Las Vegas Sun

June 26, 2017

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Five groups revive music of era in Regeneration Tour

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Flock of Seagulls’ founders include a couple of hairdressers.

The ’80s were the formative years for Carlos Keyes.

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The Human League, poster children of synth pop.

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ABC's Martin Frye: From journalist to band member.

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Pete Byrne

In Today's Sun

Beyond the Sun

IF YOU GO

What: Regeneration Tour 2008

When: 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Planet Hollywood

Tickets: $69 to $125; 474-4000, ticketmaster.com

“I grew up with the music of that period,” Keyes said during a recent interview from his New York City offices.

Keyes, a former musician, became an agent representing the likes of Gladys Knight and Kool and the Gang. He grew nostalgic while attending the Retro Fest of ’80s bands in Europe — where there was a resurgence of synth pop in the early 2000s.

He decided he wanted to pay homage to the music of his youth and created Regeneration Tour 2008, a 20-city tour that comes to Las Vegas on Saturday.

The lineup at Planet Hollywood includes Belinda Carlisle (of Go-Gos fame), the Human League, ABC, Naked Eyes and A Flock of Seagulls. (Flock of Seagulls replaces Dead or Alive, which had to cancel because lead singer Pete Burns fell ill.)

“We’re celebrating an era of music, that’s what’s important,” Keyes said.

The concert won’t have a single headliner or anyone considered an opening act. Each group will perform a 30-minute set.

Keyes plans to make the Regeneration Tour an annual event with the bands changing from year to year.

“I think there’s an audience for this,” Keyes said.

The Human League

The Human League could be the poster child for ’80s synth pop.

Synthesizer players Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh started with an avant-garde bent and added vocalist Philip Oakey in 1977. When Ware and Marsh left a few years later, Oakley enlisted vocalists Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall. They teamed with backing musicians to marry pop melodies with dense synthesizer backing and electronic beats.

That trio was responsible for the band’s big hits, including “Love Action (I Believe in Love),” “The Sound of the Crowd,” “(Keep Feeling) Fascination,” “Human” and “Don’t You Want Me.”

The current band lineup includes keyboardist Neil Sutton, who has been with the Human League since 1990, multi-instrumentalist Nic Burke and percussionist Rob Barton.

ABC

In 1980, music journalist Martin Fry interviewed members of the band Vice Versa for his fanzine Modern Drugs. The group adopted Fry as lead vocalist and changed its name to ABC. The band was pigeonholed as part of the New Romantic movement of the time, which included bands such as Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and the Human League.

Its first single, “Tears Are Not Enough,” made the UK Top 20 in 1981. The band followed it with such hits as “Poison Arrow,” “The Look of Love,” “Be Near Me,” “Vanity Kills” and “When Smokey Sings.”

ABC split up in 1992, but Fry resurrected the band’s name in 1997 and continues to tour.

A Flock of Seagulls

This one-(and-a-half)-hit wonder of the new wave era has gone through as many hairdos as personnel changes since it hit the music scene in 1980.

Hairdresser Mike Score (lead vocals, keyboards) formed A Flock of Seagulls with his brother Ali (drums) and fellow hairdresser Frank Maudsley (bass). Guitarist Paul Reynolds joined several months later. The group’s “Telecommunication” became an underground hit in Euro-disco and new wave clubs and the band signed a major label contract with Jive. By the end of the year it had its only major hit single. For those keeping count at home, that would be “I Ran (So Far Away),” which reached No. 3 on the charts. It got a half-hit for the instrumental follow-up “Space Age Love Song,” which reached No. 30.

The group broke up in 1986, but Mike Score assembled a new lineup in 1989.

Naked Eyes

Another synth-pop group from the ’80s, Naked Eyes reached back to the ’60s for its first Top 10 hit, choosing the Burt Bacharach-Hal David tune “Always Something There to Remind Me.”

But the band’s founders, vocalist Pete Byrne and keyboardist Rob Fisher, wrote most of the band’s material, including the hits “Promises, Promises” and “When the Lights Go Out.”

After two successful albums, the duo walked away and didn’t reunite until 1999 when they decided to make a third album. Fisher died of complications of stomach surgery before the project could be completed, and Byrne eventually carried on with the group.

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