Holy Flashback Friday Batman! The Retro Futura Tour made a totally awesome stop in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre on July 29, 2017. We had a break in the weather from the scorching hot and humid heat that recently had this area in a choke hold. The weather on this night was a bit cooler and down in the 80s, so the conditions were ideal for an outdoor concert of totally tubular hits from the 80s. Ok, I promise I will stop with the valley talk and get on with our review.
First up was Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow who was taking Paul Young’s spot on a handful of dates due to prior show commitments that he already had booked when this tour was presented to him. It’s tough having the opening slot on a bill with five other acts as people are usually still arriving when you hit the stage. Also, not everyone has loosened up at that point and is fully into the show and having a good time. Annabella’s set was short, but she made the most of it and gave it her all. She managed to get a good part of the crowd a bit loosened up and on their feet. Her next to last song was “Do You Wanna Hold Me” which was one of the band’s MTV staples in the 80s. This caused many of the others to get up on their feet and sing. You could see the look on some faces as if to say, ‘oh my god, I remember this one!’ She closed with “I Want Candy” and that’s one of the biggest Essential 80s 101 hits! Once those tribal like drums kicked in, the crowd rose and really began to party! A great opening set by an artist that we waited way too long to finally see live and cannot wait to see again, hopefully very soon!
Katrina, ex of Katrina and the Waves, was up next and she received a slightly better crowd response. I picked up a little bit of trivia during her performance. During her set, she told us that the Bangles covered a song that she wrote entitled “Going Back to Liverpool.” I remember the song and video from MTV, but I had no idea that she wrote it. Her set ended with her massive hit “Walking on Sunshine” which got a huge reaction from the crowd and had them up out of their seats singing and dancing!
Modern English hit the stage next all dressed in white looking as if they had raided the Backstreet Boys wardrobe from a 90s video shoot. Lead singer Robbie Grey invited everyone from the lawn seats to move down front closer and a small rush of people took him up on it. The band sounded great and was having a ton of fun performing. My only complaint is a selfish one in that their set was too short, but I understand how these kinds of shows with multiple acts work. They played their staples including “Ink and Paper” and “Hands Across the Sea” and even threw in a newer track. For some, it may be a taboo for a band to play new music on a show like this, but I think it’s a great opportunity for the band and I welcome it. The guys played “Moonbeam” from their new studio album Take Me to the Trees, which surprised us by getting such a good response from the crowd. It even went over really well with quite a few who had never heard the song before, so great move and song choice guys. The band closed with its entry into the One Hit Wonders category. Of course I am talking about “I Melt With You” which is another Essentials 80s 101 tunes. It turned into a huge karaoke session with nearly everyone singing alone.
The English Beat was up next and they brought the flavor of ska to the event. Their set was high energy and really had almost all of the crowd engaged and having fun. It’s hard to resist (not that we were trying) with such tracks as “Mirror in the Bathroom” and “Save it for Later” as well as the General Public hit “Tenderness.” The band sounded amazing and the party atmosphere that they created proved that they still know how to electrify a crowd. I cannot do a review of a show of theirs without tipping my hat to King Schascha who has an insane amount of energy. The guy bounced around the stage non-stop for the band’s entire performance and even donned a Spiderman outfit for one song.
Men Without Hats was up next and they surprisingly kicked off their set with their biggest hit “Safety Dance.” If The English Beat fired the crowd up, then Men Without Hats poured a bit of gasoline on that fire. I will admit that I was a bit surprised with how much the crowd was into their set. They played their other minor hit “Pop Goes the World” which was met with great crowd approval. Lead singer Ivan Doroschuk told fans that he grew up listening to a lot of progressive rock like YES and Pink Floyd. He said that he was going to do one of his favorite progressive songs next and it ended up being a killer cover of ABBA’s “S.O.S.” They closed their set by playing “Safety Dance” a second time and the look on the faces of some people was priceless! I think the second time got just as big, if not bigger, response from the crowd. I do apologize to the band and their fans who are looking at this article. I wish I could have taken more pix, but I got caught up in the stampede of people from the grass and was knocked around shortly into the first song. I was literally shoved out of the way by someone who may have had one or twelve too many drinks. At that point, I decided to retreat from that spot and avoid either me or my camera getting injured.
Howard Jones was ready to close out this great evening of amazing live music and oh my goodness did he bring his A game. We saw Hojo last year in Raleigh, North Carolina when he was on tour with Barenaked Ladies. Since then, he has added two new musicians in Robin Boult on guitar and Emily Dolan Davies on electronic percussion. The show last year in Raleigh was really great, but the addition of both of these extremely talented people has really added a new layer to Hojo’s already amazing live show. There was a ton of energy bouncing back and forth between Hojo and the audience and the singalongs even caught Howard off guard a few times. He also incorporated tons of great lighting and graphics on a huge project screen on the back of the stage. His staples were all there including “No One is to Blame,” “Things Can Only Get Better” and “What is Love.” I have to say that this was one of the best shows that I’ve ever seen from Howard and I really hated to see it come to a close.
I think we were riding a euphoric high from all those great songs for the next day or so after the show. It wasn’t a perfect show and I would tweak a few things for (hopefully) next year’s edition of this traveling retro show. Still, it’s really hard to complain too much after having such an amazing time at this show. Although there was never any mention of Paul Young playing at the Charlotte, North Carolina show, there were quite a few people disappointed that he was not there. I guess they just weren’t paying close enough attention to all of the ads. If they had been following I’m Music Magazine, they would have certainly known about it! Overall, the show was fun, the songs brought back so many great memories, the bands sounded amazing and there was very little down time between bands. The bands can’t get all of the thanks because there is a small army behind the scenes helping make a show like this possible. A huge thank you to the crew and everyone else involved behind the scenes for all of their hard work. Also, big thanks to the wonderful staff at the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre and the amazing security guards. This is a great place to see a show and we love going there!
Check out these pix from Howard Jones’ performance at the Retro Futura Tour stop in Charlotte, North Carolina on July 29, 2017. Click on each image for a larger view!
Check out these pix from The English Beat’s performance at the Retro Futura Tour stop in Charlotte, North Carolina on July 29, 2017. Click on each image for a larger view!
Check out these pix from Men Without Hats’ performance at the Retro Futura Tour stop in Charlotte, North Carolina on July 29, 2017. Click on each image for a larger view!
Check out these pix from Modern English’s performance at the Retro Futura Tour stop in Charlotte, North Carolina on July 29, 2017. Click on each image for a larger view!
Check out these pix from Katrina of the Waves’ performance at the Retro Futura Tour stop in Charlotte, North Carolina on July 29, 2017. Click on each image for a larger view!
Check out these pix from Annabella of Bow Wow Wow’s performance at the Retro Futura Tour stop in Charlotte, North Carolina on July 29, 2017. Click on each image for a larger view!