Talent in Action
FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD BELOUIS SOME
Greek Theatre, Los Angeles
HOW WOULD this Frankie Goes To Hollywood show differ from the ones the group performed the last time they came to Hollywood? The answer the British bad boys gave to an enthusiastic house here June 14 was that the show wouldn’t be very different at all. It would simply be bigger and splashier and performed for 25,000 people over three nights, instead of 3,600.
The ZTT/Island act has the distinct, if unwelcome, honor of being the only band whose backlash preceded its buildup. It’s all but impossible to find an American critic with anything good to say about the dance-rock fivesome —
Fact is, the show was expertly staged, with an extravagant array of video screens, motorized lighting rigs and pyrotechnics. Hokey, yes; effective, yes. Lead singer Holly Johnson spent less time this go-‘round attempting to antagonize the fans, and more time attempting to please them.
The 90-minute set got off to a strong start with a cover of Edwin Starr’s “War,” but stalled with the next three tunes: two lesser-known efforts from their album and one unheralded new number. By the time the band got to club favorites like “Pleasure Dome,” “Two Tribes” and “Relax,” however, momentum held sway. The group’s Chuck Berry-esque reading of “Bang A Gong” would surely have pleased Marc Bolan better than the languid Power Station version.
Predisposition to Frankie could easily be seen in reactions to the band’s expected encore of “Born To Run.” Johnson appeared in a flowing blond wig, bassist Mark O’Toole and vocalist Paul Rutherford wore black heavy metal shags, guitarist Brian Nash donned Sammy Hagar curls, and drummer Peter Gill hid under an oversized cowboy hat. The pro-Frankie faction found it light-hearted fun; the anti-Frankies thought it heresy. Either way, it was a pretty good cover.
Opening act Belouis Some is the best Bowie clone to come out of London in years —