Abduted By The 80s – Wang Chung, The Motels & Naked Eyes at Mayo PAC – Morristown, NJ

Abducted By The 80s – Wang Chung, The Motels & Naked Eyes

Mayo PAC – Morristown, NJ – June 13, 2024
Review & Photos – Rebecca Wolf


With any generation, the music that surrounded you in your formidable years remains a part of you for the rest of your life. There are memories and emotions attached to the music. What decades ago may have just been a song, even a special song, now holds much more meaning when looking back across the decades….now it’s a reminder of the passage of time, of one’s youth, of dreams achieved, and of opportunities missed. Music is always be more than the sum of its parts.

For most who grew up during the 1980s it’s almost impossible to believe it’s been 40 years since this incredible era in musical history. The 80s were “big.” It was a time frequently described as “The Decade of Excess,” and the music of the 80s matched that grandiosity with it’s powerful and attention-grabbing sound. While the rock and roll that arose in the 1970s did not disappear from the map, the music of the 80s frequently added an additional layer of energy, flair and exhilaration. With the advent of MTV, pop stars like Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston reached mega-stardom, becoming cultural and fashion icons. Hair Metal bands, became a staple of the music scene, combining aspects of heavy metal, punk rock and traditional rock music. Hip-Hop/Rap slowly emerged beyond the confines of African American communities into the mainstream, and New Wave, which had its roots in the late 70s, exploded in the 80s with mixtures of punk, pop, dance music, and synthesizers.

For those who were passionate about music in the 80s, it’s likely that emotion and connection has continued on over the decades. So, when an opportunity arises to attend a performance of any of those favorite 80s artists, and to experience a walk down memory lane, these fans will jump at the chance. And, jump they did for Abducted By The 80s, on June 13th at Mayo Performing Arts Center, a time to dance, sing and relive 80s magic with Wang Chung, The Motels and Naked Eyes. Each of these New Wave bands created significant buzz across the US in the early 80s with mega-hits that remain a part of the fabric of 80s culture, including, Wang Chung’s “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” “Dance Hall Days” and “Let’s Go,” The Motel’s “Only The Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer” and Naked Eyes, “Always Something There To Remind Me” and 
“Promises, Promises.”

While there were likely those in the crowd who were only familiar with the bands’ hits, the audience equally included those who were devotees of the bands and sang along to all the songs performed in each set. This love of the music also extended to a devotion towards the original band members. “We love you Pete,” a fan yelled to Pete Byrne, original member of the British duo who formed Naked Eyes. Byrne, performing with the support of a guitarist and a drummer, looked stealth beneath a black beanie and tinted glasses. The band’s 30-minute set included “(What) In the Name of Love,” “Voices in My Head,” “Piccadilly,” “(I Just Can’t Get Over) Losing You,” “Promises, Promises,” and “Always Something There to Remind Me.” Byrne didn’t need to do much to encourage the already enthused crowd to sing along during the chorus of “Promises, Promises,” and band’s mega-hit inspired all in the audience to rise to their feet and sing with gusto to “Always Something There to Remind Me.”

Excitement brewed in the theater as the audience awaited the arrival of The Motels. As the darkened stage began to fill with band members the microphone at centerstage remaining vacant. Entering the stage solo, was the voice of The Motels, Marta Davis, who arrived to the applause of the adoring crowd. “I got sick before the show,” Davis announced to the crowd. “So, sorry if I sound crunchy!” she apologized. The clapping throughout the crowd appeared to be both a sign of thanks for being there, and crunchy voice or not, we still love you!

If Davis’ deep, rich vocals are what she sounds like when she’s sick, what a voice she still must have when she isn’t “crunchy.” Davis carries herself with command, grace and nice splash of sass. “We’d like thank our drummer. It’s the first time he ever played with The Motels. He’s the drummer for Wang Chung. We call him our SOFA…. because he Saved Our F-ng Ass,” she said with a broad grin and cheers from the crowd. The Motels set list opened with “Tipping Point,” from their 2018 album The Last Few Beautiful Days, continuing with their 1983 hit “Suddenly Last Summer,” from the album Little Robbers, and “Danger,” from 1980’s Control. “Take the L,” a powerful number from 1982’s All Four One, was followed by “Total Control,” a beautiful, sultry number with a sax solo performed centerstage by original saxophonist/keyboardist Marty Jourard. “Now I have to change it all up again,” Davis shared with the crowd. “It’s my emotional roller coaster up here,” she shared before performing “So, L.A.,” a funkier, rock number from All Four One, featuring guitar player Clint Walsh. Continuing with 1982, the drummer added a seductive drum beat for “Apocalypso,” before the set ended with the band’s 1982 hit “Only the Lonely.” The crowd swayed in their seats singing along. Nearing the end of the number….just before the song hits the final high note…”only the loneLYYYY can play” Davis stopped, laughed and said, “Oh, shit,” before hitting the note, to the cheers of the crowd.

The audience was fully steeped in the 80s and ready for the energy of Wang Chung when the band hit the stage. While it’s been over 40 years since Jack Hues (lead vocalist and guitar) and Nick Feldman (guitar and vocals) formed Wang Chung, they continue to bring immense energy and spirit to the stage, in order that “everybody have fun tonight.” The set opened with “Wait,” from the soundtrack of the movie “To Live and Die in L.A.,” written by Wang Chung, followed by “Fire in the Twilight,” from “The Breakfast Club,” and “Space Junk,” released on the band’s greatest hit’s album, and used on the series “The Walking Dead.

“The next song is about my ex-girlfriend,” Feldman shared with the crowd. “Don’t worry, we’re still friends. She introduced me to my wife,” he said with a chuckle before singing lead vocals on “Rent Free,” from the band’s 2012 album Tazer Up! “Eyes of the Girl,” from 1986’s Mosaic, showcased Hues’ still powerful, rich vocals, while “City of the Angels” featured a dramatic, powerful drum and bass instrumental. Throughout the set, Feldman glided about the stage as he passionately played his headless bass, met Hues mid stage for a guitar jam, made his way to Schulz on the keys and to Thompson on the drums.

The audience cheered as Hues introduced “To Live and Die in L.A.,” showcasing Schulz on the keyboard. As engaged as the crowd was, it was initially a hard sell when Hues encouraged the audience to stand for their 1987’s “Let’s Go.” At first nobody responded, then a few arose, prompting more to follow suit. “We want to hear you!” shouted Hues. “You can sing it louder if you stand up!” As the crowd sang “Let’s go baby, let’s go,” more and more began to stand. “Come on louder,” Hues admonished. “Like on a football field. Now, don’t sit down,” he said once he’d gotten everyone standing. Playing their 1984 hit “Dance Hall Days,” the audience remained on their feet, dancing along, passionately singing as the band performed a cover of the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” The energy for the final number of the evening, the band’s 1986 No. 2 hit, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” was at its peak both on the stage and in the audience.

Forty years may have passed since the glory days of the 80s but the evening was a wonderful opportunity to turn back the hands of time and walk down memory lane. While there’s always something there to remind me of days gone by and suddenly, last summer feels like it could’ve been 1983, I’m certain everybody did have fun tonight.