March 1, 2016 The Tubes Entertain The Showroom Talking Stick Resort Scottsdale, AZ 2-20-16
Coming together in 1972 following the relocation of two Phoenix, AZ bands to San Francisco, CA, The Tubes were born. Signing on with A&M records, in 1975 The Tubes brought their Pomp-Punk rocking to a larger audience with their self-titled debut. Highlighted by their first hit, “White Punks On Dope,” the track poked fun at the elitist, miserable, rich white kids of that era who lived in San Francisco. The Tubes were unique from other bands on the scene. With that said, who knew their sound would set the stage and go on to be the nefariously marauding tone of the band fronted by Fee Waybill for many years to come?
Trying on the mainstream suit during the ’80s, The Tubes soon found more success starting with 1981’s The Completion Backward Principle. Two years later, in support of Outside Inside, The Tubes would go on to open for David Bowie on his Serious Moonlight tour. However, changes were coming from The Tubes as Waybill decided it was his time to leave the band in 1986 to pursue other projects. Finding their way through it all, the band would reform come 1993 with Waybill back as the frontman, ushering in a new era of The Tubes that continues into 2016.
As decades of musical fads have come and gone, The Tubes are still currently on the road. Beginning their special 40th anniversary tour back in July of 2015, and released a new live album, Legends Live in Concert Vol. 30 back in October of 2015, the tour continues into 2016 with a variety of dates. On their current United States tour, band members Waybill, Roger Steen (guitar/vocals), Prairie Prince (drums/vocals), Rick Anderson (bass), and Dave Medd (vocals) visited The Showroom at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, AZ Saturday, February 20th. Greeted by a sold-out crowd, fans were excited to welcome The Tubes for a night that was bound to be an adventure.
The long line of concert goers patiently waited to be let into the The Showroom. Longtime fans could be heard chatting away about how many times they had seen The Tubes. In fact, parents brought their older children with them, so they too could experience that same sense of Pomp-Rock. The seats in the event room on both the balcony and lower level were completely full, and even the bar at the back was packed in snugly with both sitting as well as standing spectators. Soon, as the crowd settled in, the house lights went down, cheers began, and the evening’s performance began to take shape.
Starting off with excitement, The Tubes opened with “Up From The Deep,” a song that was first played back in 1974 at the Winterland performance, even before it had been recorded on their first album. “It’s really a fine day for a picnic I think… I hope my sandwich doesn’t blow away…” Steen spoke as Prince’s drumming brought the band’s collectivized musicianship forward to everything it is today. Then, at long last, Waybill, in his oversized trench coat and hat, took the shape of a Bogart player, and made his way onto the stage. Waybill sauntered ever so casually towards the middle of the platform, then turned to Prince, took a sip of his beverage, sat it down next to the cymbals and unconcernedly made his way to the microphone. Capturing the audience with his voice, he sang, “This Town,” “Town Without Pity,” “Power Tools,” and “Out of the Business,” all while he slowly, nonchalantly stripped off his trench coat. He also loosened his tie, and removed his dress shirt in the process, loosening up for plenty wild antics to come. Soon, all that was left were his prison clothes and the songs “Crime Medley” along with “Mr. Hate,” which overtook him as he had his way with the audience. Never leaving the shackles of wardrobe boredom aside, Waybill easily then went into the song “Amnesia” as many fans began singing along.
Proving they chose their setlist for this tour from many places along their music timeline, they played a few of their newer tracks such as “Life Is Pain,” but it seemed as if they sensed that their audiences really were here to listen to the ones they remembered mostly fondly. With that in mind, they played songs such as 1981’s “Amnesia,” “No Way Out,” as well as “Mondo Bondage,” just to name a few. They even mixed in 1985’s Love Bomb cut “Night People,” where Steen had a chance to take on lead vocals.
Moving right along, more classics from their past filled the performance with “What Do You Want from Life,” 1983’s “Tip of My Tongue,” and “Don’t Want To Wait Anymore,” a favorite choice as a wedding song, as one their fans responded with great enthusiasm. Music aside, whatever flamboyant outfit Waybill morphed into, it did not matter, it was all entertaining and fun. From straightjacket, wigs, masks, shoes, to whatever, The Tubes fans were given exactly what they had wanted; the crazy, insane beauty of this band’s artistic repertoire. They would close out the main portion of the set with their legendary “White Punks on Dope” before returning for an encore that sent the energy level of the audience through the roof. For the encore, they would mix in their big radio hit “She’s A Beauty” followed by their rendition of The Beatles “I Saw Her Standing There,” before ending the walk down memory lane with “I’ll Talk To You Later” flowing into The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Third Stone From the Sun.”
Well-known for their wildly creative performances, elaborate stage shows, and conceptual albums, Waybill’s irreverent sense of humoristic timing brings back that same charismatic brouhaha with him even four decades later. Attention is of utmost importance to all the band members and their performances exude their original character, however, not quite as pithy as it once may have been (chainsaws and fire-eaters et al). Nonetheless, their uniqueness to satirical impressions are still a part of their show. The Tubes are still just as uniquely entertaining today as they were all those years ago. On March 26th, The Tubes’ tour resumes at the Bears Den At Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel, Niagara Falls, NY, with dates ending in The States come late July before they venture over to the Netherlands and on to the United Kingdom through October of 2016, so get out and see one hell of a concert.