Weezer – Manchester Apollo Theatre

By paul

It’s been six long years since Weezer last graced Manchester. To be honest it seems like a hell of a lot longer. Of course attempts were made last year to make the journey across the pond, and the foursome even made it to London for a trio of sell-out shows during the back-end of 2001. But after September 11 and some record company jiggery-pokery, two further tours were controversially axed and it seemed like Rivers and the boys would never come back.

Then, out of the blue, rescheduled dates were announced and through a sheer miracle, two tickets for the Apollo gig were purchased, despite the ‘sold-out’ signs being flashed before my eyes at many internet ticket outlets. To say interest in this band has picked up since last years stonking ‘Green Album’ would be an understatement. The Kings of geek-rock, Weezer went quiet on us for far too long, then exploded back onto the scene with the brilliant ‘Hash Pipe’ and ‘Island In The Sun’ singles. They even played Top Of The Pops…

So to say I was looking forward to my first ever Weezer gig would be slightly underplaying things. And even the prospect of a 20-minute queue up to get in to the Apollo didn’t quash my excitement. This was going to be a rocking gig. Still, as always, the support band gets its five minutes of fame, and in this case it was Remy Zero, those alterna-indie rockers famed for doing the Smallville theme. (Yeah, the one with the luscious Lana Lane…) Anyway on they trotted, mumbled something about being ill, played a song which sounded ok, played 10 seconds of another, stopped, started a different song, the singer walked off, the band jammed for another 3 or 4 minutes, then put down their instruments and that was it. To quote a very good Weezer track, ‘Why Bother?’

Anyway, back to who we all came to see – Weezer. With two members of the Punktastic posse having already filled me in with what to expect, my apetite was whet and I was ready to go. And as they kicked off with new single ‘Dope Nose’, you could sense you were watching something rather special. Rivers Cuomo is an oddball, there’s no doubt about that, but he is so engaging. He doesn’t say too much during the set, rather mumbling between songs or branding the crowd ‘freaks’ for going through seven shades of mental during the quicker songs. But he is an absolute genius. To be honest, all four members of Weezer rock; tonight Weezer are tighter than…err, well a tight thing.

And it’s not until you see this band live that you realise just how many hit songs they have. Have they ever done a bad song? I can’t think of one. Old ‘uns and newies alike are bashed out with fervour, with ‘Photograph’ and ‘My Name Is Jonas’ being greeted like old friends by the capacity crowd. Even the songs taken from ‘Maladroit’ sound brilliant, with ‘Superstar’ and ‘Southern Dukes’ almost metal-esque in stature, whilst ‘Burndt Jamb’ has the kind of riff you swear you’ve heard before, until you realise that it’s just so damn catchy and so damn good.

And it’s testament to the band that they can mix slow and fast and new and old with ease, intricately crooning their way through the anthemic ‘Island In The Sun’ before the scuzzed up ‘Tired Of Sex’ from the outstanding ‘Pinkerton’ record. Further highlights included brilliant renditions of ‘Surf Wax America’ and ‘Say It Ain’t So’, a poptastic version of ‘Knock Down Drag Out’, the site of 5000 fans pogoing through a ticker-tape storm during ‘Hash Pipe’ and a cover of The Turtles classic ‘So Happy Together’. And this is forgetting a brooding ‘Only In Dreams’and the anthemic closing of ‘Buddy Holly’.

A special mention must also go to the backstage staff, who not only gave us perfect sound quality, but a stage show worthy of the rather hefty ticket price. We got the drum riser, ticker-tape and huge flashing ‘W’ Weezer logo.

Catch this lot live whenever you get the chance. Say it ain’t so that it will take another six years for them to come back again…

Setlist: Dope Nose, Photograph, My Name Is Jonas, The Good Life, Superstar, Island In The Sun, Surf Wax America, Tired Of Sex, Burndt Jamb, Knock Down Drag Out, Undone (The Sweater Song), Why Bother?, Southern Dukes, Don’t Let Go, Say It Ain’t So, Hash Pipe, Only In Dreams, So Happy Together, Buddy Holly.

Paul Savage