After Drew Barrymore’s hilarious and touching Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction speech for the Go-Go’s, the band kept the excitement high at the ceremony with an exuberant, three-song set of some of their greatest hits.
The entire band’s excitement about finally making it into the institution, after years of being overlooked, came through in their amped-up performance. They kicked off the set with a harmony-heavy version of 1982’s “Vacation,” setting the tone: punkish energy, impeccable songcraft, and classic rock & roll style.
Vocalist Belinda Carlisle, who wore a shirt with multicolored gemstones and a silvery skirt, tapped into the song’s carefree vibe. Fittingly, when she sang the line, “Still haven’t gotten over you yet,” her tone turned the lyric into an “oh-well” moment rather than one with pangs of longing. For good measure, drummer Gina Schock threw in some heavy fills at the end of the song, a nod to her love of greats such as John Bonham.
“Our Lips Are Sealed” came next, with an extended intro that gave Carlisle the chance to encourage the crowd to clap along. Kathy Valentine — sporting a shimmery silver bass and a sparkling matching strap — was particularly prominent in this song, her muscular and intricate playing a solid anchor. Guitarist-vocalist Jane Wiedlin, who cut her hair into close-cropped purple spikes and wore a jacket with pointed shoulders, added an oomph-filled “Yeah!” at the end of her iconic “hush, my darling” bridge in the song. By the song’s end, Carlisle had grabbed a tambourine and was shimmying along with the tune.
Naturally, “We Got the Beat” concluded the night. Thanks to Schock and Valentine’s supple rhythms, the version was more aggressively surf-punk than on record; Carlisle even pretended she was snorkeling underwater. In another great nod, the song featured guitarists Charlotte Caffey and Wiedlin doing their best “rock star” poses in a duel. This song especially underscored what a great band the Go-Go’s are: Every musician’s part had its prominent place, but these parts fit together in such a way that the live song is loose, freewheeling, and irresistible.
It’s a vast understatement to say this performance was a long time coming. The Go-Go’s weren’t nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame until this year — despite being eligible since 2006 — and were vocal over the years about being left out.
“We knew that, for whatever reason, we weren’t one of the popular kids in class when it came to this whole Rock & Roll Hall of Fame thing, for a long time,” Wiedlin told Rolling Stone in May. “And so I just didn’t think about it ever. I was like, ‘For whatever reason, they just don’t like us and they never will.’ And then everything shifted and there became this possibility that it might happen.”
Wiedlin credited the critically acclaimed 2020 documentary on the band, The Go-Go’s, for part of this shift, as did Schock. “Our story had gotten overshadowed by, ‘Oh, they were crazy. They were wild. They got high. They broke up.’ So what? All bands do that stuff,” she said. “Our story, our real story, our songs, our success, our material, coming from the punk scene in L.A., that was kind of obscured by the other stuff … By Behind the Music kind of crap. And it did create such a great awareness of the band at this time. It all worked perfectly.”
Needless to say, every member of the band is thrilled with the Go-Go’s induction. “I have to say how quickly hope and anticipation can turn into elation,” Valentine told Rolling Stone in May. “It’s pretty amazing.” Added Caffey: “We feel honored. It’s just very special. It feels like we’re in the right place, like we belong here. That feels really, really good.”