The Motels/ Bow Wow Wow/ When In Rome II at the House of Blues Orlando on 1/25/20 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

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The 1980’s might be long gone, but there’s no doubt that the spirit of that decade lives on via the music it gave us, as well as both the bands – and fans – who continue to keep it alive. This was evident last Saturday night, January 25, when the House of Blues in Orlando hosted the Totally ’80s Live Tour, which featured a trio of acts who each made their own respective marks on the era at the time.

When In Rome II originally spawned from England in the late ’80s, and are best remembered for their 1988 synth pop hit “The Promise.” This version of the band (another version still occasionally performs, hence the “II” in this one’s name) is led by original keyboardist Michael Floreale, and has been going strong for over a decade now. The band recently added former Ultravox singer (and ex-Enuff Z’Nuff guitarist) Tony Fennall to their lineup. Rather than focus only on their older material, the group actually included a heavy mix of recent and semi-recent numbers in their set, including “Metropolis,” “Kings and Queens,” “Don’t Tell Me,” “All Stood Still,” and “Haunted” before of course closing things out with “The Promise.”

Shortly after their set, I briefly interviewed Floreale in the band’s backstage area, where he told me how “surprised” he was regarding the crowd reaction the band has been receiving when performing said newer tracks so far on this tour. Be on the lookout for the full interview to post shortly on all of Rewind It Magazine’s social media accounts, as well as YouTube. 

Another underrated band from the ’80s time frame, Bow Wow Wow, were next on the bill. Much like When In Rome II, the band is held together by one sole original member, bassist Leigh Gorman, yet are still as tight as ever. Energetic newcomer Kristen Dinsmore does a more than admirable job filing the shoes of beloved former front woman Annabella Lwin, and current guitarist Erik Ferentinos keeps the post-punk spark that influenced the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in the day alive and well. Fan favorites such as “Aphrodisiac,” “Do You Wanna Hold Me,” “Baby, Oh No,” and “Louis Quatorze” all made their way in the band’s set list before closing out strong with their rendition of “I Want Candy.”

And finally, The Motels took the stage to great applause. At 68, it’s no small feat for band leader Martha Davis to still perform as well as she does. Slightly reserved at first, things picked up quickly once she took off her hat and truly let her hair down (or in this case, up!). Classics both old and new graced their set, with “Suddenly Last Summer,” “Total Control,” “Careful,” “Cry Baby,” “Punchline,” and “Only the Lonely” being among the highlights.

Without a doubt everyone who was at the House of Blues in Orlando was taken on a trip down memory lane they won’t soon forget. Be sure to catch the tour when it comes to your town, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for our exclusive interview with When In Rome II keyboardist Michael Floreale!