Guest review: Blow Monkeys and Level 42 shake Northampton

Level 42

Our Montreal correspondent and Canadian concert reviewer Peter Ryan was in the UK this weekend and experienced what he called one of the ’80s shows he’s ever seen. He even took time out to pose with Level 42. Here’s his review: 

The UK town of Northampton finds itself nestled between the British metropolises of London and Birmingham, and over the weekend it played host to a superb show of 80s greatness as part of Level 42’s 2018 tour.

A mostly 40s-and-50s crowd filled the modern Royal & Derngate concert hall to hear an on-time kick-off by The Blow Monkeys, who led the show performing newer songs interspersed with classic ’80s tunes that included the sophistipop anthem Digging Your Scene and It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way, which concluded their set. Singer Robert Howard then met and mingled with fans in the foyer as Level 42 finished their last-minute preparations.

Level 42 hit the stage with tremendous fanfare from the gathered crowd, kicking off the show with the crowd-pleasing Running In The Family, followed quickly by a very danceable instrumental jazz piece. After greeting the audience, the band dove into two of their early ’80s mainstays, which included The Sun Goes Down from the 1983 album Standing in the Light and Starchild from their self-titled Level 42 debut (during which keyboardist Mike Lindup led the crowd in hand-clapping). The end of the 50-minute main set concluded with another jazz performance, which preceded longtime favorites The Chinese Way, Something About You and Heaven In My Hands.

Following a quick break, Level 42 rushed onto stage and closed the show with Lessons in Love and Build Myself a Rocket. Needless to say, an ’80s hungry audience went home feeling fulfilled after seeing two of that decades most enduring bands.

10 eighties movies to watch on Amazon Prime right now

Something weird happened to me this weekend: I found a bunch of flicks from the ’80s on Amazon Prime that I hadn’t seen in years and re-discovered why I loved the decade so much in the first place.

In all fairness, I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime these days. But I’m finding it harder to turn off Amazon Prime. They keep surprising me by re-releasing flicks I hadn’t thought about in 30 years. (Sure, the service still offers the big hits – Dirty Dancing and Pretty in Pink – are also available.)

Here are 10 forgotten flicks from the ’80s that you should watch on Amazon Prime right now. (They are currently free to watch for Prime members.)

1. GLEAMING THE CUBE (1989): Christian Slater as a skateboarder/boy detective? We’re game. Thrown in a cameo by Tony Hawk and we’re hooked.

2. MY MOM’S A WEREWOLF (1989): Remember when monster movies were campy first and creepy second? Yep, the ’80s.

3. HOT PURSUIT (1987): One of John Cusack’s forgotten classics, especially when paired with Robert Loggia and a very young Ben Stiller.

4. THE BURBS (1989): Oh, Tom Hanks. Even after the genius of Big, you had a few landmines left in your career. Still, this one is beloved without shame by the ’80s generation.

5. OVER THE TOP (1987): Best part of this movie? Kenny Loggins sings Meet Me Halfway. Other than that, just get a plate of tortilla chips ready for all the cheese.

6. ROBOT CARNIVAL (1987): This anthology of eight short films from Japanese animators is revered by anime fans.

7. THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BONZAI (1984): I just watch this for the John Lithgow scenes. “Laugh-a while you can, monkey-boy.”

8. BAT 21 (1988): A forgotten Vietnam War classic. Gene Hackman stars as a military strategist who is shot down during a recon mission and must survive on the groups with his wits and the help of an Air Force pilot (played by Danny Glover). Catch this one while you can.

9. SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE (1983): When you consider the talent involved (Molly Ringwald, Ivan Reitman, Elmer Bernstein), you will do a double-take when you realize just how forbidden this movie really is. Dreadful, but still a great answer to any trivia challenge.

10. RUNAWAY (1984): Long sigh here, because I just finished watching this. Tom Selleck and Cynthia Rhodes are cops specializing in taking down wayward robots. But the real villain is – wait for it – Gene Simmons from Kiss! God bless our decade!

Twisted Sister doc will change your mind on everything

Have you seen the documentary We Are Twisted F***ing Sister yet on Netflix? No matter what you thought of the band prior to now, this flick will surprise you. It will change your mind about everything you thought about Dee Snider and the boys.

