Dotmusic.co.uk concert review - July 4, 2001

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WEEZER - SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE, LONDON
Gig played on: Wed, 4 Jul 2001
Chris Heath

The NHS specs have been dusted off, crumpled up Hawaiian shirts put on, and lank hair made as messy as possible because Weezer are back. The band that put the Geek into 'Geek Rock' are in town. After a five-year hibernation the scale of adoration on this the second of three sold-out nights must have astonished even the band. But then you wonder if anything really fazes them that much.

Who'd have thought after releasing one of the most successful debuts of the mid 90s, that they'd then follow it with a critically applauded but commercially ignored second album? And who'd have thought that half a decade down the line they'd be back with their best album yet? It's the Weezer way.

So when shy and retiring Rivers Cuomo - a strange visual hybrid of Mr. Muscle and Woody Allen - takes the stage to a hero's welcome you're unsure how he's going to react. Undeterred by the adulation, throughout the show the bespectacled frontman only treats the crowd to a few inaudible mutterings and occasionally lets his hair down (well, steps back from the mike) during the odd guitar solo but that's it. There isn't time anyway. They've got a set list as long as your arm to rattle through and there's a lot of ground to make up.

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Weezer are aware of their heritage, especially in the UK, and the bouncy crowd's affinity with them seems to quietly drive them on. Bearing this in mind, the confidence allows them to spoil tonight's audience with virtually the whole of the current Green Album. Not straying too far from the album's sound, the tracks are nonetheless given a welcome edge and - buoyed by a crystal clear sound system - allow the key to Weezer's success to shine through. There's nothing particularly complex or deep here. It's all punchy, bubblegum, guitar-driven love songs, all harmonies and hooks. Imagine the Beach Boys forming in 1977.

"Photograph," "Island In The Sun," and "Don't Let Go" are up early on, while the glorious "Crab" and jutting "Knock-down Drag-out" are both contenders for "tune of the night". But there's a long way to go. The laid-back Teenage Fanclub vibe of "Smile" soothes proceedings slightly while the venue predictably erupts with the pumping strains of "Hash Pipe"'s bassline and suddenly everyone's in on the harmony. "Whoa-A-Whoa!"s all round.

And then it's as if they've had enough of the new stuff and right on cue they wheel out a few oldies. A trio of classics are unearthed in quick succession to round off part one. But when put alongside the new material they seem to lack something in relation to what's gone before.

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The novelty factor certainly lightens the mood perfectly and in this environment they sound superb. Pinkerton's "Tired Of Sex" with its rundown of the days of the week; the garment-destroying tune "Undone - The Sweater Song" and their breakthrough song "Buddy Holly" (with deceptive intro) still sound as fresh today as they did when they first rewrote the rule-book, as does the encore of "Say It Ain't So" and "Surf Wax America." Weezer could have played for another hour and no one would have complained. As it was they departed leaving a desire for more that won't be sated until they return in the autumn.

As relevant as they were in '94, Weezer stand out for actually entertaining people and peddling unadulterated fun. And for this they should be applauded.