Originating from the time when acid-washed jeans, “Just Say No,” oversized shoulder pads, and drum machines ruled the land, The Fixx and Wang Chung proved that some ’80s products remain relevant – and attractive. Both bands, pop staples of clubs and radio of that era, performed Thursday at Canalside.
Wang Chung hit the stage with vocalist Jack Hues noting immediately that it was a “small but perfectly formed crowd.” They began their set with three from their 2012 recording, “Tazer Up!,” a topical array of tunes.
Their second selection, “Let’s Get Along,” was enlivened by a departure from the song’s lyrics to channel the power of their signature “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” with chorus calling for everyone to “Wang Chung tonight.” The guitar work and vocals of original bandmate Nick Feldman were rock solid. Joining the two onstage were Josh Thompson on drums, and Tony Banks on vintage-sounding synthesizer.
“Space Junk,” from the same release, was a bit more New Age than New Wave, with Hues singing about a dystopic “tenth dimension,” and “sub-atomic bomb.” It was “back to the ’80s,” with Wang Chung’s first song released in America, “Don’t Let Go.” There was a great shout of familiarity when “To Live and Die in L.A.,” was announced, released in “ ’86, or ’85, I don’t recall,” Hues said.
Nearing the end of their set, Wang Chung was back to New Wave dance business with “Let’s Go,” and an excellent, more hard-driving rendition of their hit “Dance Hall Days.” Hues teasingly asked the crowd if, by the “process of elimination,” they knew what the last song would be. The answer was a clear, resounding “Everybody Have Fun.”
The Fixx then pounced onstage, exuding breathtaking showmanship with lead singer Cy Curnin unloosing his mesmerizing voice made for rock opera.
Each masterful delivery by Curnin was matched by his bandmates: guitarist Jamie West-Oram, keyboardist Rupert Greenall, drummer Adam Woods and bassist Dan K. Brown.
They performed songs from throughout their career, the biggest hits met with shouts of recognition, and dance moves on the great lawn. Curnin’s Brit wit was as dry as the rain-free Buffalo night. A set high point was “Happy Landings,” all about time and space, and Curnin’s “mum’s favorite.” The sing-along “One Thing Leads to Another” had the singer pointing the mic at the throng, the response to his own lyrics. “Saved by Zero,” and “Red Skies,” unarguably their finest, were among those that rounded out the artful set.
Buffalo band The Traditional received a text at 11 a.m. that morning inquiring if they could be the third band on the lineup due to illness in the originally planned band, Indians. What would four resourceful Buffalo boys say to that but “Yes!”
Singer and guitarist Mike Bienias, bassist Anthony Musior, guitarist Ryan Bennett and drummer Jonathan Coric happened to be making a video, in preparation for their second recording and a short tour. So they, and their instruments, were ready to roll. The rockers wailed through their set of originals, including “Marilyn,” a classic breakup song about a girl who was, according to the band, in attendance.