The Go-Go's at the Minnesota Zoo, 6/14/11

Categories: Last Night
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Photos by Stacy Schwartz
The Go-Go's
June 14, 2011
Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater, Apple Valley

The Minnesota Zoo's annual "Music in the Zoo" series got off to what could have been a downright miserable night last night, as the persistent rain, lightning and thunder rumbled ominously over the outdoor amphitheater and delayed the show by over an hour. But fans persisted, a near-capacity venue's worth of hardy Minnesotans decked out in ponchos like a legion of caped concert crusaders, and eventually a cluster of hand-wringing stagehands wielding squeegees and sopping wet towels deemed the stage safe enough to allow for the Go-Go's to finally come out and play.

All that frustration and chilled-to-the-bone impatience melted away the second Belinda Carlisle filed out and yanked her microphone off its stand to declare, "You guys are nuts. You're even more nuts than we are!"

And just like that the stage lights flashed on and the band pounded their way through "Vacation," playing with the ferocity of five women who knew that their set might get cut short at any minute. Every so often, gusts of wind blast the stage with clouds of shimmering, misty rain, but being exposed to the elements only seemed to make the Go-Go's play louder and smile harder, visibly entertained by the sight of a thousand hardy Minnesotans bouncing up and down in their brightly colored smocks.

"I can't believe you guys braved this weather for us, we are so flattered," guitarist Jane Wiedlin gushed. Though some of the Go-Go's reunion tour dates were canceled last year due to a knee injury sustained by Wiedlin, it was clear she has since recovered -- she was easily the most enthused and engaging member of the band last night, bounding around in a bright orange vintage Reese's Peanut Butter Cup sweatshirt and commanding the crowd from her side of the stage.

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Carlisle, on the other hand, was the picture of perfection, her shiny hair combed neatly around her face and her demeanor sweet and innocent. Aside from a few hilariously awkward, exaggerated dance moves, Carlisle let her singing remain the focus of her performance, and her voice shot out like a beam of bright light and warmed the drizzly night air.

The band saved many of their best-known hits for last half of their set, and though it's unclear how long they would have played if their set hadn't been delayed, they still managed to fit hits "Head Over Heels," "Our Lips Are Sealed," and set closer "We Got the Beat" into their hour-long performance along with a Rolling Stones cover ("Mothers Little Helper") and at least a half dozen other tunes. With the way the Go-Go's were playing last night, it seemed like the crowd would have happily danced in the rain until they'd played every song in the book.

Personal bias:
Though I don't own any Go-Go's records now, Belinda's voice seeped subliminally into much of my childhood through the radio and movies. Her voice makes me think of bangle bracelets and soda-flavored lipgloss and the pink plastic Corvette that carted around my Barbie dolls.
The crowd: A sea of dancing rain ponchos.
Overheard in the crowd: "Are we having fun yet??" an eerily cheerful woman asked her group of scowling, soaked friends about 45 minutes after the set was supposed to start. "This isn't what I had in mind when you asked if I wanted to go see the Go-Go's," one of the friends replied, grimacing.
Random notebook dump: It turns out it's really hard to take notes in the pouring rain, so apologies about the lack of a complete set list.

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14 comments
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Michael
Michael

I saw Belinda Carlisle solo about 20 years ago.  It was fun to see her, but her vocals were a bit weak.  And, typically, vocals don't improve with age.

I loved the Go-Go's as a kid, and I was tempted to go to the Zoo, despite Carlisle's vocals.It's funny that the reviewer states: "Carlisle let her singing remain the focus of her performance, and her voice shot out like a beam of bright light and warmed the drizzly night air."  I wondered if Carlisle might have been lip syncing.

I am glad to see the comments better reflect reality.  But what did the reviewer hear?

Goodgossip01
Goodgossip01

she sounded incredible and was in no way lip-syncing

Craig Leaf
Craig Leaf

I thought the concert was great even though I was soaked.  Oh well, such as to be expected with the outdoors.  I liked how they extended "Head Over Heels" into a "jam"!

Johnsond
Johnsond

If you are from the 60s and 70s you remember  that is the way out side concerts were. Last night was the best and real concert I have been to in years. As a prof bass player I know the problems with weather. 10 STARS. There energy and love of there music was outstanding! If you want fake music go see a cover artist.

Autumn Blakey
Autumn Blakey

I enjoyed the show. I think the tent was a joke. if you are going to have a summer concert series then you should invest in a proper shelter in case of bad weather. Many problems such as time, sound and moral could have been solved by proper shelter for the band. I hope lessons were learned last night. 

showmama
showmama

It's not a dedicated concert venue, it's a zoo that has great outdoor shows. The stage structure is the same as you would see at most outdoor concerts.  No better, no worse. You want a guaranteed dry show, go to an indoor venue.

Autumn Blakey
Autumn Blakey

when you have 20 plus shows it then becomes a dedicated concert venue. You must have not seen the billboard showing the rest of the shows for the summer. I got wet and I accept that. Putting the band and future bands at risk because of a lack of shelter is unacceptable. I didn't mind getting wet it was kind of a fun unique experience and made for a good story. The show was so much fun I didn't care. 

Autumn Blakey
Autumn Blakey

I was the tall guy in all black with the shaved head at the meet and greet. It was so cool to meet the band and to get on their tour bus was a big plus

Catfish
Catfish

Autumn ... you couldn't be more correct! I've run outdoor events for many years and even though you can't control what Mother Nature deals you, you do have to be prepared for it!  Buying a covering for the back and some proper sides for that tented stage would have solved the problem with the delays. I wouldn't have blamed the band for not playing, that was a dangerous scenario. Also, I paid to meet the band before hand and I can tell you that they were there and certainly looked ready to go. The delays were not their fault, but the fault of a poorly run venue. I saw many other issues all over the place. I give the band an A+ but give the venue and those running it a failing grade. If you don't know how to run "rain or shine" events, then you shouldn't be doing it.

Billysue
Billysue

Bill from Brainerd,I agree with Autumn 100 percent.Have a decent structure for the band so this doesnt happen again.

Me
Me

Yes, it was a huge drag waiting for the band to appear.  While they waffled around and checked weather radar, the crowd was waiting in the rain.  But then again, the band has to proceed on to future dates -- they can't take the same risks.  But then again, again, everyone knows that Zoo shows have a strict end time, so the show time steadily drained away (with the crowd's enthusiasm) as everyone waited.

With that said, once they appeared, everything brightened up immensely.  They have 4-5 really good songs, which were interspersed by filler and that awkward Stones cover.  Vocals were suspect, but when hasn't that been true about Belinda?  Jane was fun to watch; she always appears to be having the best time of anyone within 20 miles.

I was impressed by Charlotte ... seemed like the rest of the band leaned on her musical skills, whether on lead or keyboards ...

Ah, what else, the sound was great, and the drums in particular sounded just right.

Too bad about the weather, but that's the risk for an outdoor summer show in MN.

Bill Berditzman
Bill Berditzman

What a mess of a concert.  $70 for 60 minutes??? The vocals were way off, the stage hands were all standing around looking clueless and they had the nerve to delay the show over an hour when the weather wasn't improving.  The ticket said 8:00 rain or shine, they should have told the band that.

Go-Go wannabe
Go-Go wannabe

I had a blast once they started playing, but I agree with Bill -- rain or shine means start playing at 8:00 or cancel at that time. $70 for a cut-short concert is a rip off.

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