June 10, 2011 – When you think about it, the Go-Gos have accomplished quite a feat. Through hit records and hard times alike, the same five girls have stuck together and are still getting a kick out of playing on stage with one another. On a Friday night at the Wolf Trap in Virginia, Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey, Kathy Valentine, and Gina Schock stepped into a time warp of sorts for a brief throwback to their playful brand of punk pop.
In their peak, the Go-Gos were hard to miss on the radio. They stood out as one of the very few all-female rock bands, but it was their bouncy rhythms and choruses coupled with Carlisle’s innocent voice that set them apart. The question becomes: do they still have it?
When the sound of “Vacation” flooded the amphitheater, the answer became a resounding “YES”. Not only do they still have the sound, but they’re not doing bad in the looks department either.
The proud frontwoman for the band, Belinda Carlisle sprinkled dance moves in with her singing for most of the show. From Go-Gos deep cuts to a slice of her own solo material (“Mad About You”), her upbeat voice wraps itself around each note with ease. Her bandmates had a less noticeable presence, although guitarist Jane Wiedlin is hard to miss with her spiked white hair and quirky aura.
Although the choice of songs was nothing short of a longtime fan’s dream come true, borrowing mostly from the group’s early days, the show might have flowed better if the songs from 1981’s Beauty and the Beat were played in album order. You see, the tour celebrates not only the band’s anniversary, but also the anniversary of this double platinum album. They did play most of the songs as promised, but the random order left some confusion in the crowd.
Musically, they were clearly having an "on" night, despite their humble beginnings. "We started this band not even knowing how to play our instruments," Wiedlin remarked at the end of the show. "We just wanted to have fun!" They've certainly accomplished having fun, while not sounding too bad in the process either.
The Go-Gos are not one of the biggest music acts to come out of their era. There are countless bands who outpaced them in record sales and mass appeal. But they practically created their own genre of female-led pop rock, and it's paying dividends for them now as they find that their adoring fans have not abandoned them. They're still showing up, wearing t-shirts and dancing in the aisles. For these ladies, it's a celebration not just 30 years together as a band, but of 30 years with their fans.