A complete whirlwind – that’s how the Go-Go’s spun, skipped and at times, flat out ripped through their set on Friday, March 25, commanding the width of the stage inside the Reno Grand Sierra Resort’s Grand Theatre stage.
Considering the band is now just running victory tour laps following their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one might be surprised to see a group whose first album, “Beauty And The Beat,” hit the airwaves more than 40 years ago. However, these expectations were shattered during the first several songs which were played without so much as a break to take a breath.
“This is our fourth try at this tour,” announced guitarist Jane Wiedlin, mentioning the repeated attempts to schedule a tour during the COVID pandemic. The band also joked that they wanted to play a new song, “Club Zero,” saying, at least it’s a new song if you don’t count the past year in which they didn’t have the opportunity to perform it.
With the band having just six scheduled appearances this year, all along the West Coast and ending with a one small club show and one arena appearance in their home city of Los Angeles, members of the audience traded stories of how far they flew to see the band; I heard Detroit and New York mentioned. And that energy was palpable throughout the show with large sections of the crowd remaining up on their feet throughout the entirety of the 90-minute set.
One presence was noticeably missing – drummer Gina Schock who is recovering from surgery. Her place behind the kit was taken by Blondie’s Clem Burke, who garnered applause when he was introduced with the band saying that they were Blondie fans since before the Go-Go’s started. However, his stage presence took a backseat to the women bouncing and strutting through 21 songs mixed from their four studio albums.
Vocalist Belinda Carlisle seemed almost spritely as she twirled throughout the songs, her voice still sounding amazing, and the auditorium filling with cheers when she would change the inflection of some of the band’s well-known songs, making them sound almost better than the originals.
Peppering their biggest singles like “Head Over Heels” and “Vacation” throughout their set, they saved their largest songs for last. “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “We Got The Beat” concluded their set. All before they returned for an encore that included their driving version of the Shangri-La’s “Remember (Walking In The Sand)” and ending the night with “Can’t Stop The World”.
Despite the band’s supposed farewell tour having passed several years ago, with a Broadway musical, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, the second and third band members releasing books (Gina Schock’s backstage stories of the band and Kathy Valentine’s memoir in addition to Carlisle’s 2011 memoir), and an audience willing to fly cross country to see the band play, The Go-Go’s – even 40 years after the absolutely epic “Beauty And The Beat” record – are still able to whip a room into a dancing frenzy from the moment they hit the stage until they walk off at the end of the night.