Thursday 9th February 2017
The world needs the B-52s!
As the sun sets on a balmy Thursday evening in Sydney, thoughts turn to songs about green dogs, planets with pink air and red trees, lobsters and our extra-terrestrial friends/visitors, the B-52s, who after 8 long years away, are back in Sydney co-headlining a tour with Simple Minds. Just the ticket to de-stress from the day at work or the world at large and a fun filled night is assured.
The self-proclaimed “tacky little dance band from Athens, Georgia” are tacky no longer, nor so little, as 40 years has come and gone since that famous first gig on Valentine’s Day 1977 when they played the 4 songs they knew, twice through, at a friend’s house party. The B-52s have always been synonymous with fun and the tag “The World’s Greatest Party Band” is not a throwaway line. They are loved and admired all over the globe.
Tonight’s show opens with the title track from Cosmic Thing which from 1989 is about as recent as the songs get in this tours set list. In 2009 the B-52s toured a new album Funplex with many tracks played from that LP but tonight’s show is all about the hits, and Cosmic Thing was a huge album for them back in the day.
Keith Strickland has retired from touring so Fred Schneider III, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson pick up the baton and steer tonight’s proceedings. They are ably supported by Sterling Campbell on drums and Tracy Wormworth on bass, who have both toured with the B-52s over many years, and Greg Suran playing guitar on this tour.
The Hordern Pavilion is full to its 5000 people capacity tonight and there is only a little room at the back end of the room towards the bars where you can leap around like a maniac and dance your own mess around. Many great outfits are on display and some colorful patrons have gone to great lengths to make this a memorable and joyous occasion.
The B-52s are sounding strong and who could forget those gorgeous harmonies that Kate and Cindy can conjure up with the stark contrast of Fred’s bombastic dulcet tones. “Mesopotamia” has a fantastic thumping beat and Fred singing “Maybe I should have read a book – but there’s one thing I do know. There’s a lot of ruins in Mesopotamia” puts a huge smile on my face. Their songs are about joy and happiness and exploring the caves of the unknown.
The B-52s self-entitled album was hugely popular when it was released almost 40 years ago and it is no surprise that many of the tracks are played in this set tonight. “Planet Claire", "52 Girls", "Dance this mess around" and "Rock Lobster “( the entire side A of this LP) all get played tonight along with “Lava” from side B of this iconic album.
Wild Planet from 1980 also gets a good run with “Private Idaho” and “Party out of bounds” particular favorites on the night.
“Roam", "Love Shack" and "Deadbeat Club” from Cosmic Thing are met with thunderous applause as everybody seems to know these songs. All in all, the set list is a brilliant feast of great catchy tunes that has the place pumping for the hour or so that the B-52s are on. Maybe a couple of more tunes might have prolonged the joy but a co-headlining tour doesn’t afford the artist that much time, which is a pity.
You cannot help but feel exhilarated and truly happy watching and listening to the B-52s. The chemistry between Kate, Cindy and Fred is still there and is testament to the fact that they are still good friends.
They have toured Australia 5 times now and I for one have seen their tours in 1990, 2004, 2009 and now 2017 and they show no sign of slowing down. I have a deep admiration for them as a band and as a collective of individuals you will not find 3 more kind, warm and generous people in Kate, Fred and Cindy. You guys are welcome back anytime.
enjoy many more photos here
** Many thanks to Tania Smith for the fabulous photos!