It was apparent that something special was in the making when I entered the Grand Sierra Resort parking lot. The number of cars filling the northwest lot is always a good barometer of a full theater. As soon as The Go Go’s walked onto the stage, the whole crowd stood up, and most everyone stayed up through the night.
After four attempts (the first three tours were postponed) the girls, who rocketed up the charts in 1982, setting yet-to-be-beaten records, finally shook the walls of Reno’s Grand Theatre. And they shook hard!
Even though the Go Go’s were a phenomenal success 40 years ago, I was surprised at the level of love and respect they received from the start of the show.
It was a shame that drummer Gina Schock couldn’t be there due to recovering from a minor surgery, but I saw that she will be back in the saddle this Wednesday in Los Angeles. Instead, they had Blondie drummer Clem Burke filling in for Gina, and he did a great job.
These women were at the top of their game for this show. Carlisle looked and sounded great. She still had all the moves I remember seeing back in the ‘80s – what I would describe as a hula style move with arm waves, one arm across her body and the other up in the air, spinning.
It all brought back wonderful old memories of days gone by. Some good, some not so good. Initially I could only remember a couple of their songs, but I ended up recognizing almost the entire set.
Kathy Valentine’s bass was thunderous, shaking me from the inside out. She looked very rock and roll in Chuck Taylors, and what looked like black leather pants and jacket. The only thing I found bothersome was the sound was a bit bottom heavy and boomy. It could have been my ear plugs though. I pulled them out at one point to hear the difference and it was much brighter that way.
I heard no complaints from anybody about it, so it must have just been me.
The overall sound was fantastic. The harmonies were rock solid, and the guitars sounded clean and powerful. I didn’t hear a bad note out of Carlisle all night. She did most of the talking between songs, but I do recall Valentine asking the audience, “What do Reno residents call themselves? Reno-ites? Renans? Renoers?”
People were calling out things she couldn’t understand, then she caught a good one. “Renowns! I like that!”
As of this writing they still have three dates in California, and then in June they are off to Great Britain for a tour with Billy Idol.
Watching the band interact with each other made it obvious that they’re having a good time. There was plenty of comradery between them. It was good to see (and hear) them performing so well after all these years. They still got the beat.
THE GO GO’s
Belinda Carlisle – lead vocals
Charlotte Caffey – lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Gina Schock – drums, backing vocals
Kathy Valentine – bass, backing vocals, guitar
Jane Wiedlin – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Beatnik Beach, This Town, Vacation, How Much More, Tonite, Lust to Love, Turn to You, La La Land, Get Up and Go, He’s So Strange, Automatic Rainy Day, Fading Fast, Head Over Heels, Club Zero, Unforgiven, Skidmarks on My Heart, Throw Me a Curve, Our Lips Are Sealed, We Got the Beat, ENCORE: Remember (Walking in The Sand), Can’t Stop the World
Nick McCabe is a Reno-based photojournalist and musician. He’s been shooting concerts in the Reno-Tahoe area since 2006 and writing articles and reviews since 2012, as well as doing interviews on occasion. His musical education and playing experience goes back to 1967. He is a founding member of the Reno Tahoe Forte’ Awards, and he still plays music locally for enjoyment. First concert: Jimi Hendrix. Last concert: we’ll see.