The Tubes Brudenell Social Club Leeds 11th August 2015
Recently I’ve become very bad at keeping my blog up to date. I lost the momentum that I had when I was writing an entry a day. So apologies for the lateness of this entry.
Norm, Mick and I took a trip to Leeds a couple of weeks ago, our purpose being to reconnect with those crazy Tubes guys. For me, it had been many years since I had sampled the mad delights of our heroes; the last time I saw the Tubes was at Newcastle City Hall in the early 1980s. My two companions went to a Tubes gig 10 or so years ago, when they played Newcastle Academy.
The Tubes are a strange mix of classic rock, great musicianship, punk, vaudeville, shock-rock, camp and musical theatre. Their shows worked best as big productions, and I still have great memories of their first UK tour back in 1977, and their OTT Knebworth appearance a year or so later. The venue for this show was the excellent Brudenell Social Club. I wondered how their show would translate to a smaller stage and an intimate club setting.
We arrived in Brudenell in plenty of time to sample a local hostelry just along the road from the Social Club. As we entered the bar, who should we spot but Tubes drummer Prairie Prince. Norm wandered over for a chat, and Prince kindly signed his ticket from the City Hall 1977 concert. Mick and I joined them. Mick, being a drummer himself, holds Prairie Prince in the highest regard, declaring him his favourite drummer.
Today’s Tubes feature four members from the original band: Prince on drums, our hero and manic front man Fee Waybill on vocals, the excellent Roger Steen on guitar, and Rick Anderson on bass. The Brudenell was packed full of fans from all over the North; Norm ran into some mates from work.
The show started with a short instrumental piece. Soon our hero Fee made his usual dramatic entrance in a big raincoat and hat. I wasn’t sure if he was Frank Sinatra or a Chicago gangster. Actually, no he was Gene Pitney, and soon gave us an excellent rendition of “Town without Pity”. The set was classic Tubes, drawn from throughout their early albums. The show was as theatrical as ever. Of course they didn’t have the stage sets like back in the day, but Fee made up for it in terms of costume changes, facial expression and attitude. He soon became a convict in full striped uniform, and at one point sang through the bars of a small prison cell box which covered his head. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Tubes show without Fee in full outrageous bondage gear for “Mondo Bondage”. Not for the squeamish or the easily shocked. The show came to it’s crazy full-on mad climax with Fay being reborn as Quay Lewd and we all screamed along to “White Punks on Dope”. Classic stuff. We stayed back and got the band’s autographs. Norm took some pics, I will add one later…travelling at the moment. Happy days here again.
Setlist:Getoverture; This Town; Town Without Pity; Power Tools; Rat Race; Crime Medley; Mr. Hate; Amnesia; No Way Out; Life Is Pain; Mondo Bondage; Up From the Deep; What Do You Want From Life; Sushi Girl; Don’t Want to Wait Anymore; Drum Solo (Prairie Prince); Boy Crazy; White Punks On Dope
Encore: She’s A Beauty; I Saw Her Standing There; Talk to Ya Later; Third Stone From The Sun
Archive for the ‘Tubes’ Category
The Tubes Brudenell Social Club Leeds 11th August 2015
“Oh God, Not Another Boring Old Knebworth” said the posters. Line-up: The Tubes, Frank Zappa, Peter Gabriel, Boomtown Rats, Rockpile, Wilko Johnson’s Solid Senders.
This was the second Knebworth festival to take place in 1978, following the Genesis / Jefferson Starship / Tom Petty gig earlier in the summer. I remember thinking it was a bit late in the year for an open air gig and feared the worst from the weather, but actually it was ok on the day; quite fine. I drove down with a group of mates. We argued all the way down about who was the “best” act of the day. Such things seemed to matter a lot in those days. In the car we had a big Zappa fan (me, and I was sure that Zappa was the biggest and best act and should be headlining), a newly converted Tubes fanatic, and a couple of Peter Gabriel / Genesis fans. Zappa and the Tubes were billed as joint headliners, however on the day the Tubes closed the show, which annoyed me a little. We camped and pitched our tents near a big generator (big mistake) which for some reason we didn’t really notice when we set up. However it was humming loudly all night and powering a massive floodlight which shone on our tents, so we didn’t get much sleep.
The show was opened by the Boomtown Rats, Wilko Johnson who had recently left Dr Feelgood and was fronting his new band Solid Senders, and Rockpile featuring Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe. All class acts and a great start to the day. I’ve already written about Peter Gabriel and the Tubes in earlier posts. Both were great; the Tubes closed the festival with a massive crazy show. They were joined by Todd Rundgren for encores of Baba O’Reilly and
The Kids are alright, played in honour of Keith Moon who had died just two days before this concert.
Zappa was great, although I didn’t enjoy his performance as much as the concert I saw in Edinburgh the year before. His band had changed and they played very few songs that I knew. Still, it was a good day with a varied, and very strong line-up, although the lack of a major league headliner resulted in a far from capacity crowd.
We spent the night with a big light shining on us, a loud humming noise from the generator, and a few “Wally” shouts (although they were starting to fade away by this point in the ’70s). Very little sleep and a long drive home in the morning.
