Review: Debbie Gibson at House of Blues
House of Blues
June 18, 2022
You can’t kick off a limited-edition Cabbage Patch Kid these days without taking a nostalgic ’80s tour. In Houston alone, we just had the “Mixtape Tour” with New Kids on the Block and Salt-N -Pepa (minus Pepa), while Rick Springfield and Men At Work will play later this summer.
So maybe you were dismissive when you heard that Debbie Gibson had planned a Houston stopover for her The body remembers round. “That girl who sang ‘Electric Youth?’ Is she still there?” You laughed while taking another Facebook personality quiz. “Is she still pertinent?”
It’s not for me to judge, but I would point out that her pop career in the late 80s was followed by a series of well-received theater roles, including Eponine in Wretched and Sandy in Fat, while releasing albums. His most recent, The body rememberscame out last year and provided both the inspiration and much of the material for last night’s House of Blues gig, which also showcased his skills as a stage performer
Gibson (and her former rival Tiffany) occupied a strange niche in pop music, situated between the libertine styles of Madonna and the clinically packaged sexuality of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Unlike those two, Gibson wrote most of his own material. She holds the Guinness World Record for the youngest woman to ever write, produce and perform a No. 1 single (“Foolish Beat”), and is still the youngest person to win the songwriter award. of the Year (in 1989, when she tied with Bruce Springsteen).
I don’t see many three-hour performances on Gibson’s resume, but still.
Thing is, few teenagers are going to credibly write a song with lyrics like “hit me baby one more time” or “you gotta rub me the right way”, but it’s certainly not out of the question. the possibility of someone writing something as serious as “Foolish Beat”. Gibson has always recorded and performed on her own terms, and last night’s show definitely had the stamp of an artist in control of her craft.
She was candid with her audience about distancing herself from the “nostalgia act” label, saying that “I love doing old hits in a new way”. This included a “Shake Your Love” and “Electric Youth” downbeat mixed in with Portugal. “Feel It Still” of the man. To the crowd’s credit, they were on board with the most experimentation while delivering appropriately Gen-X roars of approval after featuring “Foolish Beat” as the song that reached No. she was finishing high school.
As mentioned, the later Gibson (The body remembers) were featured prominently in the setlist, including “Girls Night Out” (mixed with “Only In My Dreams”), “Runway” and the title track, which is…no mincing words, a very good fucking song. Inflatable, uplifting and with a killer melody, it really resonated with the crowd.
I don’t know why I was surprised. Call it a side effect of early musical snob syndrome (a condition I luckily overcame in the early 80s), but Debbie Gibson wasn’t my jam in the late 80s. Which is too bad, because in writing and producing her own stuff, in many ways she embodied that indie ethos better than a lot of so-called punks at the time.
And whatever your thoughts on his music, his affection for his fans certainly seems genuine. It often felt like she spoke as much as Adele, but that was as much to thank her supporters for helping her through the past two years (health issues and the death of her mother) as it was to joke. with her band (bassist Kirk Powers has been with her since her first tour) and her “Bookend Baldies” dancers, Eddie Bennett and Buddy Casimano.
Indeed, as the night wore on, I really felt like I was aware of a more intimate reunion. Gibson pointed to a friend in the audience whose wedding she had recently attended and agreed to requests (“Staying Together” and “Shock Your Mama”). By the end of the night, she brought about two dozen people onto the stage to sing “We Could Be Together,” including a group of women she had repeatedly called out for their grotesque neon wardrobe.
Okay, maybe she didn’t use the word “grotesque.”
Gibson and I are about the same age, but I’m clearly more cynical than her, so whenever an artist invokes the idea that “music brings us together and keeps us together,” I get the hedgehog. But his relationship with his followers seems genuine.
And that is perhaps what sets it apart from the bare-bones money-grabbing efforts of its so-called contemporaries, the refusal to take the easy route contributing to its relatability. She’s both a seasoned performer and someone who can sell a line like, “I really needed you tonight.”
Personal bias: Until last night, I probably knew his work on SyFy better than his music.
The crowd: Walked out of here feeling good, they’re class of 89.
Heard in the crowd: “What happened to ‘Deborah?'”
Random notebook dump: “No one is fooled by your System of a Down t-shirt, Chief.”
LIST OF SETTINGS
I’m Still Up (Elton John cover)
A little bit closer
love don’t care
Shake your love
Electric Youth / Feel It Still (Portugal. Cover of The Man)
The body remembers
lost in your eyes
What are we going to do?
Stay Together (hearing request)
Shock Your Mama (audience request)
Only in my dreams / Girls night out
we could be together