Belinda Carlisle Performs Rare SoCal Show: Having written extensively about the wonder that is Belinda Carlisle over the past couple of years (and interviewed her three times) — from her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the Go-Go’s to, most recently, her new Mad About Music show on Sirius XM — there’s not much more we can say about her, except that she still deserves way more credit than she gets.
We spoke to her only last week about this show at the Saban in Beverly Hills, and she told us that, “I haven’t done any solo shows here since maybe 2012, maybe longer. It’s been a long time, and most of my touring and dates are done in the UK and Europe. It’s going to be all my classic stuff, it’s going to draw from all of my albums. Of course, people will expect a few Go-Go’s songs, too.”
That was mostly true; the set certainly drew from her hit albums, and played the singles that most of the people in the crowd wanted to hear. Her 1989 masterpiece Runaway Horses, for example, was represented a full seven times on Thursday night (only three short of the full album). That included the title track, which opened the set with vigor, plus majestic renditions of the likes of “La Luna,” “Valentine,” “Summer Rain” and “Leave a Light On.”
Our tiny, teeny-weeny, complaint is that we would love to have heard some songs post 1991’s Live Your Life Be Free album. We certainly don’t view Carlisle as a nostalgia act, and her work beyond that has been exciting, often experimental, and always great. Apparently she’s been performing “Big Scary Animal” from 1993’s Real on other nights of this tour and that would have been awesome. But nothing from A Woman and a Man, or the album of French pop Voila, or the album of yoga chants Wilder Shores. And sure, squeezing all of that in would have been tough, but “Little Black Book” (one of her best) would have been a treat.
But whatever. What we did get was superb. That included four Go-Go’s songs, pop-d up by the keyboards, including (obviously) “We Got the Beat.” It was a treat to hear “Mad About You” from her Belinda debut solo album, pre-pop stardom.
The songs from the album that broke her, Heaven on Earth, got the biggest response from the Beverly Hills crowd — “I Get Weak” and “Circle in the Sand,” plus deeper cuts in “Should I Let You In” and “World Without You.” “Heaven is a Place on Earth” closed out the main part of the set before the encores and, predictably, it brought the house down. Because it remains a perfect pop song. Pop songwriter extraordinaire Rick Nowels, who co-wrote the song, joined Carlisle on stage for that, and stuck around for an acoustic “Vision of You.”
Throughout it all, Carlisle held court like the pop-rock princess that she is. Her career has been one of twists and turns, and this Decades tour allows us to recall many of the highlights. Just remember, there have been many more.
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