Men Without Hats Make It Safe To Love 80s Dancing In Vancouver

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Men Without HatsMen Without Hats
The Venue
Vancovuer, BC
May 7, 2011

Photos By: Mhelanni Gorre

The pounding hail and endless rain made the majority of Saturday rather abysmal. I’m sure many music enthusiasts with tickets to see a show that night were second guessing whether or not they would brave the onslaught of mother nature. Luckily for us the clouds parted just enough to let those weekend plans go unspoiled and the masses spilled into downtown Vancouver. The Venue was particularly busy that evening as the groups of dedicated fans filled the concert space in anticipation. The source their excitement was the canadian new wave band Men Without Hats. For all of those die hard 80‘s music lovers out there, this was the show for you.

Largely known for their hit single "Safety Dance”, front man Ivan Doroschuk along with three new band members revisit the band’s back catalogue for their new tour. It was a rather mixed crowd at the Venue with groups of long time admires and relatively new fans gathered to hear the beats of a band without hats. The ambience was retro enough to fit the bill with flashing neon colored lights and 80’s inspired music played before the show. Yet the fans’ sheer excitement was dampened when technicians were forced to figure out some minor difficulties, which set the show back a half an hour. But after a couple of computer reboots, the equipment was ready to go and the cheers of the crowd invited Men Without Hats onto the stage.

Coming out making the intentional point to be ironic, Ivan dawned a cowboy hat, boots, and shades, presenting the bands more mature image. There is no room for the mike stand with the energetic performance Ivan delivers. He ditches it straight off the bat, dusts off his dancing boots and prepares the fans for the show to shift into full tilt. “Where Do The Boys Go” managed to get everyone’s excitement back as the synthesized keyboards spurred the vintage jump and fist pump out of the crowd. Ivan’s playful demeanor mixed with a harder edged attitude kept all eyes on him as he embraced the love the audience was giving him. Ivan even took a moment between songs to highlight late member Allan McCarthy and his involvement with band. He did this before continuing on with the concert showing this tour wasn’t just in remembrance of their past songs but the past band members as well.

“1, 2, 3, 4” is played and “Moonbeam’s” synthesized jives inspire everyone to feel “groovy”. After sending us on a “moonbeam of love” those who were sitting down had been coxed to participate in the surprisingly high energy show. “China” amped up the volume as Ivan belts “ Living in China!” aggressively towards the audience. The song threw the pop synthesized beats to the background which allowed the guitar and Ivan’s raspy vocals to resonate throughout the speakers. This was a very impressive display by Men Without Hats as they maintained their punk edge all the way through the performance.

Yet even after a stellar opening, the technical problems managed to sting the band once again. Because of this the new female vocalist and her keyboards were virtually left out of the mix for the majority of show. But as Ivan stated “Never rely on technology” and the band continued despite the technical problems.
However the songs played without her did not disappoint and by the time everyone’s favorite song was slated to play they were back to full power. Suitably “Safety Dance” was the final song preformed in their set that evening. We have all danced to this song at least once in our lives and the crowd was as pumped as ever to bust a move. Everyone felt it was safe to dance and let loose as the waves of ‘S” hand formations took over the sea of people. After this high energy performance Men Without Hats left the stage with the audience begging for more.

With the lyrics “you can dance if you want to” still resonating amongst the crowd, the empty stage was quickly filled as the band jumped right into the first encore, “SOS”. Although they performed two other encores the crowd’s chants for “Sideways” went unheard. Seeing the crowd’s exuberance I had hoped that Men Without Hats would have preformed their 91 hit, considering the concerts late start and continuous technical problems. Yet after delivering thirteen entertaining performances the crowd was satisfied when Ivan and his crew gave a humble thank you and exited stage.   

They may have taken some kicks during the show, yet Men Without Hats simply displayed the sheer enthusiasm to match their crowd. They kept everyone entertained from the beginning to the end making this far from a disappointing show. Those in attendance were happy to cut a rug to some of their favorite oldies and Men Without Hats were there to supply them with the music to do so. With the simple yet effective lighting and the old school music it was hard not to get caught up in the 80’s vibe, which honestly isn’t a bad thing from time to time.

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