Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

5Jul/1026

Setlist: Wang Chung in Cleveland, 7/3/10

I'm a firm believer in certain things that are unspoken non-negotiable topics of discussion.  For example, if we are driving and see a record store, you'd better believe that we're stopping.  If the B-52s are playing in Chattanooga while we're at Bonnaroo, you'll drive me there and drop me off before you go back to the 'Roo (sorry about that, Brian).

And most importantly, if the opportunity presents itself, we will Wang Chung together, especially if Wang Chung themselves happen to be hosting the party during a holiday weekend in Cleveland, OH.  (For further reference, this rule ties in to an additional rule that if potentially ironic bands from the '80s are playing at The Winchester, a mere block from my house, chances are nearly 100 percent that we will be in attendance.)

The band claims to have been Abducted by The '80s, which is the clever title of their new double EP, a release that features re-records of four old Wang Chung songs paired with four new tracks - a nice mix of where they've been and where they are now.

Of the new tracks, "Rent Free" is my favorite of the bunch, featuring a lyrical hook ("you've been living rent free in my head") that will quickly embed itself in your head moments after you hear it - rent-free, of course.  While my initial reaction the the EP title was "oh GOD," it made me take notice and want to hear more.  And the good news is that new music from Wang Chung in 2010 isn't a bad thing (although you might be scared at the thought).  Much like the B-52s did with their Funplex release, Wang Chung have managed to update their sound a tad with the new material while maintaining their classic sound (and for the record, the new stuff sounds really great). So for those of you that were hoping new stuff from Wang Chung might sound like Korn?  Keep moving.  (For the rest of you that want to hear more, you can stream the entire new EP on the band's website.)

Even though I'd heard the new stuff (and enjoyed it), I was honestly a bit skeptical about seeing Wang Chung live.  After all, it's been over 30 years after their beginnings as the Intellektuals, one of the short-lived projects that eventually morphed into Wang Chung as we know it today (the group initially were known as Huang Chung).  Wang Chung fall into the large list of '80s groups that came along at a point when I was too young to go see them play shows.  Did they have any live chops back in the day?  Would they still be any good?  The answer to that second question is a definite yes!  We walked into The Winchester, and I immediately had to look into the music hall to see if the music I heard playing was coming from  a band on stage, or was it merely a CD that I was hearing?  That's how tight Wang Chung's performance was on-stage with a lineup featuring original members Jack Hues (vocalist and guitars) and Nick Feldman (bass), with a drummer (Tom) and keyboard player (Paul) backing them up.

The Winchester show was actually the band's second Cleveland-area performance in a week (following a Wednesday night performance at Musica in Akron), and the shows were long overdue - the band  hadn't been in Cleveland for nearly 25 years.   And while you might have washed up visions of Hugh Grant in Music & Lyrics, the Wang Chung show was surprisingly un-ironic - Hues really sounded great vocally (wisely reworking "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" to side step the high notes midway through the song) and musically, the band sounded better than you could possibly expect, which is to say that they actually sounded like Wang Chung - and isn't that the point? (And the setlist featured a nice mix of both hits, album tracks and soundtrack hits - "Fire In The Twilight" from The Breakfast Club was a really nice surprise.)

While Hues and Feldman could have very easily half-assed this tour by performing with keyboard and drum tracks (as similar artists from the era have done), the fact that they actually instead have a full band says a lot that they're actually very serious about Wang Chung v.2010.  An additional indicator:  hearing that they spent three hours soundchecking the band in the afternoon prior to their performance, which might seem like overkill - but those that were in attendance will attest that the sound was perfectly mixed for the room, a 75 minute evening of '80s bliss.

Did I mention that they ended the night with an encore of "I Saw Her Standing There" by The Beatles?  It's safe to say that nearly everyone making music today has been influenced by The Beatles and yes, that list includes Wang Chung, and their version was very credible .

There are four more shows left on the current Wang Chung tour schedule, including their next show in New York on Wednesday night and if you're feeling nostalgic, I can promise that you'll enjoy the show and if you're a hardcore fan, the chance to hang out with Wang Chung (the band spent over an hour hanging out with fans after last night's show).  You'll find t-shirts and CD copies of the new EP at the merch table and according to Hues, we can expect another EP of new material in September with a third EP of even more new stuff around Christmas.  All of these releases will lead up to a planned album release in 2011 that will collect all of the material from the EPs into a proper album.  And after that, one can assume that there will be more touring.  Can't wait!

Here's the setlist from The Winchester:

Wait
Fire In The Twilight
Let's Get Along
Driving You
Don't Let Go
To Live And Die In LA
Stargazing
Rent Free
Let's Go
Dance Hall Days
Everybody Have Fun Tonight

encore:

I Saw Her Standing There (The Beatles)

Live photo via the  Wang Chung website

  • Rangers22

    Great Review here. I'm a hardcore Wang Chung fan and I saw them the night before Cleveland in Kokomo In. I couldn't agree more on how tight the band sounds and how much energy and enthusiasm both Nick and Jack bring to the stage. Jacks voice still sounds agreat and distinctive as ever. I especially enjoyed hanging out with Nick and Jack after the show. Very Gracious. Hope they come back to Indiana next time -Rob

  • Driving Nowhere lol

    You play “Driving you” but it wasn't released, why? lol

  • thefrontloader

    75 minute evening of 80's bliss… I can totally get on board with that!

    I haven't Wang Chung-ed for a while so it was great to read this. Totally dig how the bassist is still using one of those Steinberger basses… very cool!

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    Wow..Amazing Videos…Wang Chung rocks asusual…I call myself as a big fan of this band..and “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” was my favorite from the Mosaic album. :)

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