Seems like a higher and higher percentage of the concerts I see these days fall under the "Reunion Tour" heading. Over the last decade or so, I've witnessed the reformations of quite a few acts, highlighted by the E Streeters' impressive return in '99. That one was so brilliant that they've stayed mostly together (RIP Danny Federici) ever since. Others . . . well, not quite so brilliant, but in most cases they deliver.
The Bruce shows were big news and big events, as was The Who's 6th or 7th "Farewell Tour" that I saw in 1996, but little re-groupings like the Violent Femmes in 2007 have proven nearly as enjoyable. There have been bands off minor hiatuses like the Black Crowes coming back in '05, and bands back together after 20+ years like The Police in '07. There are the ones nearly nobody else here has heard of (New Potato Caboose and Indecision last year, The Connells in 2006), the ones only the alt-rock dweebs would appreciate (Camper van Beethoven in 2001, Pixies in 2004, Fishbone in 2005), and the ones that were so killer that I can't properly convey the coolness (The Pogues in '06, Random Idiots in '04). Man . . . it's rampant.
Oh, yeah, before all of this I saw The Monkees' reunion at Norfolk Scope in the mid-eighties. Peter Tork kicked ass.
Some folks have a differeing viewpoint than I on this stuff -- they see sad, aging, debatably washed-up musicians trying to cash in one last go-'round. Pathetic. While they'll touch on some truth in such an assessment, the world isn't so rich in top-tier rock and roll concerts that I'll discount Part Deux regroupings just because it's been a while.
So long as they aren't trying to carry on without integral members, I'm in. I'm looking at you, INXS, The Cars, Alice in Chains, and, as we covered extensively, The Beach Boys. You don't see incomplete, rather phony versions of The Beatles, The Clash, Queen, Nirvana, The Ramones, or The Jackson 5 touring these days, thank the Lord. Come on. The dudes are dead.
Among the inane conversations Rob and I have had after many a beverage, some time ago we threw out there a number of bands we'd like to see re-group for a tour. Since that time, a handful of them actually have. I'm still holding out for The Kinks, Talking Heads, Uncle Tupelo, The Replacements (minus dead Bob), The Jam, The Smiths, R.E.M. (playing old stuff with Bill Berry back), and even some lesser-knowns -- risking more mockery for rock snobbery again, but oh, well -- like Hoodoo Gurus, Squeeze, the English Beat, and Norfolk's own Waxing Poetics. Oh, and Wham! In some cases, it'll never ever happen, but further estranged bedfellows have gotten under the sheets in the last decade or so. (Note the absence of a potshot there directed at anyone from our sister blog.)
So go catch a newly re-formed older act sometime. Here and there I've been missing some highly publicized tours of KISS, the Sex Pistols, Jane's Addiction, Eagles, etc -- or in some cases, I wouldn't say I've been missing them, Bob. But by and large I've been sucked in like a tractor beam by bands I thought would never get back together.
Like Devo. Who are touring for the first time since 1990 or so, who played at the 9:30 Club in DC on Sunday & Monday night, and whom I saw Sunday.
Devo . . . best known for "Whip It," yellow rubber jumpsuits, and tripod hats. And geekiness galore. If you file acts like They Might Be Giants and Weezer under "geek rock," the genre is pretty much defined by Devo. In 1978, they were five pencil-necked inspirations for the Louis Skolnick character in Revenge of the Nerds. In 2009, they are five fiftysomething, pot-bellied, graying . . . inspirations for Louis Skolnick's dad.
Back then, they also made very good music, and they're still doing it. Sunday night was packed at the 9:30, as full as I've ever seen it. The place was filled with aging nerds in tripod hats, music snobs like myself, and lots of curious sorts. Great stuff.
Three things Devo did that are common downsides to the reunion tour: 1. They played the shortest set I've heard in quite some time. (A little less than an hour.) 2. They're playing the same thing night in and night out, with a few exceptions. 3. They are playing albums in their entirety, meaning other great hits are omitted.
You see, they are promoting the soon-to-be-released deluxe editions of their two biggest albums, so they play two shows in each town on the tour: the first show features their first album played start-to-finish with a 2-song encore, the second show does the same for the other one. I get it, these guys are old and not terribly athletic (see the video below for evidence), so they can't combo it. But after so long, "Whip It," "Freedom of Choice," "That's Good," and a few others should really be played every night. (Sunday night showcased their first album, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo.)
But even though a few points will be docked for these concert no-no's, it was still a highly worthy trip to the local music saloon. The energy was super-high, they sounded very good, and the old songs do hold up, despite being very much of that era.
Best songs: their cover of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Come Back Jonee," "Gut Feeling," "Gates of Steel," and especially the story of the boy with "one chromosome too man-y, "Mongoloid" . . . as seen below in a show a week or two ago.
...and now for something completely deranged. This is Neil Young's "Hey Hey, My My" as performed by Neil and Devo in a bizarre, post-apocalyptic 1982 film called Human Highway (featuring Neil Young, Devo, Dennis Hopper, and Dean Stockwell). Devo are wearing creepy-assed masks and doing weird stuff, per usual. How they crossed paths with Neil Young is anybody's guess, but supposedly this song's inspirations had a lot to do with Neil's shared vision of de-evolution (Devo for short), at least in rock & roll. Weird, wacky stuff.
Neil Young & Devo
Paul | MySpace Video