Since 1982 I’ve pretty much been obsessed with anything related to The Go-Go’s or Belinda Carlisle. While I’ve seen The Go-Go’s many times, I’ve never seen Belinda perform her solo work. Three takeaways from her show at B.B. King’s on 42nd Street in New York are these: 1) Runaway Horses was her best solo album; 2) The Go-Go’s make Belinda way cooler and edgier [duh]; and 3) Belinda’s still flawless so it doesn’t really matter.
To support my first point, her three best songs of the night were off the 1989 cassette tape I wore out my freshman year in college: the title track (amazing); ‘Summer Rain’ (even better) and ‘Leave a Light On’ (her best single ever despite ‘Heaven’s’ world domination in 1987). Other favorites like ‘I Get Weak,’ her favorite song to sing ‘Vision of You’ and lesser known, minor hits ‘(We Want) The Same Thing’ and ‘Live Your Life Be Free’ were good, but they just don’t stand the test of time like songs by The Go-Go’s.
She said it can’t be a Belinda Carlisle concert without a few Go-Go’s songs, but it can also be said that it’s not a Go-Go’s song without The Go-Go’s. With all due respect to the band, it was a bunch of dudes who sounded like a cover band with Belinda Carlisle on vocals. You can’t replace Jane Wiedlin’s ‘hush now baby, don’t be sad‘ on ‘Our Lips Are Sealed.’ You can’t replace Gina Schock’s sic beat on ‘We Got The Beat.’ And you can’t replace the guitar licks and sneers of Charlotte Caffey and Kathy Valentine (forever a Go-Go in my book) on ‘Vacation.’ Together, those five ladies were magic. Irreplaceable.
In the end, it doesn’t matter because it’s Belinda Carlisle. Punk girl from the Valley who conquered the world, survived addiction and the trials of being the lead singer of the world’s first all-female pop band who’s found her way and still looks and sounds sensational. Plus, the best hair in the business. Belinda, I’ve been mad about you for years and for many more to come.