Live: The Tubes

Shlock-rock brainiacs deliver brilliant ‘best of’ show.

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“We released our first album in 1975,” muses singer Fee Waybill, disguised as a twisted quizmaster. “I didn’t think we’d still be playing the same songs in 2015!”

The elongated lifespan of rock bands rarely raises an eyebrow these days. However, The Tubes’ 40th Anniversary tour – a nine-date UK jaunt featuring original members Waybill, guitarist Roger Steen, bassist Rick Anderson and drummer Prairie Prince – is a cause for celebration. During their late-70s heyday these San Franciscan satirists successfully combined the theatricality of glam and the anarchic spirit of punk. They should have been megastars but became cult heroes instead. Although no one appears to have told Waybill.

Emerging on stage for This Town like a sleaz(ier) Sinatra in a fedora, zoot suit and raincoat, he embarks on a series of frantic costume changes, modelling a strait jacket (Mr Hate), a prison uniform (No Way Out) and a gimp mask (Mondo Bondage), roared on by a diehard crowd.

If off-the-cuff rants about everything from smart cars to Game Of Thrones add spice to the slick performance – the band’s playing and Waybill’s singing voice are faultless throughout – the inevitable highlight comes with White Punks On Dope. Dressed in blond shock-wig, gold spandex and 10-inch heels, the 64-year-old Waybill downs a can of Red Stripe before declaring: ”I think I’m going to be sick” as he staggers off stage.

A master class in growing old disgracefully.

Classic Rock 215: Lives

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Paul Moody is a writer whose work has appeared in the Classic Rock, NME, Time Out, Uncut, Arena and the Guardian. He is the co-author of The Search for the Perfect Pub and The Rough Pub Guide.