Children of the ’80s went back to the future Friday (Nov. 6) for the sing-along “I Want My 80s Concert” at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The night read like a rewind of Billboard charts during the decade: ’80s teen queens Debbie Gibson and Tiffany; synth-pop pioneers Mike Score of A Flock of Seagulls and Howard Jones; hip-hop founding fathers DMC (of Run-D.M.C.) and Tone Loc; and rockers Dee Snider, of Twisted Sister, and Lou Gramm, the voice of Foreigner’s biggest anthems. (The stars have combined for 51 top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hits in their careers).
Original MTV VJ Martha Quinn (in spandex for a spell) emceed the nearly three-hour bill, backed throughout by deft ’80s cover band Jessie’s Girl, who linked the headliners’ sets with amped-up covers including show opener “The Final Countdown” (originally by Europe), “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” (Wham!) and “Video Killed the Radio Star” (the Buggles, famously the first video MTV spun Aug. 1, 1981).
Among the many highlights: Tiffany’s take on Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine”; Gibson’s “Shake Your Love,” “Out of the Blue” and “Only in My Dreams” medley; Score’s “I Ran (So Far Away”); Jones’ “Everlasting Love,” “No One Is to Blame” and “Things Can Only Get Better”; DMC’s “It’s Tricky;” Tone Loc’s “Funky Cold Medina” and “Wild Thing”; Snider’s not-quite family-friendly “We’re Not Gonna Take It”; and Gramm’s finale of “Feels Like the First Time,” “Jukebox Hero” and “I Want to Know What Love Is,” the latter lifted higher by the soaring vocals of the Harlem Gospel Choir.
All acts wrapped the night with a joyous cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Prior to show time, Billboard mingled with Gibson and Gramm, who shared their thoughts on a range of topics (beyond only the ’80s).
Gibson, star of 17 musicals in 17 years following her original chart-topping run, on receiving the Rockers on Broadway lifetime achievement award Monday night (Nov. 9):
Gibson on Big Black Delta’s hooky new single, “RCVR,” on which she’s featured:
A toughie: Gramm on his favorite Foreigner, and solo, hits:
And, Gramm musing about Billboard‘s recent report on how almost no Hot 100 hits are now written by only one person, whereas, when Foreigner was first scaling the chart, approximately half of all entries were penned by a single writer:
Additional reporting by Alex Vitoulis