The cold weather rolled in downtown Minneapolis with a chilly temperature that would undoubtedly keep any warm-blooded Minnesotan in their homes. But tonight, at the historic Pantages Theatre in downtown Minneapolis, a full house dared the frigidness to watch their favorite 80’s band The Fixx with guests Fastball.
As I exited my warm and toasty car, the cold hit me almost taking my breath away. I gathered my equipment and scampered down the sidewalk pronto, relieved I found parking close to the venue. Outside the theatre, a large sign flashed Pantages over and over in red and yellow neon lights. Patrons stood in their winter coats waiting for security checks. Masks were required for everyone attending as well as staff. Once in the venue, a line formed at the middle counter which was alcoholic beverages and theatre snacks. I thought it an odd combination to serve alcohol and theatre candy. But to each their own I guess. A stack of caramel popcorn, roasted peanuts, bags of pretzels, boxes of M&Ms, and other candy surrounded the rectangular counter similar to sandbags surrounding a trench.
The lobby began to get crowded, so I proceeded into the theatre. The auditorium’s architecture was stunning! I can see why many bands and comedians play here. With a max capacity of 1,014, the floor sloped toward the stage. The auditorium felt not big, but also not small. The original building was a Beaux-Arts-style twelve-story complex. It has changed hands several times since being built-in 1916 by Alexander Pantages and was the 26th theatre opened in a total of 500 Pantages Theatres. The architecture which draws upon the principles of French neoclassicism, but also incorporates Gothic and Renaissance elements, included decorative plasterwork and character, a stained-glass dome, as well as a false skylight in the center of the auditorium ceiling.
I waited for Fastball to take the stage. I looked around and felt like I was at a class reunion. It seemed as if many patrons knew each other and that about 90% of the attendees were my age. The lights went down, and the crowd began to clap and whoop with excitement. I expected a band to appear, but Fastball tonight only included members Tony Scalzo and Miles Zuniga performing an acoustic set. I was not sure how this was going to play out, but I was honestly surprised at how well both performed. It took me a few songs in to actually remember who the band was, but it soon clicked when they sang their most popular songs.
Scalzo and Zuniga worked well together and harmonized beautifully. They had this uncanny relationship with their audience. There was storytelling about their lives and careers and jokes here and there. There was no short of love as they performed an impressive set including favorites “Out of My Head” and “The Way” from the 1998 album All the Pain Money Can Buy as well as “The Help Machine” from the 2019 album The Help Machine. The audience interacted with Scalzo and Zuniga singing the chorus. One, two, three, four, five filled the auditorium in unison. A smile crept across my face as I watched people in the audience singing and swaying back and forth. Eyes lit up like twinkling stars as they smiled under each mask. Scalzo and Zuniga cracked jokes with the audience and the audience gave it right back to them. The set was a cross between a concert, a comic show, and storytelling. The set closed out with “All I was Looking for Was You” and both received a standing ovation.
Tony Scalzo: lead vocals, guitar
Miles Zuniga: lead vocals, guitar
1.) Behind The Sun
2.) You’re an Ocean
4.) I Will Never Let You Down
5.) Soul Radio
6.) Out of My Head
8.) The Help Machine
9.) The Way
10.) All I was Looking for Was You
After a short intermission and equipment changeover, the lights dimmed for the second time and the audience let out squeals of delight. The keyboard player Rupert Greenall is the first band member to step out on stage. His massive keyboard contraption is impressive, to say the least. It looked as if he had an entire recording studio surrounding him. He begins playing the keyboards as an intro for the band. The rest of the band follows in, and the crowd goes wild. They open the set with “Touch”. I must admit I was super excited for this moment as I have always been a fan of The Fixx. Let’s face it, all of us in the ’80s had them on our Walkman and sang to their songs while this English rock band videos rotated on MTV. Songs like “One Thing Leads to Another” and “Saved by Zero” were an anthem to our youth. The band was formed in London England in 1979. Through the years, they have charted to the US Top 20 Billboard Hot 100 and were featured on the soundtrack of the 1984 film Streets of Fire. The band was originally started by college friends Cy Curnin and Adam Woods. Originally called the Portraits. They eventually placed a newspaper ad for new members and recruited Greenall on keys and original members Tony McGrail and bassist Russell Mckenzie. Eventually, Mckenzie was replaced by Charlie Barrett, who was replaced in 1980 by current member West-Oram. The band’s first spelled their name The Fix, however, their record company worried about the name’s implication of potential drug use and they eventually came to an agreement to change it to The Fixx.
Lead singer Cy Curnin did not disappoint with his poetic, melodramatic, and theatrical personality. Dressed in black slacks, a white button-down shirt, and a navy-blue vest, he belted out tunes that simulated all their songs from the 80s. I genuinely can say he has not lost his technique vocally or his capability to perform on stage. The clothing attire seemed to be a hint of the personality of each member. Greenall wore all white with a black fedora and shoes. I was fascinated by his vocal throat sounds during certain songs. It reminded me of the indigenous arctic Kataqjjaq Throat singers as he filled in the background noise. Lead guitarist Jamie West-Oram outfitted in a purple plaid suit, shirt, and suede shoes. Though there was a small clash in color with the Sherwood green finished Fender, it did not keep West-Oram from banging out a mashup of familiar and feverish riffs. The gifted and versatile Bassist Dan K Brown reminded me of a proper English gentleman. Decked in one of his many recognized derby hats, checkered suit jacket, grey slacks, and brown shoes that matched his Steinberger fretless Bass. He stood to the right of the drum kit and performed with an impeccable calming technique. I discovered Brown played in a progressive free jazz-rock band called The Stinky Winkles before joining The Fixx. I honestly don’t have a comeback for that one. Furthermore, hiding behind the massive drum kit and Suhr speaker cabinet remains the elusive drummer Adam Woods. Dressed in a purple pullover shirt and probably a pair of pants. Merely being able to see his head over the drum riser, Woods proceeded to push out funky melodic groovy beats during the evening.
