’80s Pop Heroes Still Going Strong

Slick, celebratory, and largely indifferent to the past, 1980s pop music was a triumph of the freaks and the futurists over older generations’ notions of “good music.” Most of the subversives who made it, though, are now passing through the exit door of middle age. Still, the mirage of eternal youth is never so lifelike as in the arena of pop: many ’80s heroes can still be found on the road. Madonna embodied the aspirational, hypersexual tenor of the times that made her a star. The cool reception to her latest album, MDNA, suggests that, at 54, she might benefit from giving up trying to act like singers half her age. But a legend is a legend, which is why she can confidently settle in for two nights at Rogers Arena (Sept. 29 and 30).

When the Red Hot Chili Peppers emerged from L.A. in 1983, wearing nothing but a tube sock per and playing a white fratboy notion of funk, few would have earmarked them for the long haul. Yet here they are, 10 albums deep and recent inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their shirtlessness is increasingly ill-advised, but last year’s I’m With You ensures their stadium-filling status for the moment (Rogers Arena, Nov. 17).

Since the break-up of new wave pioneers Talking Heads in 1991, founder and frontman David Byrne seems to have made it his mission to confound expectations. September sees the release of Love This Giant, a collaboration with a similarly uncompromising – although, at 30, markedly younger – artist, singer-songwriter St. Vincent. The pair bring their combined weirdness to the Centre for Performing Arts (Oct. 20).