For a band whose videos and overall image signaled another in the long line of shallow products from England's techno-pop assembly line, Go West wasn't too bad in its L. A. debut at the Palace this week. Instead of synthesizer-drenched trendiness, the duo of Richard Drummie and Peter Cox and their supporting musicians delivered some strong slices of contempo Anglo soul-pop, somewhere in the Paul Young/Wham!/ABC ballpark.
Front man Cox's raspy, emotional singing and some loose, flavorful arrangements carried Wednesday's set for a while, offsetting a couple of straight pop numbers that sounded as if they were assembled from a pop-hit kit.
But Go West seems to want to be more than it is--or maybe it just lacks a clear idea of its strengths. Cox delivered everything with herky-jerky dance movements that were mechanical and aimlessly inappropriate, and at times the group tended to oversell its songs with a glitzy, high-pressure approach that was as close to Vegas as pop music gets.
Hits like "We Close our Eyes" show that Go West can crank out commercial pop with a bit more substance than its rivals, and--unlike, say, Wham!--its excesses on stage seemed to stem more from uncertainty than cold calculation. There is a shortage of charisma and electricity to Cox and company, but they'll have to find other ways to compensate. Better yet, guys, forget about it and just wail.