Return To Bangleonia - Live In Concert (DVD)

The Bangles

Shout/SMV, 2007

http://www.thebangles.com

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/15/2007

After viewing this somewhat redundant live DVD of the Bangles at the House of Blues, I was left with the feeling of “So what?” 

I appreciate the fact that the band members still play their own instruments and this “reunion show” tries to demonstrate that they haven’t lost a step. It essentially picks up where they left off in 1990.  Seems the girls still feel they have something to prove, but even the prestige factor of performing at the House of Blues can’t conceal a flat stage performance like this.

Susanna Hoffs brandishes a guitar for much of this show, which for her is a good thing since it toughens up her image and proves that she too has the musical chops. The more aggressive numbers “Angels Don’t Fall In Love” and “Hero Takes A Fall” help her to shine the most. With her trademark mass of hair, bassist Michael Steele all but blends into the paisley scenery. Recently, Steele has been nowhere to be found as a Bangle, so it appears that the original foursome have once again hit a snag. Still, I suspect only the hardcore will miss her presence from here on out. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

As for sisters Vicki and Debbie Peterson, as always they form the foundation of the band.  On the drums, Debbie supplies the beat, though she doesn’t quite have the same impact of Gina Schock from the Go-Go’s (speaking of that rival 80s girl group, it was Vicki Peterson who filled in for a pregnant Charlotte Caffey during the Go-Go’s first reunion tour in 1994). Vicki’s a solid musician when it comes to doing it all: singing, songwriting and playing guitar. Of course, it is Susanna who has the most distinctive singing voice of all the members.

The fact that this concert was filmed way back in 2000 certainly doesn’t help Return To Bangleonia to be the must-own that it claims to be. It would have been nice to have more tracks from Everything and their big breakthrough smash Different Light. While songs like “Going Down To Liverpool” and “In Your Room” have never sounded better, I have a feeling everybody is sick of “Eternal Flame” by now.  Their other hit single, “Walk Like An Egyptian,” is also something of a disappointment when put in front of a live audience.  At their age, they undoubtedly felt a little ridiculous playing that novelty tune again -- but it’s what the audience expects and demands, so the band had to give in.

The new songs simply don’t register here. Bad decisions all around for selecting “The Rain Song” and “Stealing Rosemary,” which both fail miserably from songwriting to execution. They do their best with their remakes of “Hazy Shade Of Winter” and “Pushin’ Too Hard,” though rock purists would probably like to have the band's collective heads on a platter for having the sheer audacity to go there. A better choice would have been to include the Elvis Costello-penned track “Tear Off Your Own Head,” so as to show up such critics and add some much needed grit and punk attitude to the plastic proceedings. 

While all of this adds up to a pleasant trip down memory lane, it didn’t exactly leave me wanting more. The show itself is over in 90 minutes, but it feels much longer.  Oh well, this is just more evidence that what happened in the 80s should probably stay in the 80s.

Rating: C-

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© 2007 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Shout/SMV, and is used for informational purposes only.