Everyone in the theatre was fully invested in the show. Heads bob to the music and before you realize it, you are singing to the top of your lungs during the chorus. The audience’s participation was in perfect harmony. Fans, like myself, have continued to follow the band after forty years. They have had a lot to say over the years through their music. And it seems like they will not stop anytime soon and I am thrilled they plan on continuing making new music. The show ended with “Red Skies”. The bands thanks the audience and walks off the stage. The audience begins to chant their name over and over until they return to the stage. A frenzied explosion of claps fills the auditorium as the band returns. They finish the show with a three-song encore with “Saved by Zero”, “Wake Up” and “Secret Separation”. What an impressive set! By the standing applause, screams, and whistles, I believe everyone else in attendance agreed.
On my way out of the auditorium, I spoke with two concertgoers Anna and Dave to get their perspective on the show. Anna stated, ” I have been a long-time fan of the band since the early 1980s. For a long as I can remember I have always loved them”. She indicated that her all-time favorite band member is Cy. I asked her what songs take her back to her youth? She revealed, “So many of the songs do. Red Skies, We Are So, Deeper and Deeper, and Stand or Fall takes me back to my teens. I have seen the band previously, and I keep coming back because they are excellent!” Both she and her husband Dave are already looking forward to the next show.
I turned my attention to Dave who was on a concert high. I asked him what he thought of the show. “First I am surprised by becoming a Fixx fan”, he laughed. “Even though I am a major metal guy, I have truly become a huge fan of this band”. “I follow heavier artists such as Metallica, Motley Crue, and other heavier bands.” He explained that this was out of his element for a band. I asked how he came to be a fan of the band. Dave recalled, “My wife introduced me to the band on her 50th birthday. I wanted to get her something special and they were sold out of tickets at the show at Fine Line in downtown Minneapolis. I kept calling and calling to get tickets and could never get any. I found someone who had tickets and asked how many I needed. Unfortunately, two weeks later the person did not have the tickets anymore and I was devastated because I wanted to do this for her birthday. I kept calling Fine Line and at the last minute, miraculously was able to get two tickets!” He revealed that when he took her to the concert and was hooked from the beginning. ” I am a tone guy, a guitar guy”, he explained. “I was so impressed by Jamie’s playing and his Strat tone”. They were able to meet the band that and when he got home, he could not stop listening to them. “I feel the band is underrated and to this day the music for our youth is lacking. The music by The Fixx is certainly music that grows those raised in the 1980s and is passed on to their kids and grandchildren”. As a child of the 80s, I can certainly agree with that analogy. My children, nieces, and nephews have acquired that same taste in music as both my sisters and I have always loved.
For fans like Anna and Dave and many others, they will continue to keep coming back time and time again. Supporting these timeless bands not only because of the music they love, but because it holds so many memories from a time that seems like only yesterday. There’s no denying true talent compels us to continue listening and watching and reflecting on what it means to us.
The Fixx is:
Cy Curnin – lead vocals
Adam Woods – drums, percussion
Rupert Greenall – keyboards, backing vocals
Jamie West-Oram – lead guitar, backing vocals
Dan K. Brown – bass, backing vocals
2.) How Much is Enough?
3.) Cause to Be Alarmed
4.) Chase the Fire
5.) Are We Ourselves?
6.) Built for the Future
7.) What God?
8.) Beautiful Friction
10.) Deeper and Deeper
12.) One Thing Leads to Another
13.) Stand or Fall
14.) Driven Out
15.) Red Skies
16.) Saved by Zero
17.) Wake Up
18.) Secret Separation
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As a Minneapolis-based professional freelance photographer and photojournalist, I feel I have a passion for sharing new perspectives of the world. Since picking up my first DSLR camera, I have been hooked ever since. Striving to capture the rawest forms of emotion through my photos, I am determined to make the viewer feel as if they were there too. Whether I am photographing landscapes, families, children, events, or concerts, I feel I have a way of capturing the true essence of the moment and finding the extraordinary in an ordinary place.
I am always looking for a creative outlet through my art, I find myself drawn to concerts as a rock music lover. You will find me right up front in the pit with everyone else. I have documented tours with some of the biggest artists in rock history including George Lynch, Judas Priest, Billy Idol, Slaughter, Vince Neil, Rick Springfield, and many more. I continue to push boundaries with my work and strive to capture some of the most iconic moments that represent the vibe of the artists and crowd as well as the atmosphere of the overall event. I am a contributor for All Music Magazine and a published photographer including features in Guitar Magazine and a feature cover photo on George Lynch’s 2021 solo album. Some of my clients include Morley Pedals, Rat Pak Records, Two Notes Audio, and many more.
“I capture emotions, not images.”