LYNN — Sunday evening, music lovers journeyed back in time to the days when hair was huge and worries were few. Retro Futura, a package tour featuring five acts that dominated the charts and MTV back when the Music Television channel actually showed videos, invaded Lynn Auditorium and for a shade over three hours had folks singing and dancing in the aisles.
Sharing co-headline status on this year’s tour is British band ABC, featuring sartorially splendid frontman Martin Fry, and Belinda Carlisle, the lead singer of The Go-Go’s who went on to great solo success. The bill is fleshed out by British New Wavers Limahl (Kajagoogoo), Tony Lewis (The Outfield) and Modern English.
The 2017 Retro Futura outing at the Auditorium featured a stronger lineup (Howard Jones, The English Beat, Men Without Hats, Katrina and the Waves, Paul Young, and Modern English), but Sunday’s attendees seemed perfectly happy with this crew spearheading this trip down memory lane.
Fry, ably assisted by a four-piece band that included a saxophonist, went on last and delivered the evening’s best set. Dapper in black and a tailored silk jacket, he was on fire from the start, opening with “When Smokey Sings,” ABC’s highest-charting song (number five in 1987), fueled by its soulful vocal, driving rhythm and Roxy-style sax.
Hits “Poison Arrow,” “Be Near Me” and “The Look of Love,” other ABC high points, sounded great. Album cuts “The Night You Murdered Love” and “King Without a Crown” got a serious groove going, and “How to be a Millionaire” was funkified Robert Palmer-style thanks to hellacious bass and drums.
Carlisle, likely the main draw in this lineup, delivered her usual fan-pleasing performance. Backed by four musicians, including the bassist and keyboardist who shared the stage with Fry, she played one hit after another. A trio of Go-Go’s faves (“Vacation,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “We Got the Beat”) performed one after the other was fabulous, as was a terrific set-closing “Heaven is a Place on Earth.” “Circle in the Sand” and “Mad About You” were loud singalongs.
It was obvious that ’80s cutie pie Limahl, even without his hair gussied up with an obscene amount of ozone-layer-destroying Aqua Net, was a favorite of the party-hearty ladies in attendance. The hit “Too Shy” set off a dancing frenzy and had women boldly moving a little closer to the stage.
Lewis, voice of rockers The Outfield, blazed through a fine five-song set that included the classic “Your Love” and “Say it Isn’t So” and “All the Love in the World.” He and Limahl shared the same backing musicians.
Six-piece Modern English, with four original members including frontman Robbie Grey, were a bit more punk than pop. They closed with “that song,” the blissful “I Melt with You,” thrilling the crowd. “Hands Across the Sea” and the newish “Moonbeam” were also terrific.