Posted by: fireweaver | April 27, 2008

B52s at 930

i’m currently experiencing a surge in the background level of my tinnitus because i forgot to bring my ear plugs with me tonight. brilliant things, ear plugs, that let you hear what’s actually going on in the lighter aspects like the vocal parts that usually get crushed by the drums & bass. i have a stash i keep in a kitchen drawer, some brightly-colored disposable foam ones that were obtained from work (kennels are notoriously loud), but just didn’t remember them until i was halfway down the road. and so, since the place was really jumping, my ears are ringing louder than usual.

a couple of days ago, Bruce called me and said that he had a pair of spare tickets to saturday night’s B52s show at the 9:30, would i like them? i’d just been lamenting to a mutual bud earlier in the week that i hadn’t been to a show downtown with my drinkin’ & rockin’ buddy in a while, and i really like these guys, so *shazam* that was easy. parking is always pretty obnoxious down there, and Bruce was unsuccessful in unloading his single ticket at the door, but otherwise things worked out great.

i saw the B52s way back in the day, summer of ’98 or so, when they were promoting their newly-released greatest hits album. they were the closers on an “80s tour” bill, following the psychedelic furs (horrible) and the go-gos (ok), and blew all their tourmates out of the water. these guys were amazing live, and basically played the whole cd – a nice long set of everyone’s faves. totally unexpectedly for a band known for their “party music,” these guys were utter professionals: tight together, dead on with the tricky harmonies, but having a blast with it all (or at least faking it convincingly). i’ve seen plenty of bands that sound nowhere near as good live without their producer’s interventions, and i’ve heard that dave matthews in particular is so much better live as to not be the same group as on their cds, but the B52s were handing us exactly what we’d get out of our stereos at home. they’re really that solid.

tonight, though, they were mixing it up a bit. they’ve just released a cd of new material, and the title track in particular is getting a lot of airplay on a couple of xm stations. the show was about 40/60 of new to old material, managing to keep the energy up even when the song wasn’t a crowd-wide sing-along. some of that old stuff, though, they’ve been playing for approximately as long as i’ve been on the planet (!), so there were a few surprises. ‘mesopotamia’, my super fave song of theirs, got kicked up about 3 notches, and ended up even more punchy and dancy than it had been. a close approximation:

conversely, the obligatory ‘love shack’ was relaxed and comfortable, like a well-worn pair of jeans. it had become a somewhat more laid-back, honky-tonk southern-flavored rock version of itself. both renditions worked with those songs, fresh but not gimmicky.  while kate & cindy aren’t sporting their beehives anymore, they’re still working those bizarre harmonies just fine.  definitely check them out if they’re in your general vicinity.

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