We’re being spoilt. Legendary San Francisco shock rockers The Tubes don’t play a gig in the UK for over 10 years and then we get two tours almost within the space of a year. If the Mondo Pulp tour lacks the sheer novelty of seeing them on their previous outing it is sufficiently different to draw back their adoring audience.
Tubes gigs are now a celebration of their heroes as much as their own heritage, so this time round we get a “soul medley” in the form of a James Brown tribute, a Chuck Berry song, a Marlon Brando-informed interlude for “Golden Boy” and a sheep shearing cowboy take on “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence”, originally sung by Gene Pitney.
Of course, we still get the brilliant set pieces – “Mr Hate”, the Quizmaster (“What Do You Want From Life”) and the inevitable Quay Lewd (“White Punks On Dope”) But throughout the gig the band impress, especially guitarist Roger Steen. His extended solo on ‘Love’s A Mystery’ was particularly tasty.
As ever Fee Waybill is the confrontational but genial M/C and a hilarious rant about the use of modern drugs to stem any number of ills led into a version of “Turn Me On” from one of their best albums ‘Remote Control’.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the setlist was the inclusion of ‘Stella’ from the usually neglected but nevertheless worthy ‘Love Bomb’ album. Perhaps some day they will include that album’s standout, ‘Feel It’?
To be honest, The Tubes for sheer energy and enjoyment would put many a “modern” band to shame and certainly their own contemporaries. A two hour plus show never seemed to drag and with the band’s musical interjections whilst Fee was off stage there was plenty to hold the attention.
Rallying with an encore of ‘She’s A Beauty’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and ‘Talk Ta Ya Later’ the psychedelic sounds of Hendrix’s ‘Third Stone From The Sun’ reminded us that here was a band born out of sixties hippie-dom and alternative theatre. Scaled down dramatically from their late-seventies heyday the band have lost none of their visual or musical impact. They only need now to record a brand new album and their recent “comeback” will be complete. Words David Randell GRTR