Kings of Wishful Thinking: Live

Go West

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Kings of Wishful Thinking: Live Review

by Dave Thompson

They were the Ace of Base of their day, an electro-soul-pop unit whose mass appeal spanned the generations from boomers and their grans to X-ers and nexters. The half-dozen hits Go West chalked up in the mid-'80s barely reflect their omnipresence at the time, with their music a mainstay of radio and clubs, TV and movies. And when they reappeared after an extended hiatus in 1990, they made their presence felt all over again. However, when you define your times, it's difficult to escape from them, and Go West found themselves incapable of moving on, and so the scene moved on without them -- at least until a new generation grew up nostalgic for an age they could barely remember, and so Peter Cox and Richard Drummie reunited to give the kiddies what they craved. And while many other groups from the day have incorporated more modern styles, or at least give the impression of having heard music recorded post-1993, Go West remain stuck unabashedly in the past. But that presumably is precisely where their fans, young and old, want them, sounding virtually undistinguishable from their records of yore. This may be a live set, and the audience cheers robustly between songs, but there's nothing here to suggest it's not for a DJ who's spinning a set of their hits, for the set list from this 2003 London show was culled almost exclusively from their chart fodder, the arrangements varying slightly in sound, but not in intent. There's the title track (which graced the Pretty Woman film), of course, as well as "We Close Our Eyes" (their biggest hit), "Call Me," "Don't Look Down (The Sequel)," "Faithful" (which revived their career), and "Tracks of My Tears" (which still can make Smokey Robinson fans blanch). The only clue that time has passed is Cox's vocals, which have suffered somewhat with time, but the emotion is still there, and he hits all his notes, so no complaints really. If you think Go West performed unchallenging, bland, overly lush soul for the soulless, this set won't change your mind, but for those who found that their songs' timeless melodies and charged emotions rang true, this is a wish fulfilled.

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