I first came across The B-52s almost 25 years ago on a popular chart show, uncannily called ‘the Chart Show’ as an impressionable 16 year old teenager just finding his way in the musical World. Pre-internet, the Chart Show was one of the few ways in which we could come across new and inspiring music videos and thus it was on a Saturday morning – armed with my dressing gown and cornflakes – that I came across a natty little ditty called ‘Love Shack’ which was unlike anything I’d ever hear. Immediately I was hooked by the 5 piece who hail from Athens Georgia.
When the opportunity to review them for Gig Junkies, some 37 years after they formed, I was all over it like a cheap dress!
On the way into the venue I noticed two things… Firstly it was £35 entrance fee – ouch! I immediately hoped therefore that it wouldn’t just be one of these “let’s make a quick buck going through the motions” type of gigs. Secondly, it was like a gig used to be – full of crusties wearing their favourite bands t-shirts. Splendid. Admittedly these crusties were a little older, balder and more decrepit (too much moshing in the late 80’s no doubt) but in the right light and squinting a little it was like being back at the Hummingbird in the early 90’s watching Neds, the Stuffies and the Poppies. Excellent!
Due to a curfew, the gig kicked off at 8pm, but this didn’t dampen the crowds spirits at all. Not one iota.
Musical proceedings kicked off with lead singer Schneider wangling about a walkie-talkie and red haired vocalist Kate Pierson cutting some pretty unusual shapes for the oh-so catchy ‘Planet Claire’.
Crazy dancing and I have to say, amazing 3 way harmonies ensued with riff laden, multi-layered pieces of musical brilliance like ‘Pump’ and the weirdly named yet enticingly catchy ‘Mesopopamia’. In a previous life Fred Schneider the lead singer was a poet, which is blatantly evident when you consider the construction of the songs and the vocal game of cat and mouse that goes on between the vocal trio.
Aside this great vocal jousting it was great to see the array of musical accompaniments the band used to enhance their already interesting sound. From walkie-talkies, children’s xylophones and some weird gadget which created unique sound of its own I’d never heard, they had the lot. This was a far cry from the band being ostentatious – everything they used seemed to really add to the song.
‘Roam’, the first of their big hits played to the audiences delight was simply amazing. Vocally beautiful and harmonically perfect by the two ladies, the crowd went ballistic. Rightly so!
Then came lots of songs about space and the future… including catchy numbers ‘Love in the Year 3000’ and ‘Cosmic Thing’ followed by arguably their most commercial and thus successful offering ‘Love Shack’ again much to the merriment of the appreciative crowd.
After a brief break, it was back on for their finale culminating in the excellently titled rifftastic ‘Rock Lobster’ and then that was it. Lights up, coats on and people making their way home at the sensible time of 9.30pm on a school night happy at the entertainment they’d just been privy to!