Saturday, October 25, 2008
Who knew there were still serious Bangles fans? Fans who still know the words to album tracks from 1985, wear the t-shirts, bring immaculately preserved mid-80s TV Hits posters to be signed and happily part with $100 to meander through the maze of Crown Casino for the honour of seeing them. Even The Bangles (well the three-quarters of the band performing tonight) seemed surprised and overjoyed at the response in the room to the set tonight, and, as Vicki Petersen points out, ‘We’ve come a long way, and I don’t mean geographically.’
Monique Brumby sets the scene in with her oddball charisma. Veering between Wendy Rule-banshee-bug-eyed-possession (Sweet Chilli) and searing heartfelt intimacy (the ever-brilliant The Change In Me), she is a great choice for support. Her band are stylish and restrained in the way that a rock band at The Palms should be, but inject blood into the mix when they need to, and rarely has a closing song been so ecstatically dedicated to the headline band.
With devotees lining the barrier and the band (the three original members and three guys helping out on bass, keys and percussion) there is an irresistible vibe of fun. Everyone is smiling and glad to be there, then comes the music – the set is identical to the Sydney show, signed setlists of which are available at the merch desk for $25. Kicking off with Hazy Shade of Winter, Manic Monday, If She Knew What She Wants and some songs of their 2005 album Doll Revolution that they admit “isn’t available in your fine country,” the band are clearly having a blast, and it’s very infectious. Susanna Hoffs, gently strumming her ‘Susanna Hoffs Limited Edition’ Rickenbacker can hardly stop smiling, only occasionally pulling her ‘sideways glance’ that always made those Bangles filmclips extra-memorable. A cover of Big Star’s September Gurls is a mid-gig highlight, before the inevitable arm-waving classic Eternal Flame gives the punters what they want – a brief bathe in the fountain of youth. Ride The Ride, In Your Room and the set-closing Hero Takes A Fall all go to show that when you take their hits away, they were always a hot power pop band, each song full of effortless harmonies and Vicki Peterson’s buzzing guitar lines.
Debbi Peterson steps out from behind the drumkit for their first single Going Back To Liverpool and the inevitable encore of Walk Like An Egyptian. The band clearly don’t take themselves too seriously and this blessing gives the set a sense of fun abandon that pushes their music to the stuffy back of the room (once you get back a few meters from the barrier the audience is very much of the folded-arm variety). Vicki, once seeing the TV Hits poster admits ‘hideous’ is the only word to describe their appearance during that period of their success, Debbi is all peace signs and big smiles, Susanna is surely one of the few women approaching 50 who can wear a little black dress and make teenagers drool, even if she rocks out like she’s in a Decorè commercial...a great show.