ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Talent in Action

Greek Theatre, Los Angeles
Tickets: $13.50

HOW WOULD this Frankie Goes To Hollywood show differ from the ones the group performed the last time they came to Hollywood? The answer the British bad boys gave to an enthusiastic house here June 14 was that the show wouldnt be very different at all. It would simply be bigger and splashier and performed for 25,000 people over three nights, instead of 3,600.

The ZTT/Island act has the distinct, if unwelcome, honor of being the only band whose backlash preceded its buildup. Its all but impossible to find an American critic with anything good to say about the dance-rock fivesome — no matter how tight their musicianship nor how well received they are by the crowd. Theyre the new wave equivalent of Twisted Sister.

Fact is, the show was expertly staged, with an extravagant array of video screens, motorized lighting rigs and pyrotechnics. Hokey, yes; effective, yes. Lead singer Holly Johnson spent less time this go-‘round attempting to antagonize the fans, and more time attempting to please them.

The 90-minute set got off to a strong start with a cover of Edwin Starrs “War,” but stalled with the next three tunes: two lesser-known efforts from their album and one unheralded new number. By the time the band got to club favorites like “Pleasure Dome,” “Two Tribes” and “Relax,” however, momentum held sway. The groups Chuck Berry-esque reading of “Bang A Gong” would surely have pleased Marc Bolan better than the languid Power Station version.

Predisposition to Frankie could easily be seen in reactions to the bands expected encore of “Born To Run.” Johnson appeared in a flowing blond wig, bassist Mark OToole and vocalist Paul Rutherford wore black heavy metal shags, guitarist Brian Nash donned Sammy Hagar curls, and drummer Peter Gill hid under an oversized cowboy hat. The pro-Frankie faction found it light-hearted fun; the anti-Frankies thought it heresy. Either way, it was a pretty good cover.

Opening act Belouis Some is the best Bowie clone to come out of London in years — but thats a left-handed compliment at best. While the material is strong, bandleader Neville No-Last-Names exhortations to the crowd bordered on arrogance. “Does anyone here know how to clap?” isnt a line that endears a performer to his audience.

Cheekiness — and an offensively obvious Swatch sponsorship logo — aside, the Capitol artist led his seven-piece backing group through a pleasing 35-minute set.

By the finale of “Target Practise,” the ticket-holders had, indeed, learned how to clap.