The Genesee Theatre in Waukegan may as well have been a time portal back to the 1980s over Halloween weekend with folks duking it out for the top costume, which ranged from an all too awesome Adam Ant impersonator to aerobics participants straight out of a Jane Fonda video cassette. But even more enticing than the opportunity to dress up like the decade of decadence (without anyone batting an eye) was the chance to see a homecoming of sorts for a retooled Survivor, former leader of The Babys and Bad English turned solo star John Waite, plus A Flock Of Seagulls.
After about 90 minutes (albeit with Sullivan going overboard on the extra riffs at times), the headliners’ “Burning Heart” for keeping these memorable songs in circulation was apparent, and while some die-hards might not accept the multiple membership changes, this isn’t much different than what’s left of Boston, Foreigner or Kansas operating with many younger musicians.
These days, the faces in Survivor might look a lot different than back in those days (other than sole original co-songwriter Frankie Sullivan on guitar), but the current line-up still had the “Eye Of The Tiger” to a certain extent. Though there’s absolutely no way late great front man Jimi Jamison could ever be replaced (and the same goes for his precursor Dave Bickler and co-songwriter/keyboardist Jim Peterik), new singer Cameron Barton is a 22-year-old rock n’ roll heavyweight in the making, while Sullivan’s son Ryan holds down a brawny backbeat, alongside additional gel from longtime bassist Billy Ozzello and somewhat recent recruit Walter Tolentino on keys.
As a result, this edition of Survivor not only delivered all the usual standouts (“I Can’t Hold Back,” “High On You,” “Poor Man’s Son,” “The Search Is Over”) with melodic purity, but also dug into the rarely performed “Light Of A Thousand Smiles,” “Too Hot To Sleep” and “Everlasting.” After about 90 minutes (albeit with Sullivan going overboard on the extra riffs at times), the headliners’ “Burning Heart” for keeping these memorable songs in circulation was apparent, and while some die-hards might not accept the multiple membership changes, this isn’t much different than what’s left of Boston, Foreigner or Kansas operating with many younger musicians.
In the middle, English singer/songwriter John Waite wound up unveiling just how many hits he actually had beyond “Missing You” between his individual career and other bands. “Back On My Feet Again,” “When I See You Smile” (performed a capella), “Change” and “Head First” all found the charismatic veteran in sturdy vocal form, though it was his unexpected cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” that really allowed those occasionally underappreciated pipes to shine.
Openers A Flock Of Seagulls were a bit of the odd act out on this particular bill, though those who favored the new wave aspect of MTV were sure to recall “The More You Live, The More You Love,” “Telecommunication” and “Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You).” At this point, the group is led by its only original member Mike Score (minus the aerodynamic hairstyle), and while it was unclear if he and the current cast were in official costume or simply maintaining the Seagulls’ reputation for eyebrow-raising fashions, everyone could agree that “Space Age Love Song” and “I Ran” hit the synthpop spot.
Upcoming concert highlights at the Genesee Theatre include Culture Club (Nov. 3); The Monkees (Nov. 4); The Avett Brothers (Nov. 5); Goo Goo Dolls (Nov. 9); Styx (Nov. 10); The B-52’s (Nov. 11); Peter Cetera (Nov. 12); Ronnie Spector (Dec. 1); LeAnn Rimes (Dec. 2); Margaret Cho (Dec. 9); Kenny G (Dec. 15); Wizards Of Winter (Dec. 16); Plain White T’s (Dec. 28) and Morris Day & The Time (Dec. 29). For additional details, visit GeneseeTheatre.com.