SiriusXM Totally 80’s Live Tour
January 24, 2020
Review and Photos by Greg Perry
Totally 80’s Live featuring Martha Davis & The Motels visits Atlanta
On a rainy and cool Friday in Atlanta, the “SiriusXM Totally 80’s Live” show rolled into town. Once doors opened the bands dried things out and heated up the Buckhead Theater with a fun energy filled three-hour concert that had all in attendance dancing, singing and smiling all night.
The evenings program consisted of three acts: When in Rome II, Bow Wow Wow, and the headliner, Martha Davis & The Motels. When in Rome got things started as they took the stage a few minutes after 8 P.M. The three-piece band was led by original WIR founding member Michael Floreale on keyboards/backing vocals and front man/guitarist/lead vocalist John Ceravolo. They performed an excellent high energy crowd engaging 6 song, 35-minute set with Ceravolo powering the action with his excellent guitar and vocal skills. The set was closed with their biggest hit record, 1987’s “The Promise” which had the entire audience of 500 or so singing along and smiling from ear to ear.
After a short equipment changeover break, Bow Wow Wow took the stage. This version of the band is led by original founding member Leigh Gorman on bass as well as guitarist Erik Ferentinos, drummer Christian Johnson and vocalist Kristen Dinsmore. For reasons unknown to this reviewer, original Bow Wow Wow front woman Annabella Lwin tours with her own version of BWW. With that said, this version of the group puts on a high energy, very entertaining show highlighted by Gorman’s thundering bass lines, Ferentinos’s showmanship and outstanding guitar work all brought to a concert climax by the amazing energy driven performance of Kristen Dinsmore on vocals. The band entertained the audience with a 45-minute 13 song set during with Dinsmore literally never stopping running, kicking and jumping from one end of the stage to the other all while never missing a beat on her vocals. Watching her put so much energy in her performance exhausted the entire audience as we attempted to keep up with her and, by sets end, had us all looking for the oxygen mask to catch our breath. The set featured some of their more well-known tracks to name a few, “Go Wild in The Country”, “C30 C60 C90 Go!”, “What’s the Time” and naturally had to include the show must have in the “MTV” iconic classic “I Want Candy”. As they left the stage the audience was once again all smiles and buzzing with delight over their great performance.
After a small break the crowd began to get settled once again as we all eagerly awaited the highly anticipated appearance of our headliner, the incredible iconic Martha Davis and her Motels. Just before 10 P.M. she made her appearance wearing a black baseball cap and, as the band took their positions, founding member Marty Jourard began the intro to “So LA” while she strapped on her guitar and very quickly, they launched into the song full blast. Then came that moment that any concert goer seeing a long-time iconic vocalist anticipates with great uncertainty, do they still have the “voice”? On this night the question was answered quickly with an emphatic YES!!! From the opening notes of “So LA” until she left the stage 65 minutes later during the closer, 2018’s fantastic “The Last Few Beautiful Days” Martha left no doubt she not only still had the pipes but that she was still very skilled in using them to reach any note she wished and time after time during the show she did so perfectly. Davis’ silky-smooth powerhouse vocals are what really drove those legendary “MTV” era hits to the iconic level and on this night, she performed so many of the crowd’s favorites much to their delight. She was joined on stage by her long-time cohort and fellow “Motels” founding member Marty Jourard on keyboards and sax, guitarist Clint Walsh, drummer Eric Gardner and Nic Johns on bass. Together these 5 skilled musicians expertly recreated the classic sound of the “Motels” for a very appreciative audience of Atlanta concert goers. Over the 65-minute 14 track set they hit the hits a few deep tracks and performed three numbers from their latest release, the critically acclaimed “The Last Few Beautiful Days” from 2018.
After the previously mentioned “So LA” opened the show, the band rolled right into an excellent faithful rendition of “Mission of Mercy” from 1982’s “All Four One’, followed up with the big hit “Suddenly Last Summer” on which Davis’ vocals and Walsh’s guitar work really stood out. Martha then took to the mic to introduce “Take the L” and shared with the audience how “Atlanta born Marty Jourard had written the song for the band’s third album back in 1982.” Once again, Clint Walsh really nailed the guitar part and coupled with Martha’s killer vocals made for a concert highlight. They followed this up with excellent versions of “Closets & Bullets” from the 1979 debut album before taking a moment to remind the audience that this was the 40th anniversary of their 2nd album, 1980’s “Careful”
As a tribute to that wonderful album, the band performed a four-track mini set of tracks from the record. In order of appearance, “Danger”, “Careful”, “Party Professionals” and “Cry Baby” all were performed to perfection. During this stretch of tunes as “Danger” finished, Davis retired her guitar for the evening and took to the mic exclusively for the remainder of the show. She provided a bit of comedy as well when she stepped to the mic removed her baseball cap and, as she tossed it in the crowd, asked ”Let’s see what the hair is doing?” As the cap was removed and the hair flew in every direction the audience gave out a loud yell of approval.
What followed the mini set was a show highlight for all to be sure as they performed an inspired version of “Total Control” from their debut album which featured, in addition to Martha’s seductive vocals, the song’s legendary sax solo from Marty Jourard during which Martha held her mic to the throat of the instrument as Jourard wailed away with those powerful yet beautiful notes. Killer moment!!! They hit the home stretch of the show by performing a pair of great tracks from the new album in “Punchline” and “Tipping Point” before launching head-on into the signature classic hit “Only the Lonely” as the entire audience sang right along with Davis for the song’s entirety. After some quick band introductions, they closed the show with the title track off the new album “Last Few Beautiful Days” complete with Davis waltzing on stage during the intro and the band jamming free form a bit as the song closed. They joined together mid-stage, took their bows to a very appreciative audience and left the stage as the applause rained down. Post show Davis and Jourard as well as several of the members from the other bands all met with fans at the merch table for photos, autographs, hugs and handshakes.
If you grew up during the heyday of MTV or are a fan of 80’s music in general, this show is not to be missed! You will be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable way to spend 3 hours highlighted by great music and with Martha Davis – a true musical icon.