Sidney Myer Music Bowl, January 16, 2013
A lot of Weezer fans look like Hurley. That was the first thing I noticed as enjoyed the stroll through the Botanical Gardens towards the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. It was Weezer’s first night in town since 1996, and there were a lot of guys who looked like the photo from the cover of the band’s last album, along with people wearing Hurley surf and skate brand t-shirts. Sadly though, I didn’t see anyone wearing the ‘Weeze’ t-shirt from the Perfect Situation video. Had those been available at the merchandise stand, I would have left even happier than I did.
I’m not traditionally a fan of the Music Bowl, but tonight I was given a special treat, in the form of surprise, last minute tickets in the stalls, and it made me see the venue in a whole new light. Rather than spending the time before the headliner squeezing through the crowd in general admission to find an unobstructed line of sight to the stage to set the focus on my binoculars, I was able to relax in a comfortable chair with a drink whilst Cloud Control let their single Gold Canary intermingle with a rendition of the Butthole Surfers’ Pepper which came as a pleasant surprise and set the 1990s nostalgia scene in preparation for a rendition of Weezer’s self titled blue album. I felt like one of those people who vow to never fly ecconomy again after using their Frequent Flier points to upgrade to business class.
As soon as they’d finished, members of Weezer appeared without ceremony on stage to help Cloud Control move their gear away, and to set up their own instruments. It looked like a simple setup, the only obvious tech being in the form of the webcams attached to all of the instruments. The work done, there was time for Rivers Cuomo to kick a ball around on stage with Steve Horvat from Dust Devil Music.
As the sun went down and day turned to night above those poor souls with general admission lawn tickets, Weezer’s ‘W’ logo illuminated above the stage, and Rivers mounted a kit box to address the audience, and introduce us to the musical time machine that would be the first half of the evening, a greatest hits set running in reverse chronological order opened with Hurley‘s Memories. It was at the second song of the evening that the crowd started to really react, a surprise perhaps, as I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else who really liked Raditude, the album from which I Want You To was drawn.
Ensuring everyone on the lawn of a close up of the action, Rivers leaped from the stage during Troublemaker to run a lap of the entire venue, with the energy of arena divas like Pink or Gwen Stefani. Other highlights came as the time machine passed through the territory of the Make Believe and green self-titled albums, with Beverly Hills and Island In The Sun. It seemed a shame that it was a featured album show, because a longer hits set could have included songs sadly omited this evening, like Keep Fishin’ and I’m Your Daddy. Never the less, the hits set gave way to an interlude filled with a slide show of the bands career, with live narration including anecdotes from the long touring history.
In the past 18 months, I’ve seen Good Charlotte, Wheatus, Saves The Day and Dashboard Confessional all cover Weezer’s debut album to some degree, but as soon as the simultaneous jolt of beat, riff and vocal kicked off My Name Is Jonas, I could tell that original would be best. What followed was a flawless – if at times too stringent – rendition of a classic album. It was when the band deviated from the format of the album tracks that they were at their finest: an even more powerful arena-rock styled Say It Ain’t So, a key-laced Buddy Holly were highlights.
Hearing the first album, along with a sample of previous albums, live for the first time left the audience wanting more, and trying to calculate how many years it might be before Weezer are back in town to play their green album.