The Bangles October 16, 2009
By Glen Creason
As the world turns. A pretty sizeable crowd of Generation Xers initially moved ever so slightly at the Cerritos Center on Friday night as the Bangles, once the darlings of a hard to define 80’s musical phenomenon romped through ninety very solid minutes of rocking pop-punk or folk-punk or Paisley Underground. All such descriptions from what they used to be called when they rejected the “me generation” by playing feisty and fresh rock and roll that stands up very well in this brave new world. Strange to see the youngsters getting all nostalgic and waxing philosophical about “back in the day of the twentieth century” but these Bangles play great and have plenty of sizzle left in their mini-skirted stage presence. The nucleus is the original trio of Susanna Hoff on rhythm guitar along with sisters Vicki and Debbi Peterson on lead guitar and drums with all three ladies singing through a pretty big wall of sound. This is just straight up pop music with a strong beat and simple lyrics that talk about romance like it is a prize fight and disillusionment that means a little more this far down the road. They played straight through with no break and built up some momentum that increased the temperatures inside to match the outdoor oven on this night. It was great to see the Performing Arts Center shifting on its axis toward modern rock.
As a sort of signature the Bangles got “Hazy Shade of Winter” and “Manic Monday” out of the way in the first four songs but those really were the warm up tunes for what was to come. Truthfully, “Hazy Shade…” is one of the rare covers that surpasses the original and Manic Monday being written by Prince makes it fascinating just on that origin. The three “boys” in the band on bass, keyboards and utility percussion were very good too but names got lost in that aforementioned wall of sound. In a way, the show was divided in three parts with the signatures in the beginning; some nice pop hooks in the middle and a rip-roaring ride to the finish. That middle part featured the joyful pop of Jules Shear’s “If She Knew What She Wants,” and old Big Star gem “September Gurls” and the energetic “Going Down to Liverpool” that showed the band at its best. “Single by Choice” demonstrated some of the punk sensibility of the sassy ladies who are now coupled up by the way but “Doll Revolution” and “Watching the Sky” kept up the good stuff. A final gallop to the finish increased the pace and length of songs starting with an undulating and sensual “Ride the Ride” spiced by Vicki Peterson’s fine guitar leads that continued in the equally engaging “Hero Takes a Fall” that had the X-ers stirring. Finally, “Walk Like an Egyptian” got the crowd to its feet and moving to the groove as it moved toward “Magic Bus” and into encores saluting the great Skye Sunlight Saxon. Properly stirred the big crowd begged for more, hopefully sending a message about bringing the Bangles back this way some season soon.