80’s icon Debbie Gibson played the El Rey Theatre on Wednesday night. In 2019, Gibson was part of New Kids on the Block’s mixtape tour along with Tiffany, Naughty by Nature, and Salt-N-Pepa. Gibson also has an acting and broadway career appearing in 12 films and more than 20 TV shows/films. Gibson’s theater/ broadway career began with a debut in Les Miserables as Eponine in 1992 followed by the role of Sandy in Grease in the U.K. then Rizzo when she did the U.S. touring production. Gibson has also been Belle in Beauty and The Beast, the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Anna in The King and I.
Gibson released her first album in 10 years, The Body Remembers and she gave a Q&A and performance at the Grammy Museum last year for it. Gibson’s musical career kicked off in 1986 and the following year her debut album Out of the Blue which went 3x Platinum was released. That album contained two of her biggest hits which both hit number four and are always performed “Only in My Dreams,” which was second to last in the set, her first number one “Foolish Beat,” and “Shake Your Love,” which were both performed earlier in the show. Gibson went on to release her second album Electric Youth which hit number one and went 2x platinum. Electric Youth included her second number one “Lost in Your Eyes,” and another major hit which was the title track. Both were performed.
Gibson opened the show with “LuvU2Much” from her new album followed by Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” with two backup dancers sporting Elton style glasses. Before the fourth song “Foolish Beat” Gibson paid tribute to her mother Diane who passed away at the end of January. Diane had played a major part in Debbie’s career not only as her mother but manager as well. When Debbie was just 12 years old her mother sent out a cassette tape of her performing a song she wrote titled “I Come From America” to the New York based radio station WOR for a competition and won it this led to Diane getting a relative to sponsor a recording studio in their familie home’s garage. It was Diane that fought with the labels for Debbie to have creative control over her music. In 1986 Gibson signed with Atlantic records. Diane also mentored Gibson’s current manager Heather. To this day, Gibson continues to hold the record as the youngest female artist to have been the writer/performer/producer on a Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single, which she did at the age of 17 with “Foolish Beat.” Gibson credited her mother for helping pave the way for female artists today that started as teens like Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, and Lorde to have control over their work and image. Gibson also thanked her fans known as “Deb Heads” for their years of support.
Gibson gave a shout out to Cinderella drummer Fred Coury who was a producer and drummer on the new album and his wife Amy who she introduced and now they’ve been married for 17 years. Gibson also mentioned Perez Hilton in the audience. Gibson also brought out Jackie Romeo to sing, an artist she helped mentor and her manager’s only other client is Jackie. What’s on the setlist is never final at a Debbie Gibson show as she’ll take audience requests and switch out songs during the show. Gibson closed with “We Could be Together” from Electric Youth. Not only is Gibson a great singer, she is also a fantastic dancer and pianist.
Words and photos by Alex Kluft
- I’m Still Standing- Elton John
- One Step Closer
- Foolish Beat
- Love Don’t Care
- Shake Your Love
- Electric Youth/ Feel it still
- Me Not Loving You
- The Body Remembers
- Lost in Your Eyes
- What Are We Gonna Do?
- Out of the Blue
- Red Carpet Ready
- Only In My Dreams/ Girls Night Out
- We Could Be Together