Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Fun, Foolish Beat of the '80s

By Lauren Beckham Falcone
Team Tiffany.
That’s the verdict from last night’s “Debbie Gibson & Tiffany: A Journey Through the ‘80s” concert at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly.
The Britney Spears/Christina Aguilera of the Regan Administration, Tiffany and Debbie had a bit of a Billboard rivalry going on back then. But now that they’re all grown up and no longer competing for the number one slot, it makes sense they joined forces in the name of nostalgia.
And it works.

If you were a kid coming of age in that totally awesome decade, Tiffany and Debbie need no explanation. For the rest of you, they were teen pop sensations of the Justin Bieber variety: filling malls and stadiums ‘round the world.
The raven-haired, trailer park-y Tiffany covered “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “I Saw (Him) Standing There” and sang the original “Could’ve Been”, a teenage torch song that that sent 13 year olds swooning.
The blonde, perky Gibson wrote, performed and produced her own pop hits, including the carbonated “Shake Your Love”, “Electric Youth” and “Out of the Blue”.
Her slow jams, “Foolish Beat” and “Lost in Your Eyes”, were the songs you slow danced to at your sophomore semi.
And let’s not forget the many lunch table conversations debating who was better.
Last night? Tiffany.
The two came out singing “Sisters are Doing It for Themselves”, an Aretha Franklin anthem from the decade that brought you shoulder pads and Reebok High Tops, followed by Toni Basil’s “Mickey”.
(Tiffany was clad in black leggings and an oversized top; Debbie in a red tube-top dress that was so short, you could almost see her Electric Youth.)
Debbie left the stage for Tiffany, who served as the opening act, and she killed it, belting out decades-old tunes - “I love Rock and Roll” and “Edge of 17” before belting out “Could’ve Been” - which got the somewhat meager crowd of 30- and 40-somethings - clad in everything from ripped Flashdance-style t-shirts to neon spandex - on their feet.
She also introduced a few of her new tracks - Tiffany’s gone country with her new LP “Rose Tattoo” - which were pretty decent. The 39-year-old has amazing range and a deep, riveting voice that proves she’s got chops.
Then there’s Gibson.
Debbie - who thankfully dropped the whole I-am-an-adult-and-must-be-called-Deborah thing - is less of a singer and more of a dancer/performer/songwriter. Still, she’s better at 40 than Britney was at 14.
But Gibson seemed to work more on her abs than her alto, proven by her barely-there half shirt and sequined hipster pants.
She sang a little “Billie Jean”, a little NKOTB, a little Janet Jackson and a lot of her own stuff. But all her jumping around and preening made for less of a concert and more of a Jane Fonda workout.
Still, she’s Debbie Gibson. She’s bubbly! She’s cute! She kind of has a lisp! And she wrote “Only in My Dreams” for crying out loud!
You can’t help but like her.
Tiffany and Gibson were the pop dreams of a decade and it’s no wonder their tour is gaining momentum. For a moment last night, a certain generation was free from debt ceilings and unemployment rates and health care costs and in junior high again, when their biggest worry was whether or not someone said hi to you in the hallway.
And that’s worth the price of admission - and those neon leggings.

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