Josie Cotton and the Romantics are Highlights of Lost 80s: As we have mentioned before, these ’80s shows are always a mixed bag. We’ve reviewed the 80s Weekends that usually take place at the Microsoft Theater when we’re not in the midst of a pandemic. The outdoor surroundings of the Greek Theatre are far preferable, especially as the organizers are wisely requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for admission (it should be both, incidentally).
So everyone gets in safe and sound — we didn’t notice any dissenters at the gates, just a few anti-vaxx naysayers online who threatened to stay home. GOOD — the Greek was sold out anyway. Masked and blessed with smarts, the crowd was free to dance the night away.
Unlike the Microsoft Theater, the Greek doesn’t have the rotating stage, so the turnaround between bands isn’t as instant. But still, it’s pretty damn fast — five-ten minutes max, which is impressive. There are bands on the bill that we’d forgotten about or barely even knew, performing hits that we definitely know — openers Burning Sensations kick things off with a superb “Belly of the Whale” and Brit band Naked Eyes offer sweet renditions of “Promises Promises” and “Always Something There to Remind Me.”
Dance-pop acts the Flirts and Stacey Q offer the crowd the chance to dance like mad to “Danger” and “Two of Hearts” respectively, and new romantic, synthy joy is provided by Trans-X (“Living on Video”), Animotion (“Obsession”) and headliners A Flock of Seagulls (“I Ran”). It’s like one of those ’80s compilation albums, brought to life.
It’s super-fun to hear reggae hit “Pass the Dutchie” from Musical Youth (who sound great but are stretching the definition of “youth”). Missing Persons’ “Walking in LA” is always welcome anywhere. And Jersey band Dramarama’s “Anything, Anything” is one of the more rocking numbers of the night.
The highlights, however, are Josie Cotton, the Romantics and Oingo Boingo (Former Members, to be precise). Cotton has the great Melanie Vammen (Pandoras, Muffs, Coolies, Leaving Trains) in her band and their three song set, though standard, felt way too short. Cotton is an L.A. treasure, and “School is In,” “He Could be the One” and of course “Johnny, Are You Queer” sound glorious in the sun.
This version of Oingo Boingo might be saddled with the clunky “Former Members” tag due to the lack of main man Danny Elfman, but singer Brendan McKian does a superb job of bringing “Weird Science” and “Dead Man’s Party” to life. We didn’t expect a lot going in, but the Boingo is still bouncing.
Finally, just before A Flock of Seagulls conclude matters, Detroit new wave heroes the Romantics, blast through two songs including “What I Like About You.” Again, it seems way too short for a proper, brilliant rock & roll band but is standard for the night. Can’t complain though — they sound fantastic.
And then it’s over for a few months until the next one of these events, whether it’s at the Microsoft Theater or here at the Greek. Don’t raise your nose and sniff — there’s nothing not to love.