I was recently blessed with the good fortune of attending the Retro Futura Tour when it made a stop in Indianapolis. For those not in the know, the Retro Futura Tour is a non-stop ’80s party with acts such as Howard Jones, Modern English, The English Beat, Men Without Hats, Paul Young, Annabella from Bow Wow Wow and Katrina from Katrina & The Waves. Although some of you may be wondering if any of these New Wave dinosaurs have still got it, I’m here to say these performers have never looked or sounded better! (And trust me, I upgraded my lawn seats to fifth row the day of the concert in one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, as it was easily one of the most energetic concerts I’ve ever been to bar none.)
The show opened with Katrina, one of the original badass babes of rock ‘n’ roll, who really made the most out of her short set time, belting out familiar favorites like “Walking on Sunshine”, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Girl” and “Going Down to Liverpool”. I wish she could’ve played longer, but I understood that there are six acts to get through in about three hours of time. She looks amazing, and I was in love with her girly pink guitar! A word of advice: she usually hangs out by the merchandise tables to autograph copies of her CDs and books after her performances, and if you’re really lucky like me, you can even snap a selfie with her! She was super nice and ultra-cool in person.
Next up is either Paul Young or Annabella from Bow Wow Wow if you happen to be in one of the cities that Paul couldn’t make it to. My particular concert featured Paul, and he’s as adorable as ever. He has such a wonderful stage presence that, again, I wished he were given more set time. He croons “Every Time You Go Away” and seems to have an absolute blast with it, asking the audience to sway back and forth and croon along with him. Which of course I obliged. That will always be a guilty pleasure of mine because it reminds me of a poignant moment from one of my favorite ’80s movies of all time: Planes, Trains & Automobiles.
Next up was Modern English, whom I’ve been in love with since middle school. Of course they played their ’80s rom-com anthem “Melt With You”, although they make you wait until the end of their set list to do so. This built up the anticipation to a heady crescendo, and they did a really nice job of blending their well-known ’80s hits such as “Hands Across the Sea” with some of their more contemporary songs, including my new personal favorite “Moonbeam”. I was ecstatic when they asked us to rush the stage for “Melt With You” – it was a magical moment that I’ll never forget. I was equally ecstatic that the merchandise table had copies of their latest album (“Take Me to the Trees”) on colored vinyl that was also autographed by the band at a fairly reasonable price for tour merch. I purchased one and I think I made the right decision, as the tour T-shirts left a little something to be desired.
At this point, the concert was halfway over, but I wasn’t ready for it to end. The English Beat brought their quirky energy and unique ska style, playing fan favorites such as “Mirror in the Bathroom”, “Tenderness” and “Save It for Later” with a little help from Spider-Man since the latter is featured in the latest installment of the Marvel Universe. I loved their enthusiasm, and they quite naturally segued into Men Without Hats, who seemed to match their giddy levels of enthusiasm toe-to-toe with powerhouse pop hits such as “The Safety Dance” and “Pop Goes the World”. To my pleasant surprise, they also brilliantly covered Abba’s “SOS” (I love Abba!). I didn’t come into the concert expecting to be blown away by Men Without Hats, but the minute lead singer Ivan Doroschuk came out on the stage in a sparkly black shirt with his signature dance moves, I was mesmerized. They made me smile from start to finish, and I didn’t mind that they both opened and closed with “The Safety Dance”, as I found myself dancing and singing to it both times (and I wasn’t even drinking).
Finally, the one and only Howard Jones (The Godfather of Synth Pop himself) took the stage for the grand finale. He’s still a musical genius rocking out a solid hour’s worth of material, including “Like to Get to Know You Well”, “Everlasting Love”, “What Is Love” and “No One Is to Blame” in such a way that they all sound like they could be contemporary chart toppers and not nearly three decades old. And because it’s well after dark before Howard takes the stage, his act also makes fantastic use of lights and background images for an immersive experience.
The Retro Futura Tour makes the ’80s come alive again, and I hope it comes back next year with even more of my favorite New Wave artists. There are still several tour dates throughout the month of August for those wishing to catch this unforgettable show. Please help support Hotchka by checking out the Ticketmaster link below.