IT'S GETTING MORE AND MORE difficult to look the '80s in the face these days, as the garish sight of propped-up corpses presented at many "reunion" tours can send a band's fans into an early mid-life funk. But the Go-Go's provided gentle respite from the depressing ravages of time, looking and sounding resplendently sassy at their tour kickoff show at the Pier.

The night was not without its annoyances, starting with lead vocalist Belinda Carlisle's embarrassing (perhaps contractually obligated?) diva entrance and ending with a second encore consisting of a punky version of Celine Dion's Titanic groaner "My Heart Will Go On," which illustrated once and for all why encores should be banned. But these were minor complaints for an evening that showcased girl rock in its increasingly rarest form: giggly, slumber party fun. Midway through the show Carlisle posed the question "Why are we back again?," then answered with a free-form ode to the "girls'" need for expensive plastic surgery set to the tune of "Cool Jerk." Earlier, Carlisle asked for a tambourine, only to be pelted with tampons by the audience; without a pause she snatched them up and divulged that drummer Gina was currently on the rag.

Guzzling red wine and beaming at each other in the soft evening light, the band looked as young as they did in their heyday -- especially the ever-impish Jane Wiedlin, who in black jeans and T-shirt was a ringer for a Murder City Devil. Kathy Valentine, with razor-cut hair and a stylish skirt and pants combo, never looked better.

All of the hits were played, including most of the band's classic debut, Beauty and the Beat. Standouts included an envy-inducing version of "This Town," the early Wiedlin composition, "Fun With Ropes," and ripping closing performances of "We Got the Beat" and "Our Lips Are Sealed." As a band, the Go-Go's have never sounded better, and their self-deprecating apologies for lack of practice were blissfully unnecessary. All in all, the holiday weekend event was a refreshing trip back to a time when girls just wanted to have fun, with no harsh realities or scorched memories to carry back home.

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