Sure, we all remember their MTV videos, but there is SO MUCH MORE history behind this amazing act. They were born in the early ’70s practically as a tribute band to David Bowie and the Velvet Underground. They would continue to evolve through the glitter and glam area of rock until becoming metal gods in the mid ’80s. There are so many twists and turns along the way that you’ll get dizzy. And you’ll admire the band more than you thought possible.

We Are Twisted F-ing Sister actually only follows the band’s career from the start until they finally signed their first record deal way too many years later. But it’s that first half of their journey that will just wow you. There are no words.

Watch it. Trust me. And then consider hanging out with Dee Snider for a week on the 2019 voyage of The 80s Cruise. He’s hosting the gig, and after seeing this film, I seriously just want to learn their entire catalog and stalk Snider on the ship asking him question after questions about his incredible career.

My podcast co-host B-Rad and I will be hosting trivia on the Celebrity Infinity that week. Other performers include Kenny Loggins, Berlin, sheila E, OMD, The Fixx, English Beat, Grandmaster Flash, Cutting Crew and Club Nouveau. Use the special promo code STUCK to save hundreds off advertised rates.

Just remember to bring your A-game for Dee!

Watch new ‘trailer’ for ‘Solo’ featuring Ron Howard

Director Ron Howard was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Friday night to promote his new Star Wars movie Solo. Hey, that was nicely timed for May the 4th Be With You!

Howard told Colbert the story behind how he took over helming the prequel to the Star Wars franchise and his attraction to the story. He also went into detail about his long history working with Star Wars creator George Lucas. Colbert honored his guest with a special “themed” trailer for the new movie.

Solo debuts in theaters on May 24.

30 years ago, the biggest movie was … Rain Man? 

I’ve always maintained the late ’80s are an era unto itself, bearing little in resemblance to the earlier years of the decade. Nowhere is that obvious in 1988 than at the box office. The top movie of the year (at least according to box office sales): Rain Man?!?

Don’t get me wrong: Rain Man is a fine movie. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning four (including best picture, best actor for Dustin Hoffman, best director and best screenplay). And 30 years later, we can all still quote some of its memorable lines.

I’m an excellent driver.
Three minutes to Wapner. 
K-Mart sucks. 

But still, Rain Man suffers when it comes to its longevity in the pop culture zeitgeist. Do you see a lot of people dressing as Charlie or Raymond Babbitt for ’80s parties? Do you see a Rain Man marathon on cable TV for any holiday weekend?

Rain Man did prevail at the box office in 1988 but not by a huge margin. The movie pulled in $172 million, just enough to squeak pass more memorable flicks such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Coming to America, Big, Die Hard and Beetlejuice.

And if you look at other box office champs in the late ’80s, you’ll notice the same pattern. In 1987, Three Men and a Baby was No. 1. (Well, my theory falls apart a little here, because Top Gun was indeed tops in 1986, and some little known movie named Batman was the hero in 1989). Still, anyone surprised that Rain Man was the top movie in 1988?

Here’s the full top 10 list of movies in 1988, according to Box Office Mojo. You decide if we spent our money in the right place.

1. Rain Man
2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
3. Coming to America
4. Big
5. Twins
6. Crocodile Dundee II
7. Die Hard
8. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!
9. Cocktail
10. Beetlejuice
11. Working Girl
12. A Fish Called Wanda
13. Scrooged
14. Willow
15. Beaches
16. Rambo III
17. Oliver & Company
18. Bull Durham
19. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
20. The Land Before Time

Here’s what you missed on the latest The 80s Cruise

Did you miss out on the 2018 voyage of The 80s Cruise? Wanna know what you missed? Check out this amazing recap video of this year’s cruise, produced by our colleague Curtis Lanclos.

And don’t miss the 2019 trip featuring Kenny Loggins, Dee Snider, Berlin, Sheila E., The Fixx, Grandmaster Flash, Cutting Crew, OMD, the English Beat, Club Nouveau and more. Go to www.the80scruise.com to book, but don’t forget to say Stuck in the ’80s sent you (or use the promo code STUCK) when booking so you get invited to our privately hosted events!