Show Review: Book of Love at DNA Lounge, 10/9/2013

by Joel Edelman on October 17, 2013

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Book of Love topped my list of great synthpop acts that I would probably never get to see. (Yes, I really have such a list.) And when they played earlier this year for the first time since a one-off in 2009, I couldn’t help but wonder what might happen next.

“Next” was a show at Los Globos in Southern California last night. And tonight Book of Love graced San Francisco with its presence for the first time since 2001, providing 70 minutes of memories, plus one new song.

I was happy to hear one of my favorites, “Modigliani (Lost in Your Eyes),” early on, and Susan Ottaviano warmed up the crowd nicely. It was clear that the hundreds in attendance weren’t regretting the collective thousands being spent on babysitters that night.

“Alice Everyday” is an interesting song locally because when San Francisco Hot AC radio station Alice @ 97.3 debuted in 1995, that song was featured in the station’s sounders. It was also a single when “Candy Carol” released, so there were many reasons for the audience to be excited. Lauren Johnson really came alive during this song, going crazy during her recounting of all the female names, plus yelling “what’s her name?!” and receiving “ALICE!” in response from the crowd. Much better than hearing a carbon copy of the recorded version.

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Later, Ted Ottaviano (no relation) switched places on stage with Susan, and he gave an amazing rendition of “With a Little Love.” It brought a tear to my eye, and I wasn’t alone. An awesome tattooed guy with feather earrings was right there with me, wiping away. And although the audience was singing along with every song, it was the most apparent here. Before the second verse Ted said, “Come on—sing along with me,” but it was already happening anyway.

Susan mentioned that the band was going to perform the same cover as they did during the “Lullaby” tour in 1989, “S.O.S.,” by ABBA. She also lightheartedly implied that the band’s performance of the song was the inspiration for the Broadway show, “Mamma Mia,” and that they always come up with the good ideas first. The crowd was so into the performance that even a guy with a broken leg was pumping one of his crutches in the air during the chorus.

A loud reception erupted for “I Touch Roses,” during which all three members (Jade Lee isn’t touring but is still considered part of the band) handed out a few of the long-stemmed varieties to the audience, even tossing some up into the balcony. On closer inspection, the thorns had been removed. Safety first, especially considering Obamacare hasn’t taken full effect yet.

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After handing out all the roses, Susan talked about the Stud Bar, which is about two blocks away from the DNA Lounge. First, she said she could tell some stories, but then, after she paused and glanced at the guy with the feather earrings, she decided that he knew of some even better stories about the colorful establishment. It was a logical segue to then play “Boy.” The crowd went crazy and sang along so loudly that you could barely hear Susan.

After finishing with “Book of Love,” they came out for an encore, first to a sample of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” before playing the popular medley of “Tubular Bells/Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls.” They ended with a new song but didn’t provide the name. It reminded me of a lot of Siouxsie and the Banshees’s work on “the Rapture.”

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That there was a new song is promising, and in a recent interview, the band indicated that David Bowie releasing a new record was an inspiration to create more music. One can only hope a new album—and the requisite tour—will make 2014 a banner year for the babysitting industry.

Setlist:
Enchantra (Intro)
Modigliani (Lost in Your Eyes)
Still Angry
Happy Day
Alice Everyday
Lost Souls
It’s in Your Eyes
You Make Me Feel So Good
With a Little Love
S.O.S. (ABBA cover)
I Touch Roses
Boy
Book of Love

Encore:
Somewhere Over The Rainbow/Tubular Bells/Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls
new song (don’t know the name)

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