredible closer.
Paul Young followed, and after seeing him with Tony Hadley at the same venue a few years ago my expectations were low. I was glad of this, because it saved me being disappointed. Don’t get me wrong. Paul Young has so much charm. His songs, including “Every Time You Go Away” and “Love of the Common People,” were probably the strongest of the night. I knew every one, and sang along enthusiastically, both because I love them and because Paul just can’t cut it vocally any more. His voice lacks the range it used to have, and even the notes he can reach don’t sound nearly as strong as they did decades ago. On a night of such incredible acts, his failings really showed.
For the final portion of the night Nik Kershaw joined forces with Go West. A cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” opened a set which was a real mixed bag. They tended to play a cover together, then one act would go off to rest while the other treated us to their originals, before teaming up for another joint number. I was only born in 1980 so I didn’t know all of the songs, but they were performed so well that it didn’t matter. I’d actually seen Go West a few years back (also with Tony Hadley, because where he goes I follow), and they were every bit as good as I remember. The big hits “We Close Our Eyes” and “King of Wishful Thinking” were so much fun, but anything sounds good when Peter Cox is singing it. Nik Kershaw surprised me in the best possible way. I’d forgotten how much I love “The Riddle,” and “Wouldn’t It Be Good” took me right back to my childhood. “Sex On Fire” was an unlikely closer for these two ‘80s acts, but it was so much fun I don’t think anyone minded that it was a few decades after the shows themes.
According to Facebook, the organisers are already hard at work on ‘80s Mania 2016. After all the fun of this year’s event, I’ll be there with bells on.
Image source: own photos