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That '80s show

We really did belong to a club. There were degrees of

membership, of course - hey, nice asymmetrical haircut! - but one thing was for

certain: if you were lucky enough to have lived through the new-wave music

invasion of the early 1980s, Long Island was the place to be.

Sure, KROQ-FM in Los Angeles played a mix of modern rock - still does - but

when Duran Duran hit the States for its inaugural club tour in 1981, the group

gave its first radio interview to our own WLIR/92.7 FM (you can't write a mash

note to new wave and not include the station that "dared to be different").

And the boys' debut U.S. performance? At Spit in Levittown. To quote the

Scottish band APB, 'LIR gave us something to believe in with the

synthesizer-driven pop the other commercial stations in New York never played.

New Order, Depeche Mode, Ultravox, Yaz and Blancmange were early staples.

There were fashion elements, which were apparent in the early MTV videos

(see Duran Duran, Adam Ant). "They didn't look like the guy next door," said

Jim Henke, vice president of exhibitions and curatorial affairs at the Rock and

Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland and a former writer and editor at

Rolling Stone magazine. "MTV really burned these groups into people's brains."

And for the most part, the music was happy and smart and insulated us with

an innocence during those Reagan years. Of course, you could also dance to it,

and there was no shortage of clubs on the Island that pumped new wave from its

sound systems - Malibu in Lido Beach, Heartbeat in Oyster Bay, Paris New York

in Huntington.

The sights and sounds of that era make a live reappearance Friday when the

Regeneration Tour plays Nikon at Jones Beach Theater. Yes, the Human League,

former Go-Go Belinda Carlisle, ABC, A Flock of Seagulls (that hair!) and Naked

Eyes will all

be on one stage. Ron Delsener never put on a show like this back in the

day. But lest you think enjoying these bands 25 years after their heyday is

somehow solidifying new wave as the next wave of nostalgia, there's more to it

than that.

"That sound is still so relevant," said Malibu Sue, a longtime WLIR disc

jockey who now works the day shift at WMJC/94.3 FM in Farmingdale. "It captured

sentiment and intelligence that other music did not. Somebody once said that

it's music for the thinking man."

The man who was thinking of the future and setting things in motion for

Long Island's new wave '80s was Denis McNamara, the program director who

started at WLIR in 1974 as a part-timer when it was still a progressive rock

station (trivia: 'LIR's other part-timer was Murray the K).

"It was the right time and right place," said McNamara, who now heads up

the entertainment division of vTuner, an Internet radio guidance developer with

offices in Manhattan and Northport. "There was a period in the '80s where the

entire music industry was looking upon 'LIR and that 'LIR marketplace of New

York and Long Island as one of the hippest music areas of the world. People

used to refer to it as the gateway to America if you were an upcoming artist."

Years later, bands who got their start on the little 3,000-watt class-A

station in Hempstead went on to seep into the popular consciousness. You may

have heard Devo's "Whip It" in a TV commercial for the ever-popular Swiffer

sweeper, or the lesser-known The The's 1983 gem "This Is the Day" for a recent

M&M's spot. It's the little things, but they add up to a feeling that, hey, our

music didn't just crawl away and die when hair metal sprayed it in the face

with Aqua Net in the late '80s.

Don't worry, though, we'll get the last laugh Friday.

"These sort of shows are really fun to do," Carlisle said. "It's like a

night of instant gratification for the audience. And for us, the performers, we

get to do a set of hits. And the audience doesn't have to sit through filler


Singer on the go-go

It's freezing in London a few weeks back. "How's the weather there?" Belinda

Carlisle asks. When told it's hot, she giggles in that way that she does, and

then remembers the Regeneration Tour will land at the Beach. "I love Jones

Beach, it is such a great venue," the former Go-Go purrs.

Although she's lived in France for the past 15 years - that would explain

"Voila" (Rykodisc), her 2007 album of French-sung tunes - she's in England

prepping for a tour of Japan. And before that the mother of one, who turns 50

on Sunday, was a judge on MTV's "Rock the Cradle" ... and perhaps just a little

too mean to Jesse Money and Jesse Blaze Snider. No matter, we're still mad

about her, in an '80s sort of way.

On "Rock the Cradle" you were kind of tough on some of the kids.

I think I was honest. I was doing my job. I wouldn't be doing any favors if I

wasn't honest. It was amazing to see people improve along the way.

How were you chosen for the show?

I went to Los Angeles to renew my driver's license, and while I was taking my

test, sitting next to Carol Burnett, I got a phone call to go over to the

Valley to meet with MTV because one of the judges for a new show had dropped

out. So I drove over, and I was hired.

So, you think your son, James, will be on "Rock the Cradle"?

I don't think so. He's in Washington, D.C., right now being a congressional

page. His interests are much more important than - well, no, I am not going to

say that, because music is important, too.

But I wouldn't really want him on there, and I don't think he'd want to be on

there, either.

You have plenty of solo material to play on the Regeneration Tour, but do you

think you'll also dip into any Go-Go's stuff? And speaking of the Go-Go's, is

anything on tap for a reunion?

I might do one or two Go-Go's songs, but it'll be pretty much my stuff.

As for a reunion, I can never say never, but I don't think there will ever

be another album. We might have a year or two left in us, but we'll see.

Everyone has other

things going on now. Three of us have kids ... it's just not that simple.

-Kevin Amorim

Party like it's 1983

Friday's Regeneration Tour concert will be Nikon at Jones Beach Theater's

official 25th anniversary celebration - for rock shows. Eric Clapton played the

venue's first rock concert in 1983. Concert promoter Live Nation will admit

for free the first 500 attendees dressed in Members Only jackets, leg warmers

and parachute pants (nothing really "new wave" about those fashions).

Some tickets are available at 1980s flashback pricing: $19.83.

Everyone in attendance Friday will receive a limited-edition poster celebrating

the venue's 25 years of performances.

-Kevin Amorim


The Regeneration Tour plays Nikon at Jones Beach Theater at 7 p.m. Friday.

Tickets are $19.83- $99 at Ticketmaster, 631-888- 9000,

NAME The Human League

HIT SONG "Don't You Want Me"

YEAR 1981

NAME A Flock of Seagulls

HIT SONG "I Ran (So Far Away)"

YEAR 1982

NAME Pete Byrne, from Naked Eyes

BIGGEST HIT "Always Something There to

Remind Me" (written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David)

YEAR 1983

NAME Martin Fry, from ABC

HIT SONG "Poison Arrow"

YEAR 1982

NAME Belinda Carlisle

HIT SONG "We Got the Beat," with the Go-Go's

YEAR 1982


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