This article was originally published in 24 January 2013 and can be found at topshelfmag.net.
Most people of a certain age will more likely than not have clutched Weezer to their bosom during their formative years. It’s hard not to see why Weezer’s songs appealed so much to the teenager of the 90s. Rivers Cuomo’s lyrics often paint characters desperate for love, attention or a naïve desire to return to simpler times. They were emo before the word was hijacked by eyeliner and long fringes.
Whilst Weezer were never really mainstream in the true sense of the word, their 20 year career has seen them go from playing in standing room only clubs to sold out arenas, such as their present Memories tour which sees the four man combo chugging across America. A tour which finally sees them touch down on Australian shores for the first time in 16 years.
Following a successful performance at Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl, the boys put on a special gig at the Palais Theatre in St Kilda. Whilst Wednesday’s audience basked in the aural splendour of Weezer’s Blue album, Weezer took Thursday’s audience by the hand for a jaunt through the grungier, darker tone of Pinkerton.
With support provided by Queensland rockers Ball Park Music and the psychedelic sounds of the Blue Mountains’ Cloud Control, there was a relaxed atmosphere to the beginning of the evening. Maybe it was the Palais’ padded seating that had everyone being laidback. Even when Rivers came out to do his own sound check, there was only a faint murmur of recognition in the crowd.
All that changed when the main act hit the stage. Kicking off the greatest hits half of their gig with, appropriately enough, Memories from 2010’s Hurley album. For the next hour Weezer regressed through their back catalogue to the 90s. With the obvious exceptions being Buddy Holly and Keep Fishin’, their choice of hits seemed personal. And so, they played The Angel and the One from 2008’s Weezer, rather than the more obvious Pork and Beans. So, a package that was less greatest hits and more an amble through the indie time corridor to our Pinkertondestination. Was this a missed opportunity? Not in the least. Weezer were warm and friendly throughout; the diminutive Rivers encouraging the crowd to cast off the chains of seating arrangements and just get up and dance. Taking time out between songs, he apologised profusely for the band’s long absence from Australia and promised that they won’t leave it so long next time. (We’ll see Rivers, we’ll see.)
Finishing with a drum solo that saw all four members take on Patrick Wilson’s drum kit, our boys from Los Angeles left the stage to make way for, of all things, a PowerPoint presentation by unofficial fifth band member, Karl Koch. There was an air of someone taking you through their holiday snaps as Karl brought out old flyers from gigs gone by, photos by Spike Jonze and even posters from Weezer’s last gig in Melbourne when they were supported by Australia’s favourite underdogs, The Fauves.
Come the second act, come the Pinkerton; ‘the most emo, indie album ever to be released on 24 September 1996’ as Rivers described it. Pinkerton has always been the grungier sibling to the Blue Album. With its references to Madame Butterfly and River’s thoughts on fame, it’s an introspective album and the boys did it justice on the night. Barely taking time to breathe, they stormed through the track list against the backdrop ofPinkerton’s snowy, Japanese themed cover sleeve. Whilst every song warranted a roar and at least a few whoops (Guilty!), it was El Scorcho that garnered the biggest response. It really shows the appeal of a band that a song originally derided by critics for uneven tempo could have such a place in their fans’ hearts. The album play through was rounded off with a beautiful rendition of Butterfly, which saw Rivers being left alone on stage in a single spotlight. The loneliness of Rivers emphasising the delicacy of the song’s subject matter.
Finishing off the night with an encore of Island in the Sun, Weezer left the stage to the strains of The Carpenters’We’ve Only Just Begun. And as Scott Shriner jumped into the crowd to shake hands with the masses, there was a slightly melancholy feeling of a friend leaving for another country for a few years. You want to wish them well, you just can’t help but wish they’d stay a bit longer. You don’t want to think it might not be till 2039 when you see them again.
We’re going to hold you to your promise, Rivers.
Put Me Back together
The Angel and The One
The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)
We Are All on Drugs
You Gave Your Love to me Softly
Tired of Sex
No Other One
Across the Sea
The Good Life
Falling for You
Island in the Sun