Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Book of Love concert review: Corona, Calif.

There was a distinct sense of joie de vivre during Book of Love's performance at Club 80s Bar & Grill on Dec. 8. Core members Susan and Ted Ottaviano definitely pleased a devoted group of fans who robustly sang along to every word.

Formed in 1983, the New York City synth pop band notched five top 20 singles on Billboard's Dance chart, released four studio albums and embarked on two big tours opening for Depeche Mode before splitting up during the mid-'90s.

The music was kept alive through prominent film soundtrack placements.

Having reunited for sporadic gigs since 2009, the group toured nationally last year in support of MMXVI - Book of Love - The 30th Anniversary Collection. Released via Rhino Records to mark their eponymous 1986 debut album, it features remastered digital hits, unreleased demos and two new songs. Some special shows with all four original members took place in New York, Houston and San Francisco. 

Another compilation, Book of Love: The Sire Years 1985-1993, is due in stores Jan. 19, while a new EP, All Girl Band, will be available digitally and on CD Feb. 17. It will feature remixes by Silent City UK, Lost In Stars, Night Club and Echoing Green, plus live tracks recorded during the 2016 tour.

In Corona, Calif., the duo kicked off the hour-long set in upbeat fashion with "Modigliani (Lost in Your Eyes)." Ted, on keyboards/backing vocals, played live cowbell amid "Still Angry" (later, he'd
pull out the sleigh bells and melodica). Before an idyllic "Happy Day," ebullient singer Susan - clad in a regal black dress with feathery black boa - said the song was about "hope and new beginnings" and played a bit of tambourine.

"You Make Me Feel So Good" was a highlight; more recent tune "All Girl Band," where Susan name checked classic female musicians, proved just as appealing as the older material. Ted moved front and center to sing lead on the Sixties-pop influenced "Sunny Day," the rarely performed single off 1991's Candy Carol, as Susan handled keyboards.

Toward the end, Book of Love turned in solid versions of "Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls" and the dance chart-topping "Boy" (dedicated to "every person that felt like a misfit"). Come encore time, the musicians handled out flowers during the grand "I Touch Roses" and closed with "Lullaby." 

Upcoming shows:
1/13 Miami, FL...Kitchen Club
1/14 Orlando, FL...The Social
2/9 Seattle, WA...The Crocodile
4/21 Denver, CO...Herman's Hideaway

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