It is a packed house at the Birchmere music hall Wednesday night. Our performer of the evening is someone who helped defined the eighties. When it came to the sweet music of the late eighties, she helped made it memorable with such hits as Lost in Your Eyes, Foolish Beat and Out of the Blue. She is the one artist that I always wanted to see for a long time. Now that time has finally come as the sensational delightful Debbie Gibson brings her “The Body Remembers Tour” to the DMV!
The stage on the hot June night is dressed in red spotlight and setting in the middle upfront is an old-style chair. When the clock 7:46pm, the lights went dark, and an announcer’s voice gives the credentials to our entertainer of the evening proclaiming that she was “The Original Pop Princess” and Your Queen for the night! Truer words were never spoken as the amazing Debbie Gibson and her bandmates are all dressed and ready to party. Although there were some sound problems at the very beginning, Debbie got into the show by singing an impromptu song, managing it like the veteran pro she is.
She starts off the night with a single off her of tenth studio album “The Body Remembers” with LuvU2Much and her vocals were spot on. She proclaims after her first song that she is “with us for a long time” and truly delivers on that promise. Next was the first of two covers by fellow piano phenom, Elton John. Debbie took us back to the eighties with the classic “I’m Still Standing.” This is one of the numerous moments that you had to be there to see as the band was kicking it, the back-up vocalists killed it and the two male dancers dressed in silver suits & bug-eyed glasses made the segment very memorable to the crowd. Wrapping up the third song was another new hit, the first track off the album called “One Step Closer.” This was a HiNRG song with a great hook that will get you out on the dance floor in an instant. Debbie noted that “Three songs in and you are the most outrageous crowd.” If there is one thing you will know about the DC audience, we are smart and we love great music.
Debbie got intimate with the audience numerous times throughout the concert, warning us that we may hear some bad jokes throughout the night, and we do not mind it all. Before her concert, Debbie had spent a couple of days in Old Town Alexandria enjoying the sights and sounds of our fair city. Would you believe that this year marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of her debut on the world with her smash hit “Out of the Blue”? It was released on August 18, 1987. She mentioned that her mother, who she lost earlier this year, not only managed her career for twenty-five f those years but almost co-produced the album. This was a good segue to hearing one of my personal favorites of Ms. Gibson catalogue, “Foolish Beat.” Hearing the song live truly gives me the chills especially it took me back to time when I first heard it back in 1988. She called it “an unrequited love song back then.”
When it comes to Debbie performing live, she is endearing, funny and entertaining. She is the pop princess that today’s young stars need to take a page from. No matter if she performs at big outdoor venues or an intimate venue like the Birchmere, Gibson can still capture our hearts and our emotions! As the show pressed on, you are engaged in Debbie’s energy on stage, its contagious. She got the moves that mesmerized you and the energy that can light up the DC night sky.
She tells us that she likes to reimagine the old days like a teenager for the very people who came to the concert for the nostalgic feel. As she was telling us more stories, we hear a familiar melody being strummed on the guitar. Then she asked the important question of the night “Are you ready to shake it?” The audience responded with a resounding “Yes” as we got up and got down to the classic “Shake Your Love.” I must admit that I under the spell myself during the song. While she left for a costume change, the Bookend Baldies came out to teach us some of the lyrics to the next song on the set list “Runway.” Five minutes came up in a black leather body suit ready to own the runway. “Runway” delivers this killer bass, disco heat that is so hypnotic. Debbie came out to the audience to the center of the room singing to her to endearing fans.
The rest of the evening was just as fantastic as its beginning as she sings her heart out. Highlights included a mash-up of her classic hit “Electric Youth” and Portugal. The Man’s “Feel it Still,” hearing the title track of the album and the name of the tour “The Body Remembers” and jamming to Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock.” What blew my mind is on “Crocodile Rock,” Debbie did a little drum session towards the end. I was extremely impressed with her skills. She needs to incorporate this talent into future shows.
In addition to her classic hits, we got to hear more from “The Body Remembers” album including “Red Carpet Ready,” “Freedom” and “What Are We Gonna Do?” which the latter has some of the best percussion and a kicking bass lick that I heard in a song in a long time. You can by the vibe in the room that the audience was thrilled be there.
We even got word that one of the Bookend Baldies was heading back to the Great White Way to dance in Chicago and Debbie went straight into “And All That Jazz” from the famous musical. For the uber fans of Debbie, we got a special treat that night that took us back to Debbie’s life before the fame. I will not spoil it for the purpose of you have to see and hear it to believe. What sealed the deal for me as being an excellent concert was hearing my favorite songs including beautiful acoustically versions of “Lost in Your Eyes” and “Out of the Blue.” To hear it on a cassette as a young boy was one thing but hear her sing it live, I can finally say that her talent continues to exceed my expectations.
At the tail end of the concert, Debbie talks about family & friends and moments like what we are experiencing. In fact, she states that she had turned down gigs on NYE2022 to Facetime her mom, not knowing her last. Her bandmates brought out a gift that her sister had given her from her mom – her mom’s coat and the final song was a great tribute to her mom and to set the concert to a close. “Cheers” is a beautiful song that has those remembrance feels of missing loved ones. The lyrics tugs at the heartstrings and will not let go ‘til the final note.
After the show, some of the fans got to meet their pop princess, myself included. Cheers to an exciting time as this was the concert the Birchmere Remembers
The Body Remembers Tour continues through Dallas & Houston before wrapping up in California in Sacramento, L.A., Big Bear Lake, Orange County and San Diego
FINAL GRADE: A++
The Body Remembers Tour continues through Dallas & Houston before wrapping up in California in Sacramento, L.A., Big Bear Lake, Orange County and San Diego. For more information: go to https://debbiegibsonofficial.com/