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Bangles - London Shepherd's Bush Empire, 20/3/2003

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 14 / 3 / 2003

Bangles - London Shepherd's Bush Empire, 20/3/2003


80's phenomenom and all-girl group the Bangles recently played the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London. Anthony Strutt rekindles a love affair that never went away

The Bangles ! What a band ! My love affair started with them back upon my first hearing of their cover of Katrina and the Waves “Going Down to Liverpool’ on a video clip which lasted a few seconds on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ in February or March ‘85. That was enough. I was hooked. I first saw the band, if I remember correctly, on the 16th April of that year at the London Marquee. The gig cost £3 and it is my personal favourite gig of all time. I was then only 23 and, in front of me, as I stood squeezed up against the Marquee’s PA were four of L.A.’s most beautiful girls ever. I was in love with these babes instantly, especially the curly haired brunette one, Susanna Hoffs. She was and is gorgeous and she rocked and even better still played a rickenbacker. That gig was everything music should be about-sex, love and rock-and before anyone mentions the words ‘Eighties’ then f*** off because the Bangles owed everything they had to the 60’s. In coming from L.A., they name dropped their heroes as Love and the Doors, and, unlike most bands in ‘85, all of them sang lead vocals and played their own instruments. They released two of the greatest records of my life, their first 7”, “Hero Takes a Fall’, which is still in their live set, and ‘All Over the Place’, which is their greatest album (My copy is now signed) and didn’t sell very well at the time. In February of ‘86 they were back in England and I was at the first date of their world tour at the Croydon Underworld (now a bar). This was the tour that made them stars. They were still very much a 60’s loving band, but they had then written their second album ‘Different Light’, which could be subtitled ‘The Greatest Hits’. Almost every track was lifted off this as an A side or a B side, the first single being the Prince-penned massive hit, ‘Manic Monday’. From here onwards they were famous and the hits rolled. They still had a 60’s edge, but, if you listen to the 12” mixes now, they do suffer from 80’s production values. They played their last London show on American independence Day in July ‘86 . They did release one more LP, ‘Everything’, but never played live in Europe to promote it. My last vision of the Bangles in my life was Susanna on her knees on Venice Beach singing, in the video that accompanied it , the anthem that is ‘Eternal Flame’, which I didn’t like at the time. On Thursday 6th September 2001, 5 days before September 11th, they returned to Britain to play Shepherd’s Bush Empire and I was at the stage door to meet them and my love for Miss Hoff’s returned. Did it every go away ? No, frankly. I spoke to Susanna and she told me that their Marquee show was very much a highlight to her. Eighteen months later, the band return to the same venue with a new label, Liberty, which is part of EMI ; a new single, the gorgeous “Something That I Said’ and a new album, ‘The Doll Revolution’. The audience are warmed up by the Lollies, whom I last saw support Tompaulin or a Tompaulin-related project at the Arts Cafe several years ago. At 9 pm we are greeted by a white and pink mod style circle above the the stage with an intro tape of an Indian sitar instrumental before my favourite L. A. babes greet us on stage, Susanna, Michael Steele, Vicki Peterson and her sister Debbi join our company to wild cheers and break into the same opener as 2001’s show, the Bangles rock arrangement of ‘Hazy Shade of Winter’. It was originally recorded by Simon and Garfunkel. Tonight it sounds slowed down, but they’re not as young as they usd to be, so that’s okay. I can deal with that. Vicki then rocks into ‘The Rain Song’. Vicki was always the 70’s influenced rock chick anyhow. Song 3 grabs the audience’s attention as it is one that this mostly all 80’s hangers on crowd all know as it is ‘If She Knew What She Wants’ from ‘Different Light’ . Again it is slowly delivered. Vicki then rocks through a new one before Michael sings her first song of the night, which is Alex Chilton’s ‘September Gurls’. Next up we get four part harmonies on the Bangles own tribute to the Velvet Underground. God, I love this band. It is ‘Waiting for Man’. The harmonies hum into “Manic Monday’ which sends the crowd wild before they return back into “Waiting for my Man’. Two new songs come next. Vicki sings ‘Single by Choice’ from ‘Doll Revolution’ and then there is a new Susanna song, before Debbi leaves her drum kit and puts on an acoustic guitar. After a lot of tuning, our girls deliver an acoustic singalong. They sing ‘Going Down to Liverpool’, which was written by Kimberley Rew of the Soft Boys (On hearing this song, sung by the Bangles on a Dutch TV show. Ian McNabb was so hacked off that he wrote the Icicle Works’ track, ‘Up Here in the North of England’). The band then deliver their new single, “Something that You said’, which only charted at a sad No 38, but it is a gorgeous track. Following this is a number that they did back in 2001 which has a Byrds style feel and is sung by both Vicki and Susanna. ‘She Said Nothing’ follows. ‘Ride the Ride’ meanwhile rocks big time, before ‘In Your Room’, which starts me crying. I knew that would happen. The crowd goes mad before the band launches into “Walk Like A Eygptian’. The crowd then goes even madder. They harmonise then and then are gone. For their first encore, I’m hoping for some ‘All Over the Place’ material and Susanna doesn’t disappoint. They deliver an extended live rock version of ‘Hero Takes a Foil’, which has me dancing like a man gone crazy. Michael then launches into ‘I’m Not Talking’, another early classic, but her vocals are a bit weak and she adds ‘War is Not the Answer’ and then the band bows and is gone. They return. What do you think they finish with ? Yes, the song I never liked, but due to Atomic Kitten’s murder of it, I like the original a lot better. Susanna has me on my knees crying. I am a total mess, crying my heart out, to the greatest love song ever written not to feature the word love in it. The Bangles, the greatest garage band ever. I love you, ladies, forever.

Picture Gallery:-
Bangles - London Shepherd's Bush Empire, 20/3/2003

Bangles - London Shepherd's Bush Empire, 20/3/2003

Visitor Comments:-
89 Posted By: penny, shepherd on 02 Oct 2007
very clear and very good

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