As Weezer’s trips to the UK are becoming increasingly rare – Rivers Cuomo’s geek-rock champions last visited our shores in 2011 – it would have been downright rude not to check out the LA quartet’s sold-out Brixton Academy show, one of just three European gigs currently scheduled in support of their recently released ‘White’ album. Here are six things we learned…
Weezer aren’t exactly drawing in new converts
The queue that stretches around three sides of Brixton Academy as Dinosaur Pile-Up complete their support set is overwhelmingly comprised of 30 and 40-something music fans, with scarcely a teenager to be seen. Rivers Cuomo might have inherited Kurt Cobain’s ‘King Of The Misfit Teens’ mantle, but clearly today’s socially-maladjusted adolescents are too busy with virtual reality porn or hacking into the military-industrial complex to be bothering with emotionally fragile songs of yearning, heartbreak and obsessional, unconditional and unrequited love. Their loss, frankly.
The ‘White’ album is very good indeed
To call Weezer’s latest self-titled album – following on from 1994’s Blue, 2001’s Green and 2008’s Red – a return to form would be an injustice to 2014’s fine Everything Will Be Alright In The End, but the quartet’s confidence in their new material is evidenced by the fact that no fewer than five new tracks are aired in tonight’s 21 song set-list. Of these, opener California Kids and forthcoming single King of the World are the cream of the crop, good enough to have taken slots on any of Weezer’s much-loved early albums. Their nerdy fan-base love to debate the exact order of the Californian band’s output in terms of excellence, but without getting into the minutiae of that, we’re going to suggest that White is their finest album since Maladroit.
Maladroit is now the red-headed stepchild of the Weezer back catalogue
Unless they are to perform six hour gigs featuring every song they’ve ever recorded, Weezer shows will always be judged as much upon what the band didn’t play as what they did. It’s a measure of the overall strength of their catalogue than songs as inspired as Tired Of Sex or Across The Sea or Only In Dreams or The Greatest Man That Ever Lived don’t make the cut tonight, but nothing at all from Maladroit? No Keep Fishin? No Dope Nose? No Take Control? And yet there’s space for The British Are Coming and Cleopatra? You utter bastards.
Brian Bell doesn’t get the credit he deserves
On the marvellous Back To The Shack, Rivers’ mea culpa for some of the godawful experimentation on the Raditude album, Weezer’s frontman concludes “maybe I should play the lead guitar and Pat should play the drums.” Where’s the love for long-term sidekick Brian Bell though? Tonight, dressed all in black and wielding a classic Gibson Explorer, Weezer’s guitarist not only looks cool-as-fuck but plays like a total bad-ass, finally getting his moment in the spotlight by taking sweet lead vocals on You Gave Your Love To Me Softly. Well played that man.
For a veteran band, Weezer have never sounded more contemporary
As they approach their 25th anniversary as a band, it’s noticeable that Weezer finally seem entirely comfortable in their own skin, but also sound entirely in sync with the current wave of trans-Atlantic pop-punk bands. While they might adhere to the deathless Weezer sound, the likes of Do You Wanna Get High? and Thank God For Girls don’t sound like the work of a band resting on its laurels, and there’s a winning energy and enthusiasm in Cuomo’s delivery that’s genuinely infectious and engaging. Few bands are in such good shape this deep into their career.
The Blue album can still make grown men (and women) melt
It’s perhaps hard for people who didn’t live through the ‘grunge’ years to understand just what an incandescent, irresistible, explosion of joy the Blue album appeared upon its release in 1994, and as much as My Name Is Jonas, Say It Ain’t So, Undone – The Sweater Song and inevitable set-closer Buddy Holly now appeal to winsome nostalgia, there’s an undeniable life-affirming thrill in hearing 5,000 voices belt their choruses to the Heavens. Unlike so many of their peers, Weezer aren’t a band that only make sense in the past tense, but disappearing down wormholes with them really does set the heart ablaze anew. Don’t leave it so long next time gents, eh?
Weezer’s new album is out now through Atlantic.