Tainted Love (In Praise (and Defense of) 80’s Pop)

by Shannon Murfree on May 15, 2013

in ME AND..., MUSIC, SHALL WE?

Addicted to Love

Addicted to (Tainted) Love

It’s Friday Night. I’m driving in a car with my road dawg, Wanda, to a tiny dive bar way outside of the city to see one the Bay Area’s best 80’s pop cover bands, Tainted Love. We’ve been driving for awhile. Are we the only fools that would drive out here for the experience — to re-experience the great dance hits of the 1980’s?  Yeah, the Regan, Iran Contra, end of the Cold War, greed is good 1980’s. Was there any good music in the 80’s? Yes. Yes there was.

We find the bar, it’s called Dave’s and it looks like it holds about a hundred people at capacity. There’s a line out the front door. I don’t do lines, not in a bitchy way, I’m just too old. And I didn’t drive all the way out here to get turned away if it’s sold out.

We bribe the doorman, slipping him an undisclosed amount and using our feminine wiles to charm his 6’5’ frame, and then he opens the door into a sauna of sweaty Walnut Creek, Orinda, Concord, and Clayton housewives that are out for their one night a quarter, sporting frizzed hair, and green eye make-up.

The spirit of the 80’s is alive and well.

We position ourselves a row back from the stage, and prepare to slather ourselves with Tainted Love. By the time the band hits the stage, I already have a nice layer of uncontrollable sweat, and when the guitarist fires up the riff from Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” I go wild, stripping off as many layers as legally allowed, throwing my hands in the air, shouting at the top of my lungs, shooting my finger guns, “Fire Away!”

Tainted Love plays for the next three hours, giving us 80’s classics like “Purple Rain” (at which point one of the housewives leans in to ask me, “What song is this?” I tell her but my disdain is palpable. Prince was my 2nd live concert EVER, Purple Rain tour circa 1984, so yeah, this chick can kick rocks), Proclaimers’ “500 miles,” Queen’s “Under Pressure,” the ol’ crowd pleasing Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name,” a Madonna medley, and a pinch of Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309” (go ahead, you know you want belt that one out) into Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” (that one too), and of course Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love.”

We scream along with every song, drunk on memories. We are sixteen again. I am cruising around with my friends, driving too fast, chasing parties, sipping wine coolers.  I am hanging at my friend’s house party when the cool guys show up and quickly exit, shaking their heads at how lame the party is. Doh! I am one of those badass ponytail girls in the Robert Palmer video as Tainted Love plays “Addicted to love.” My life flashes before my eyes.

Tainted Love is selling the 80’s back to us, offering a look back at a time when MTV played videos and broke bands, before the age of reality television. When I look around at the crowd Tainted Love draws, especially at the larger venues, I see a sea of late 20-somethings enjoying this music the way I did, and do, with reckless abandon, at top volume. I wonder, what do these kids know about Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” (the original with Kevin Bacon, not that new fangle shizz that came out a few years ago) or The Outfield’s “Your Love”? What memories are they making set against the backdrop of these tunes? Do the 80’s mean to them what they mean to me? I don’t know. But they know enough to be here and having the time of their young lives.

All hail 80’s pop!

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