Motor City Muscle Review: Belinda Carlisle, Bulletboys, August 17, Hart Plaza


“This is my birthday today. This is an unforgettable evening. In more ways than one”

These were the words of Belinda Carlisle, onstage to kick off the evening’s festivities for the brand new Motor City Muscle festival, a celebration of classic muscle cars and classic rock (as well as punk, indie, garage, and rock in several of its other myriad forms) and while she was clearly ready to celebrate (Belinda Carlisle’s music being a solid soundtrack for a celebration) it’s obvious she was also commenting on the fact that her 6:30 set was being played to a slightly soggy and largely empty space at the main stage in Hart Plaza.

Yes, her set was pretty sparsely attended. You’d think a free show by a bona fide rock/pop icon would attract a decent crowd.. But no, Belinda Carlisle played to kind of no crowd at all. She still put on a great show regardless. I’ve been a big fan of The GoGo’s and was chuffed to hear “Vacation” and “Our Lips Are Sealed” but had almost forgotten how many hits she had from her solo work – all of those big shiny pop songs brought the memories back though. Songs like “Mad About You”, “Circle In The Sand”, and “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” still hold up today.  Also, I have to add that the birthday Ms. Carlisle was celebrating was her 60th. She does not seem 60.

Besides the sparse crowds, the first night of the festival was not without other problems, with the weather delaying and even halting some of the night’s performances. This was the case for LA glam metal survivors Bulletboys, who had their set stopped after about half a song by some lady who looked like she was gonna get up there and announce the winners of a 50/50 draw or something. Instead, she said they had to get off stage because of safety concerns over a possible lightning storm. This did not seem very “Smooth Up In Ya,” Motor City Muscle. Luckily, things got going again a bit later and though I kind of hate it when people say that a band “killed it,” Bulletboys pretty much killed it even though they also played to a smallish crowd on the even smaller Riverside stage. Really not too sure though about them slipping a bit of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” into set closer “Smooth Up In Ya.” It was a nice gesture to the recently departed Queen Of Soul in her hometown, but maybe we don’t really need a Bulletboys/Aretha mashup, guys. Still, Bulletboys delivered a set of straight up fun rock ‘n’ roll that ended up being one of the most memorable sets of the weekend.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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