"Young is clearly this evening's toilet break."
We hustle inside as the warning bell sounds and promptly take our seats as the house lights dim.
Cutting Crew frontman Nick Van Eede informs the band's been here for promo and to record a video before, but this is the first time they've actually performed on a Melbourne stage — how '80s can you get? They perform a new song, which includes lyrics about "playing the field". I've Been In Love Before is dedicated to those among us who are "still with their partners from the '80s". A killer guitar solo (from back when facial expressions were just as important as fingering) intros (I Just) Died In Your Arms and everyone's on their feet: "I could've walked awaaaay!" We're so glad they didn't. Who knew we'd be treated to a mash-up tonight? A reggae version of REM's The One I Love with The Rolling Stones (Play With Fire).
The beauty of sharing a backing band is that one act can roll straight into the next and now it's Paul Young's turn. He looks great but his voice is shot and we wish it wasn't since he opens with the glorious Love Of The Common People. During Wherever I Lay My Hat Young specifies that his "home" is obviously Melbourne tonight. Never liked 'Sexy Madonna' (which we learn is actually Senza Una Donna) anyway. Young channels Joe Cocker huskiness throughout and "Every time you go away/You Take a piece of me(at) with you," closes. His audience involvement is endearing and he sits on the edge of the stage to reach out to fans, but Young is clearly this evening's toilet break.
We didn't expect for Nik Kershaw AND Go West (both members!) to come out on stage together after the 15-minute intermission (during which there's a Brian Mannix sighting!). A Tears For Fears cover (Everybody Wants To Rule The World) makes a head-scratching opener. Kershaw vacates, enter Call Me (which incidentally was released pre-mobile phones when you actually had to write your digits down on a piece of paper to present to a suitor). Singer Peter Cox is the king of the '80s side-step (as well as wishful thinking) and sports a form-fitting long-sleeved white shirt and (probably) boot-cut jeans. Then pocket Tim Farriss (Kershaw) returns with Wide Boy — "Oh me, oh my!" lyrics are so quaint! When Kershaw speaks we're surprised by his geezer accent. Welcoming Go West back to the stage, he says, "I know what you're thinking ladies, you still would, wouldn't you?" Why they then go ahead and sing a Birdy song is anyone's guess. "It's not even their song?" baulks a neighbour in the crowd. Would I Lie To You? (Eurythmics) and say that was a decent cover? Cannot. We're transported to Shoppingtown Hotel. A version of Sam Sparrow's Black & Gold glistens and we wonder what became of Sparrow? It's actually a shame Go West are probably best remembered for King Of Wishful Thinking (from the Pretty Woman OST) since there are much stronger songs in their catalogue.
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Everyone needs to experience back-to-back performances of We Close Our Eyes (Go West) and Wouldn't It Be Good during their lifetime. We Close Our Eyes live is an updated extended mix and nothing could prepare us for the arrangement's funk injection: "...And we can talk to strangers..." Kershaw's emo anthem ("I'm sick of fighting even though I know I should") is touchingly beautiful. Guitarist Richard Drummie is probably a nice guy, but we all know more people Go South on Cox. Kershaw's back for I Won't Let The Sun Go Down On Me and this is as pop as he gets. Meandering, unconventional song structures and obtuse lyrics (The Riddle) are his forte and showcase Kershaw as indie (before it was a thing). He demonstrates some impressive guitar work also. When Cox dramatically presses back of wrist to forehead, mid-song, Drummie and Kershaw (hilariously) mimic him just out of eyeshot. Sex On Fire by Kings Of Leon is probably when the lads scope the audience for prospects, but we're not sure we're supposed to be laughing. As punters exchange tragic fan memories, chatting excitedly in the aisles and foyer, security have their work cut out for them clearing the venue.
And in answer to Kershaw's aforementioned question? Without hesitation.