Live Music + Gig Reviews

Go West @ IndigO2, London

23 April 2010

Twenty-fifth anniversary tours need to be finely judged affairs. Play too much on the nostalgia of the past, and you might as well be a tribute act. Shove in too much new stuff and the audience are just going to be annoyed – they want to hear your biggest hit for the 5,000th time even if you’re sick to the teeth of it.

At IndigO2, a bijou and rather intimate venue, Go West get the mix just about right and add in some covers to boot, including Kings Of Leon favourite Sex On Fire and Tracks Of My Tears by Smokey Robinson – a fitting choice for a band who were always the kings of blue-eyed soul.

Balancing the tracklisting is a more difficult task than might be obvious at first. Never the superstars of the ’80s to the extent of their contemporaries Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, their top twenty hits, including Don’t Look Down, We Close Our Eyes and Call Me (all of which are served up tonight) have nonetheless stood the test of time. Five years after their UK heyday, when they were largely on the wane this side of the Atlantic, they scored their biggest radio-friendly unit shifter of all with The King Of Wishful Thinking, written for the movie soundtrack Pretty Woman, and broke America in a way most UK bands only dream of.

Ironically, the true value of this didn’t really show until 2003 when the popularity they’d enjoyed then gave singer Peter Cox a step up on the reality TV show Reborn In The USA, in which he finished a commendable third behind Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet and Michelle Gayle. It’s significant to mention this because tonight, the IndigO2 audience is clearly a mixture of ’80s nostalgists, long-time fans, and the younger generation Cox picked up from the TV show and the sell-out tour that followed it.

The night is a well-planned and well-advised nod to all, as well as to Go West guitarist and bandmate Richard Drummie, who Cox has included in his second chance at fame when he probably could have taken all the glory himself. In fact, with a new day job as the singer in Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, he doesn’t even have to do this at all, except that he clearly wants to.

The reason he does, of course, is that Peter Cox is a true entertainer. A singer-songwriter who writes his own music, has no pretentions about who or what he is, can sing damn well and knows how to play an audience. And you know what? His new singles, both solo and with Drummie, are more than good enough to be in the mix as well. He’s still pretty fit, too.

So it’s not indie. It’s not supercool. And yes, at least one of Go West used to have a mullet. Who cares? Sometimes it’s important to remember where you came from. If you look like you’re enjoying yourself while you’re doing it, that’s when you know you’ve done something right.

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Go West @ IndigO2, London