Review: Poptone reawakens Tones on Tail at The Regency Ballroom

Poptone, Tones on Tail, Love and Rockets, Bauhaus

Photos: Gary Chancer

SAN FRANCISCO — Bauhaus introduced what we now refer to as goth music. Its dark wave sound was glam, punk and dance. Bauhaus members Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins followed that band with Tones on Tail, a short-lived side project with Bauhaus roadie Glen Campling. Haskins and Ash next turned to alt-rock act Love and Rockets, with David J. Now, Haskins and Ash are back with Poptone, which includes Haskins’ daughter, bassist Diva Dompe. The trio, which is in the midst of a its first tour, played the final of three NorCal shows at the Regency Ballroom Wednesday.

The band came out to a black-lit stage with an intro filled with overpowering guitars. A full minute had to have gone by as anticipation kicked into overdrive. At that moment, it felt like we were sent back in time to a Bauhaus show. Ash looked as cool as ever. With a mohawk, he was dressed in white and wore white sunglasses. He glowed.

Poptone opened with “Heartbreak Hotel,” a cover that sounded nothing like Elvis Presley’s version. “This is the Pops,” from the Tones on Tail days, showed how tight Ash and Haskins are as a unit. Haskins’ drumming fueled the song as Ash took it up a notch on guitar.

The set, which consisted mostly of the duo’s prior bands’ songs, had some stand-out gems. Ash stirringly played the saxophone on “Movement of Fear” (by Tones on Tail). The song created a sense of longing, but at the same time could have scored a horror film. The chorus on “No Big Deal,” by Love and Rockets, amped up the crowd. Dompe played keyboard on the track.

It was easy to forget just how many amazing songs Ash and Haskins have in their arsenal. Ash showed off his guitar shredding on “Twist” (Tones on Tail). “There’s Only One” (Tones on Tail) had fans going wild. There were moments of reprieve during the song as Dompe came in on bass while she and the crowd screamed out the line “There’s only one.”

The show had two encores. The first one included a solid rendition of “Physical (You’re So)” from Adam and The Ants. A cover of Ash’s “Flame On,” which had some great solo drumming by Haskins. But the peak of the show was the song that put Tones on Tail on the map: “Go!” A black-clad crowd sang the song’s refrain in unison:  “Ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya/ Ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya/ Go/ Living it up.”

Nostalghia opened up the show with an enchanting, dreamy set. While Ciscandra Nostalghia played with a full band, the performance was really about her and her lush vocal prowess. She played beautiful down-tempo melodies and ethereal, soaring tunes, and gorgeous lullabies. The set was highlighted by a trip-hop, dreamy cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” Nostalgia’s vocals were haunting.

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