|Photos by Stacy Schwartz|
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.
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.
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.