The Fixx hit town last weekend, and for those who were looking for a giant syringeful dose of 80’s nostaglia, I’d say the target was hit. It had been a while since I’d thought of them, even though setlist.fm tells me that they haven’t been strangers to the area. Full disclosure – while I never owned a record of theirs, radio hits throughout the 80s were fairly plentiful and I was expecting to sit on my hands during the stretches of songs I was unfamiliar with. Turns out I was wrong.
One big positive of the night was that the original lineup was up on stage and performing. I get that being in band can lead to tons of strife and the divorce rate likely mirrors the general populace’s, so it’s a bit unusual when forty years pass and the same group of people are on stage and smiling about creating what they did decades ago. Singer Cy Curnin looked like he just left his Peloton instructor role, or perhaps leading a Pilates class. Spry, fit, and full of energy – that’s what helps propel the energy of the music into the crowd. Guitarist Jamie West-Oram, bedecks in a striking bespoke purple suit, certainly helped pull his share of the weight too. I admit that when thinking of ’80s guitarists the list would start with John McGeoch, Johnny Marr, Maurice Deebank, Dave Fielding/Reg Smithies, The Edge, Will Sergeant, Robert Smith et al but yeah – West-Oram is certainly underrated. His bright, chiming and chorus-heavy lines sounded great, and the rest of the band was on point. Pros, these guys are. No farting around, they tap right back into the mindset from when the songs were created and it sounded entirely legitimate.
The radio hits didn’t start until “Are We Ourselves,” from their fourth record, a song I’d not heard in years but instantly recognized. Curnin’s emotive presence was reminiscent of Steve Kilbey’s, gesticulating with arms, making facial gestures and creating a solid bond with the audience. The songs between ones I recognized were solid and could have (should have?) been more widely known as well. “Fatal Shore” from 1998’s _Elemental_ was a driving, powerful moment, and the last record yielded two songs that flowed well with the set (“Shaman” and the title track, “Beautiful Friction”).
The back of the set was stacked with the songs that most came to hear, and they did not disappoint. How could they with career-defining songs as “One Thing Leads To Another,” “Stand Or Fall” and “Red Skies”? I will say that it took a bit of gumption to tuck in the brand-new “Wake Up” as the penultimate song of the night, a song with just right amount of minor key build and guitar delay and lyrics that hint at the Trump/Johnson times we lived (still live?) in… it’s a winner!
The English Beat was the original touring partner for this tour but they had to pull out of the tour and late ’90s alt-band Fastball was a stand-in. Playing as an acoustic duo, Miles Zuniga and Tony Scalzo were a pretty easy-going pair, with a slight country twang to their songs that sometimes came off as a distant cousin to something Drive-By Truckers would come up with around a bonfire. They professed little knowledge about the geography of the region and said they’d just played Fall River, was that a bad place? Being from Texas, towns are too far away to know anything about talking shit about. “The Way” was the big hit they trotted out, but their cover of The Everly Brothers’ “All I Have To Do Is Dream” showcased their spot-on harmonies and synergy that only comes from two people playing music together for a considerable amount of time.