I have Been meaning to post this for over 3 weeks now, better late than never i suppose! I rarely take off work to go to concerts, not because I’m a huge work-a-holic or anything – it’s simply because I have a position in which taking a lot of tome off can result in me getting severely behind in work. This results in me missing out on most of the shows I want to really see in any given year. This is especially true with metal shows as they ALWAYS seem to be at random times on Wednesday nights for some ungodly reason around here. I work a weird late shift, and when most people are out doing cool stuff, I’m usually sitting behind a desk doing endless reports and slinging papers.
There are a few exceptions to this, like that time I saw The German electronic legends themselves, Kraftwerk, on their first foray into Kansas City in nearly forty years, or another time when I played hooky to see Dave Wakeling’s force of nature that is The English Beat. For today’s topic, I will be discussing another concert like this – one of my “bucket list shows”. These are bands and artists I want to see before I die or they break up or stop performing altogether. Both The B-52’s and The Thompson Twins are in my top ten of favorite 80’s new wave bands of all time, and I like culture club quite a bit so going in I knew I was in for a treat..
Starlight Theatre’s history began in the 1920s when the Kansas City Federation of Music Clubs advocated the construction of a theatre “under the stars.” Fundraising began with the 1926 visit of Queen Marie of Romania, who had helped secure her country’s support for the Allied forces during World War I. Romania had recently opened its oil fields to America’s Standard Oil Company, so the queen’s tour of the U.S. carried considerable diplomatic significance.
In her six-hour visit to Kansas City, Queen Marie joined President Calvin Coolidge as an honored guest at the opening ceremonies for Liberty Memorial, which was dedicated to the remembrance of World War I. Later that evening, she enjoyed a music concert held at the American Royal Building where thousands of visitors paid admission fees for the chance to see her as well as the organized festivities. The proceeds of $7,000 were earmarked for the construction of an outdoor theatre in Kansas City.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starlight_Theatre_(Kansas_City,_Missouri)
I haven’t been to Starlight Theater in like 20 years or something – I know I attended a production of “The Music Man” there with my parents when I was a teenager (96-97 I believe), but haven’t been back since for reasons of me not paying close attention to most venues, and the fact that I did not drive until I was well into my twenties. That was until recently since I started using a site called Jambase to see all the shows going on around me. That sounds like an advertisement, but it’s really just me hyping a solid website.
Not visiting Starlight more is a shame since I want to say that this venue was one of the more pleasurable concert experiences I’ve ever had. That is saying a lot since the day of this show was a rainy one, and we all had to bust out ponchos in order to avoid being completely drenched for the duration of the show. It was bad enough that Boy George even remarked during his set that they weren’t sure the show was actually going to happen until right before the gig started. Most venues would be insanely opportunistic and charge and arm and a leg for ponchos, but thankfully the vendors were selling some for a buck each. Yeah, they were basically glorified trash bags, but they kept me mostly dry. Had I wanted, I actually could have stood under covered roof area in the back, but I was lucky enough to get fourth row seats, so that simply was not an option.
Here’s a bad picture of my vantage point made hazy due to the rain and my phone not working well together.
When entering, the staff of the venue were exceptionally nice, greeting every attendee and wiping their seats dry as we filed in. Had I decided to get up, I know there was food and beverages available, but I didn’t want to do the climbing over people and coming back thing that I absolutely hate others doing. If anything the staff and general vibe of this venue are a 180 degree departure from the vomit and booze soaked venues I’m generally used to, where a “good show” is one where you leave with your hearing intact and have successfully avoided being groped by drunk women, or punched by their Pantera-shirt clad boyfriend. Metal venues can be nice sometimes, but not like this, this is a different experience altogether.
Opening the show was Tom Bailey, the former lead singer of the popular 80’s band Thompson Twins. While this was not a Thompson Twins show per se, most of the songs performed were in fact by that band with the title track from his newest album, Science Fiction, tossed in to help show that he has some new material out there and to help promote it. I have, in fact, purchased and listened to his new album, and plan to review it on here very soon – maybe even this week!
While a few new songs wouldn’t have made me sad, I was beyond happy to hear all of the hits that made the Thompson Twins one of my go-to 80’s bands for all these years. Getting to hear songs like Lies, Lay Your Hands on Me, Doctor Doctor!, and Hold me Now live as something I would have never expected to do considering the break-up of the band and it looking like they will never get back together.Mr. Bailey hasn’t lost anything in his energy or singing ability – had I not known he was in his 60’s one could assume he was much younger. It was a short set, but I am very glad to have seen the show.
Here is the set-list of the show:
- We Are Detective (Thompson Twins song)
- Love on Your Side (Thompson Twins song)
- Science Fiction
- You Take Me Up (Thompson Twins song)
- Lies (Thompson Twins song)
- Lay Your Hands on Me (Thompson Twins song)
- If You Were Here (Thompson Twins song)
- Doctor! Doctor! (Thompson Twins song)
- Hold Me Now (Thompson Twins song)
I was unable to ignore seeing the B-52s as I’ve been a fan of their odd punk/new wave sound for a LOOOONG time. I fell in love with their music in that resurgence they had in the late 80’s / eary 90’s when songs like Love Shack got big with help from MTV back when it was watchable. I had to miss a previous concert up here a few years before for personal reasons, and with the age of the band getting higher and higher I always see these opportunities as possible “last chance” affairs. I believe half of the band members are over 70 years old at this point, but you would never know that based on this concert – all of the zany stage presence and amazing songs sounded exactly like what everyone wanted to hear and nobody has missed a step.
I’m always a sucker for the song Rock Lobster, so hearing that live was truly awesome – I was also happy to hear some deeper cuts get thrown in there – Roam and Love Shack were both welcome to my ears as well. Fred Schneider had some pretty funny banter during the show, but a lot of it was based on the overall political climate going on at the moment – urging everyone to vote and to try to end the GOPs stranglehold on the government. The crowd was receptive to this aside from minimal boos when Fred mentioned Claire McCaskill which is a divisive figure in local politics right now. Other-wise one would imagine a concert for these bands would lean somewhat blue, so my general fear of a Red State backlash was unfounded.
And just like that it was all over, and amazing. Here is the set-list:
- Planet Claire
- Dance This Mess Around
- Private Idaho
- 52 Girls
- Party Out of Bounds (Party Mix.)
- Give Me Back My Man
- Love Shack (with Low Rider snippet.)
- Rock Lobster
Seeing Culture Club was the big surprise for me at this show – I would say that I enjoy their music, but they aren’t really my favorites. To me, the fact that they have reunited was my biggest surprise, even though they do that from time to time, since they seem to be staying together this time, and even have an album lined up to be released soon (maybe I’ll review that as well – we’ll see).
One cannot downplay the might that is Boy George as a front man, he simply holds the audience in the palm of his hand and despite his age and previous issues with drugs and other issues has not lost anything that made him a worldwide megastar all those years ago. I’m no fashion guy, but the entire band was decked out in awesome suits, and it really gave the vibe that I was seeing something truly special. The band mostly played their hits with a handful of pretty solid cover songs mixed in including a quite solid version of David Bowie’s classic Let’s Dance.
The band’s musical spectrum ranges from vaguely ska-based songs, R&B music, and straight up pop rock songs so there was something there for everyone. If anything, I left this show knowing that I was able to see a musical legend back in his prime after a few stumbles and a solid cap to a great night.
As with the other two, here’s the set-list.
If any of these bands come to your area, I would definitely recommend checking them out, and for those that live in the Kansas City area – do yourself a favor and see a show at Starlight – very solid venue and amazing staff.