Theatre, Musicals & Concerts – Views & Reviews
“We’re The B-52s” declared Fred Schneider, as if the sell-out crowd at IndigO2 didn’t know, but “a dance band from Athens, Georgia” seemed a simplification of this group’s long and diverse history – a more accurate description came later when he went on to say that they helped invent New Wave and before then when they formed in 1976 were into everything punk. Their punk roots possibly explains the choice of support act, British punk band and ‘sound of the suburbs’ The Members, who delivered a storming set to a pogo-ing crowd, many of whom were clearly fans of both bands despite their very different sounds.
Fred strutted stony-faced across the stage delivering occasional bleeps from his walkie-talkie with great seriousness in between Kate Pierson’s siren-like wails and Cindy Wilson’s bongos in opening number Planet Claire. It reads like the work of a novelty band, but it sounds far from it. The appearance of a children’s chunky xylophone generated huge cheers, as we knew this meant we were about to Dance This Mess Around.
There were some touching moments too – the rest of the band left the stage for Cindy to give her solo Girl From Ipanema Goes To Greenland, dedicated to her brother Ricky – founder member and guitarist with the band until his untimely demise in 1985.
Kate returned to the stage to join Cindy ‘down some dirty East London trails’ for Roam, one of their biggest hits from 1990, and for some gorgeous harmonies during Legal Tender from their 1983 album ‘Whammy’.
Returning ‘from the future’, Fred rejoined the group for Love In The Year 3000 from their most recent studio album, 2008’s Funplex (still inexplicably unreleased in the UK other than on iTunes) and a song brought back from one of their “many travels in outer space”, Is That You, Mo-Dean?.
The trio (Keith Strickland having recently announced that he no longer wishes to tour but is still a member of the group) were backed by an excellent band – Tracey Wormworth (bass), Sterling Campbell (drums), Paul Gordon (keyboards/guitar) and Nick Lesley (guitar).
Recalling their early fascination with punk, Cindy brought out her “Punk-a-lunk-a-licious!” bongos for classics 6060-842 and Whammy Kiss, still as fresh and rousing as they were thirty years ago, finishing with their biggest hit and crowd favourite Love Shack.
Returning for an encore of Party Out Of Bounds inspired by an etiquette book about dealing with gatecrashers, our party was suddenly invaded by a man in a foam lobster costume which could only mean one thing – pass the tanning butter and watch out for that piranha – Rock Lobster had finally arrived on “London beach”, with its infectious surf guitar riff and unique sound which, much like the band, refuses to get old.
A limited edition recording of the concert is available from Concert Live.