The Bangles in Philadelphia, 10/4/2014

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We arrived late. I let Diane off in front of the World Cafe Live and proceeded to hunt for a place to park, my eyes on the clock: 7:27pm, a little more than half an hour before the show’s scheduled start. Rows of parked cars lined both sides of Walnut Street. No spots. It was a typical latecomer’s nightmare, in other words, and the capper for what was a tough week. Up 32nd Street I drove, then east on Chestnut. No spots.

However, a slightly hidden (and small) parking lot on South 31st Street, caddy corner to the WCL’s downstairs alleyway and entrance, has been free to the club’s patrons in the past. Diane reminded me of it before she departed the car, but given the hour I seriously doubted any spots would be left. Still, street parking nearby can sometime be had.

But not this night.

No matter. A few spots remained in the lot. Hallelujah! I pulled in, parked and hurried to the club to find Diane, and soon enough we walked into what was a packed room. Oh general admission, how I hate thee! No seats or tables on the main floor or even in front of the bar this night, just people taller than us milling about, including at the foot of the stage – where, if seats weren’t to be had, we definitely wanted to be. An elbow here and there later (I’m joking) and we snaked our way to about a yard away from our goal.

And then it happened: “Why don’t you move here?” suggested a guy, who was with his wife, to Diane. He gave up his spot at the foot of the stage, in other words, so that she could see. Acts of kindness, especially at concert venues, never cease to surprise me. (Roger, if you ever read this, thank you again!)

At about 8:20pm, the lights dimmed and the Bangles – Susanna Hoffs, the Peterson sisters (Vicki and Debbi) and a (male) bassist whose name I didn’t catch – kicked things off with a rockin’ rendition of “A Hazy Shade of Winter,” their hit cover of the Simon & Garfunkel chestnut.

And thus began an incredible concert that Diane perfectly encapsulated about halfway through. She leaned back to me, pointed to the stage and exclaimed, “This is my kind of girl power!” I can only agree, but – of course – I’m a partisan. As I’ve written about elsewhere, I’ve been a fan of the Bangles since the early ‘80s.

The set was made for hardcore fans, featuring the expected — “Manic Monday,” “If She Knew What She Wants,” “September Gurls,” “In Your Room,” “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Eternal Flame” – alongside such All Over the Place gems as “Hero Takes a Fall,” “Going Down to Liverpool,” “James” and “Live,” along with some songs that predate those, such as their first-ever single, “Getting Out of Hand.” Also on the docket: jewels from the 2011 Sweetheart of the Sun album, such as “Anna Lee,” “Ball & Chain” and the rockin’ Nazz cover “Open My Eyes.”

In short, it was garage-rock heaven: to-die-for vocals and harmonies, catchy melodies and stellar musicianship. These gals rocked the house, and then some. Here’s a sampling:

Of course, just as at the First Aid Kit show, the general-admission aspect of the night turned tiresome after a while. About the only solace: I wasn’t the only one tired, as the crowd was made up almost entirely of middle-aged folks like me (though I did notice a few younger faces).

The only other negative: my freakin’ iPhone 5, which froze up while recording “Going Down to Liverpool.” (iOS 8 has not been playing nice with it.)

Oh, and one more negative: that parking lot? It’s not free anymore. I got a $35 parking ticket. C’est la vie.

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7 thoughts on “The Bangles in Philadelphia, 10/4/2014

  1. Todd Mason

    Feeling under the weather slightly, and Alice even mores, so we didn’t make the effort despite having the tix (that makes a trufan?). Glad it was a good concert even if not the best possible way to enjoy the night…I know Debbi Peterson smiled at me that night 30 years ago since I was damned near the only person on my side of the room actually watching the band (as opposed to watching the live taping the 9:30 Club did of all its headliners, which played out on large tv sets anchored around the walls of the smallish performance space of the first 9:30), and the likelihood of coaxing another as spontaneous was slight.

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