It’s like the ’80s again, but with less hair


They have been examined in minute detail on VH1 Classic, spoofed in pop culture, and hailed as influences on a wide swath of the current generation of music-makers. Some even made it all the way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And like the ghouls from “Poltergeist II,” they’re back.

Of course, we speak of artists from the 1980s. While bands from the ’60s and ’70s still loom large on the touring landscape, this summer MTV-era acts are coming on as strong as Aqua Net at a Bon Jovi concert circa 1987.

Over a dozen shows, representing the full spectrum of ’80s music – from one-hit wonders to enduring superstars, synth popsters to college rockers – will touch down in area venues large and small.

“I was looking this weekend at the list [of summer concerts] and thinking, ‘What year is this?’ ” says Rick Krim with a laugh. As an executive vice president at VH1/VH1 Classic, Krim is the master programmer behind all those oft-repeated, weeklong ’80s nostalgia fests and series like “Bands Reunited.” “I can only imagine all the bad dancing that’s going to be happening at some of these shows.”

Some nights, like the “Regeneration Tour” with A Flock of Seagulls, ABC, and Naked Eyes among others at the Bank of America Pavilion, will showcase acts whose careers reached their commercial zeniths within the confines of the decade (whether they kept making records or not).

Artists like Madonna, R.E.M., and Bon Jovi who escaped the fate of all those “Frankie Says Relax” shirts are hitting the big venues (Tweeter Center, TD Banknorth Garden), as are reunited and scarce acts like New Kids on the Block and George Michael. Those who fall into that gray area of having been big or interesting enough in the ’80s to still command a cult audience include Duran Duran and the double bill of Tom Tom Club and Devo. (And that’s not even counting acts that had thriving careers in the ’70s but hit commercial pop peaks in the ’80s like Heart, Stevie Nicks, the Police, and John Mellencamp.)

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