1985 was the grand finale of the rock era, where the music’s cross-generational elite assembled for their curtain call at Live Aid.
Everyone alive on that hot July evening witnessed the event: those closing notes from the crowded stages of Wembley and JFK… the end of a 30-year era.
Taking things out with a bang were all the acts at the top of their game during 1985: ABC, The Cure, Dire Straits, Howard Jones, Kate Bush, Marillion, Midge Ure, Paul Young, Phil Collins, Prefab Sprout, Scritti Politti, Sting, The Style Council, Tears for Fears, Thompson Twins, Wham!
Bands riding this final wave embraced the moment with dignity, either rummaging the 20th century lexicon (Animal Nightlife, Big Sound Authority, The Colourfield, Simply Red, Working Week) or careening into a technological infinity (Belouis Some, Big Audio Dynamite, The Power Station, Stephen Duffy, Strawberry Switchblade). Others made best at carrying semi-traditional song craft (The Armoury Show, Fine Young Cannibals, Go West, The Outfield, Vitamin Z) and cultish sonics (Ausgang, Blue in Heaven, Dead Can Dance, Skeletal Family, The Snake Corps) to their natural conclusions.
Europe was not to be done, reeling in a mix that was edgy (CCCP Fedeli alla Linea, Litfiba, Neon) eclectic (Edhels, Foehn, Paga Group) and elegant (a-ha, Double, Propaganda).
North America basked in the pastel-neon glow of dry ice (Allies, Dokken, Fiona, Honeymoon Suite) and digital displays (Animotion, Baltimora, Drama, Ready for the World). Dance acts set their emotions to machinery (B-Side, The Family, Jesse Johnson, Loose Ends) while distaff performers turned humbler intentions into artistry (Jane Siberry, Suzanne Vega, ‘Til Tuesday, Wondeur Brass).
It’s sad to see an end to the greatest creative epoch in the history of man, but at least we have it archived for an eternity of replays.
There are murmurs yet to come but formally we are done.
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