A relentless, high-power pop assault was mounted from the Richie Coliseum stage by the Los Angeles Bangles, New Jersey's Bongos and the English Beat Saturday night. Ears were charmed, hearts uplifted and feet set in motion.
The Bangles played rich, evanescent, psychedelia-tinged folk rock, mixing a few well-chosen covers--Simon and Garfunkel's "Hazy Shade of Winter," the odd Emmit Rhodes composition--with their own strong originals. Both guitarists and drummer Vicki Peterson traded off lead vocal duties as well as weaving together shimmering three-part harmonies. Guitarist Debbi Peterson consistently impressed the audience with her sharp, countrified lead breaks.
The Bongos conjured their customary, magic-mixing, unabashed lyricism with equal parts whimsy and white noise. The new songs, such as "Talk About the Ocean," are among the most powerful to date.
The English Beat topped off the evening, showcasing an expanded lineup and replenished repertoire. The new material was more stylistically discrete, less eclectic than their older stuff. "Spar With Me" was dread reggae complete with tasteful dub effects. "Soul Salvation" bleached and blended Stax-Volt sounds into a handsome Elvis Costello-style pastiche. "Save It for Later" was graced with chiming folk guitars. The crowd responded with blissful, dance-crazy pandemonium.