Annabella Lwin has spent half her life fronting rock bands, and she's only just
"We'll just have to wait and see if that new wave sound stands up now," said
singer Lwin about her reunion tour with '80s pop act Bow Wow Wow, which kicks
off Friday night in Seattle.
The new wave flash-in-the-pan quartet that she fronted practically a lifetime
ago, best known for their sexually suggestive 1982 hit "I Want Candy," join a
raft of survivors who've come back for another go this year, among them Echo and
the Bunnymen and Duran Duran, who have launched several come back attempts since
"I think we're still relevant on a playing level and a musical level," said
Lwin, who will be joined by original bassist Leigh Gorman, new drummer Eshan
Khadaroo and new guitarist Dave Calhoun for the 13-date tour, with more dates to
be added later. "Our music's a lot rawer than what's out there now and bands are
getting back to that kind of music. It's ironic that dance music is big again
now, because it's just like it was 15 years ago when we started."
Bow Wow Wow was put together by former Sex Pistols manager/mastermind Malcolm
McLaren in 1980. Singer Lwin was discovered by McLaren singing in a dry cleaners in
Kilburn, London; she was 14 at the time. In 1981 the group had its debut album released, the tongue
twisting See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah! City All Over! Go
Ape Crazy!, quickly establishing a niche for themselves, not just because of
the then-underage Lwin's girlish sensuality, but also due to the group's
signature African-percussion, big-beat drum sound. Still, it was the semi-nude album cover art
of teenage Lwin that caused the English press to take notice.
The new lineup should have no problem conjuring the signature sound, Lwin said,
with 22-year-old drummer Khadaroo getting expert training from former drummer
Dave Barbarossa, who is currently a member of Republica. Former Vapours member
Calhoun, 28, will fill the guitar slot of original guitarist Matthew Ashman, who
died in 1995 from complications of diabetes.
The band broke up in 1984 after their final album, When the Going Gets Tough,
the Tough Get Going, failed to catch fire.
But the time may be ripe for a return of Bow Wow Wow, said Melanie Bardot, an
executive assistant with Machine Entertainment, the company that books Seattle's
500-capacity Ballard Firehouse, the first two stops on the tour. "Ballard
Firehouse books all kinds of retro bands," Bardot said. "Foghat played here last
week. We've had Quiet Riot, A Flock of Seagulls and Missing Persons play here.
There's been a lot of interest for Bow Wow Wow. We expect it to come close to
That sentiment was echoed by Patrick Kellum, 27, the webmaster for a Bow Wow Wow
fan page. "I found it a rather nice surprise," Kellum said about the reunion
tour. "I never really expected them to get back together, but I'm glad they're
doing it. I'm really hoping thay release a CD of live music from the tour. That
would be pure heaven!"
Kellum said that with the return of punk and pop, he thought the time was ripe
for the band -- who he discovered at age 11 -- to make their comeback, although
he wasn't even sure he'd be able to see their show. "I live in Yuba City,
Calif., a boring, do-nothing town," he lamented. "Hopefuly they will be playing
in the Sacramento area. If so, I will try my best to go see them. Anything
further away would be out of my cash range."
Although Bow Wow Wow were originally scheduled to get together to join a number
of other '80s new-wave brethren for a package tour that was to include Human
League, Howard Jones, the Fixx and Berlin, that plan fell through, leaving Lwin
and crew to take it alone.
"The people that like that kind of music don't get to hear it very often because
these bands aren't touring anymore," Bardot said. "So when they do come, people
like me who really get excited about '80s music, this is their lives."
When the '80s tour fell apart, Lwin, who said she spent much of the late '80s
searching for the right, complimentary musicians and a label that understood her
unique allure, said she figured "what the hell? ... I expect [the fans] to throw
loads of carnations on stage," she said, promising the band will play "exactly
how we did before."
"If you really want to know why we've come back," the singer said, "Ask
yourself 'what's missing out there?' "
Bow Wow Wow Tour Dates:
Dec. 19-20; Seattle, Wash.; Ballard Firehouse
Dec. 23; San Francisco, Calif.; Slim's
Dec. 27; Ventura, Calif.; Ventura Theater
Dec. 28; San Ramon, Calif.; Maestro's
Dec. 31; San Diego, Calif.; Brick By Brick
Jan. 1; Palm Springs, Calif.; Icehouse
Jan. 2; Santa Ana, Calif.; Galaxy Theater
Jan. 3; Los Angeles, Calif.; Billboard Live
Jan. 7-8; Boise, Idaho; (To Be Announced)
Jan. 10; Denver, Colo.; Bluebird Theater
[Thurs., Dec. 18, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]