Words By Kix Suarez
Photos By Stephen Lavoie (http://www.irocktography.com/)
Last April 4, 2013, an intense Flashback Friday Party happened at the Solaire Resort and Casino’s Grand Ballroom. Together with DMC Philippines, Solaire threw an all out 80’s party featuring main act When In Rome. Neon leotards, mullets and fros, shoulder pads and spraynet were definitely back in style. British legendary new wave band behind the hit song: "The Promise", returned to Manila for an 80s throwback dance party.
When in Rome was a very important band in the new wave scene back then. When cars were still boxed and Member’s Only jackets defined mens fashion and style. The band and their music started when Michael Floreale and Andy O'Connell were recruited by Clive Farrington to replace departed members of his Manchester-based group Beau Leisure. It was then that Floreale and Farrington began to write songs together. Later, Farrington and Floreale linked up with Andrew Mann who’s a beat poet, and had him join their performances for more dynamics. O'Connell eventually left the group and the remaining trio recorded some demos – sometimes including Mann's friend Corinne Drewery – while seeking a recording deal.
Through hard work and perseverance, the group was fortunately signed by Virgin UK subsidiary 10 Records. Producers Ben Rogan (who had worked with Sade) and Richard James Burgess (who worked with New Edition) took special interest in the trio's definitive 80’s song "The Promise." The single that launched them in to stardom was first issued as a 12" dance disc. When the song reached massive popularity by hitting the top of Billboard's Dance Club Play chart, Virgin ordered an album.
A remixed version of "The Promise" was the first single from their self-titled debut album. It was an instant success, barely missing the Top Ten in the United States, peaking at No. 11.
Months later, the trio followed up The Promise and reached Billboard's pop charts with "Heaven Knows.” There were a few more singles that were released but did little on the charts. It was by this time that there was a falling out and and the group ultimately faded away. (Good thing for us, we get to still see them live and back together!)
Like all good streaks, there is an unfortunate end to it. In 1990, the band broke up over musical differences. Floreale moved to the United States, and now lives in Dallas, Texas, where he composes music for television and film.
It was in the year 2006, Floreale reformed When in Rome, with singer/songwriter John Ceravolo. Since then, the group has toured the United States and South America with various other 80's groups.
Fortunately for us Filipinos, When In Rome strayed a bit further than the usual touring itinerary and hit up Manila shores. The night was truly nostalgic for everyone at the show. Hits spanning the decade of the 80’s were played and danced to. The Grand Balloom instantly turned in to a disco. Seemingly, the 30 something yuppies seemed like they were back in high school. It was soiree season all over again. Couples took to the floor to dance and suddenly it all seemed like a scene straight out of a John Hughes movie. From breakfast Club to Pretty in Pink, it seemed like the Andy Walshes and Jon Cryers were out to dance the night away. It was such a great night of partying. Definitely, the crowd it drew can’t wait to see who’s coming next!
Special thanks to DMC Philippines