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Pop Music Review

Reunited Go-Go's Display a Sure Sense of Fun

July 10, 1999|NATALIE NICHOLS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It was, like, Go-Go's to the max at the Greek Theatre on Thursday, as the '80s pop quintet--reunited for the third time since their 1984 breakup--giddily tore through hits and favorites, delighting a crowd of hometown fans and reminding listeners that the group's sense of fun was as key to its appeal as its irresistible blend of pop hooks, surf licks, and punk bounce.

Three go-go dancers cavorted during the last part of the 90-minute set. The players quoted the Miracles' "Going to a Go-Go" in the middle of "We Got the Beat." They even romped through an upbeat, Go-Go-ized (and nearly unrecognizable) rendition of the "Titanic" love song "My Heart Will Go On."

In addition to offering picture-perfect takes on such eternally youthful anthems as "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "This Town," the band revisited its scruffy punk roots with "Fun With Ropes" ("a sweet little song Jane [Wiedlin] wrote about bondage," cracked singer Belinda Carlisle).

Yet despite Carlisle's jokes about time having taken its toll on their glamour-puss image, she and guitarist Wiedlin, guitarist-keyboardist Charlotte Caffey, bassist Kathy Valentine and drummer Gina Schock looked remarkably unchanged.

More important, they sounded better than ever, perhaps thanks to years spent honing their chops in separate careers.

It might have been interesting to hear new songs that adapted the music's breezy, romantic flair to the players' inevitably more grown-up perspective, but even as a nostalgia act the Go-Go's were a real kick.

* The Go-Go's, with Berlin and the Lunachicks, play Sunday at the Open Air Theatre, San Diego State University, 8 p.m. $25 and $35. (619) 594-6947. Also next Saturday with Sparks at the Greek Theatre, 2700 Vermont Canyon Road, 7:30 p.m. $20-$50. (323) 480-3232.

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