Zappa setlist: Rubber Slices (The Deathless Horsie); Introduction and Soundcheck; Dancin’ Fool; Easy Meat; Honey, Don’t You Want a Man Like Me?; Keep it Greasey; Village of the Sun; Poor Suckers (The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing); City of Tiny Lites; A Pound for a Brown on the Bus; Bobby Brown; Conehead; Flakes (part 1); Flakes (part 2); Magic Fingers; Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow; Nanook Rubs It; Saint Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast; Father O’Blivion / Rollo; Bamboozled by Love
Zappa band: Frank Zappa (guitar, vocals); Vinnie Colaiuta (drums); Arthur Barrow (bass); Ed Mann (percussion); Tommy Mars (keyboards); Denny Walley (guitar, vocals); Peter Wolf (keyboards); and Ike Willis (guitar, vocals).
The Tubes Newcastle City Hall 17th June 1981
Come 1981 and The Tubes were back at the City Hall again. This time they had turned full circle, had become businessmen and were wearing suits. They had just released their 6th album “The Completion Backward Principle”, which was a concept album presented as a motivational business document. The album received good reviews, and featured much more poppy, accessiblem songs than their previous albums. “A favorite of many Tubes fans, this is a unique album in their catalog in that it married their quirky songwriting and stage persona with a commercial appeal. The breakout that the band had been searching for with their backs to the wall had finally arrived” (from Wikipedia). The album was a success and the band went out on a world tour to promote.
The stage show was based around the album concept, and featured many of the new songs. We were, of course, also treated to old favourites including “Mondo Bondage” and “White Punks on Dope” which was reserved for the encore. This was much more of a straight theatrical show, and although enjoyable, it lacked the amateur crazinesh of their first UK concerts.
Setlist (something like): A Matter Of Pride; Think About Me; Amnesia; Mr. Hate; Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman; Smoke (La Vie En Fumer); Mondo Bondage; Don’t Want to Wait Anymore; Sushi Girl; Talk to Ya Later; Tubes World Tour.
Encore: Let’s Make Some Noise; White Punks on Dope
This was the last time that I saw the Tubes.
The Tubes Newcastle City Hall 13th May 1979
Two years on since The Tube blew us all away with a crazy visual onslaught, they were back on tour in the UK again. This time they had a concept album to play and show to us all. “Remote Control” was based around the concept that “TV is King” and was produced by Todd Rundgren. The show featured the new album and old favourites with all the crazy stage antics that we had come to expect from these guys. This time The Tubes played two shows in one night, I went to the late show with a bunch of mates. A fun show, but for me it was beginning to feel more like a musical theatre show than a rock show. Still, it was all worth while just to get the chance to see along with Fee on “White Punks on Dope”.
Support came from the excellent Squeeze.
Setlist (something like): Getoverture; Turn Me On; TV Is King; Be Mine Tonight; Don’t Touch Me There; No Mercy; Only the Strong Survive; I Want It All Now; What Do You Want From Life; No Way Out; Telecide; Love’s a Mystery (I Don’t Understand); Tubes World Tour; Stand Up and Shout; White Punks on Dope (The Who’s Baba O’Riley and The Kids are Alright featured as encores at some shows)
“We’re white punks on dope
Mom & Dad moved to Hollywood
Hang myself when I get enough rope
Can’t clean up, though I know I should
White punks on dope
White punks on dope”
(White Punks on Dope, The Tubes, 1975)
The Tubes Newcastle City Hall 6th November 1977
This was a gig like no other. The Tubes were virtually unknown in the UK, but stories of their crazy OTT stage show were gradually creeping over from the USA. This was the band to out-shock, out-punk, and out-do everyone else, and outrage the general population at the same time. So when “The Toobs” came over for a tour of UK theatres and concert halls we just had to see them. We had tickets for Yes, with Donovan support, at Glasgow Apollo on the same night, but we sold them to friends, as we couldn’t pass on the chance to see this.
Video screens all over the place, dancers, 50ft stacks, lots of props and each song a new concept and the chance for the band to play new roles. So many highlights. You couldn’t take it all in. And just when you thought the Tubes had been as outrageous as they could possibly be, the next song is even crazier, wilder, and more obnoxious.
Alpha male Fee Waybill and the gorgeous Re Styles dueted on’Don’t Touch Me There’ from a motorbike. Fee Way strapped Styles between two video monitors to perform some ‘MondoBondage’. The band become the punk parody “Johnny Bugger and the Dirtboxes”. Waybill threatens us all with a chain saw while singing “I Saw Her Standing There”. For the end of the show Waybill became Quay Lewd, the ultimate glam rock star complete with three feet high platform shoes, and led us all through a crazy rendition of “White Punks on Dope”.
Totally amazing. We were all blown away. 🙂 🙂
Support came from Wire (Dot Dash 🙂 )
Reviews of the time were ecstatic. “The Tubes are a spectacle unlike any other. They present a relentless onslaught of humour, outrage, parody, idiocy, music and costume – a feast for the senses.” (Paul Rambali, NME)
“It’s nothing short of magnificent. The only words you can use are ones like sensory overkill. The act doesn’t leave you alone. One moment it’s the band in white intern coats playing straight techno-rock. Then it’s a dance troupe on the lam from Star Wars, and then there’s the punk pastiche. Except, pastiche or not, The Tubes can cut harder and deeper than 90%s of the new wave.” (Mick Farren, NME).
Set list (based on the live lp recorded during the 1977 London concert run at Hammersmith): Overture; Got Yourself a Deal; Show Me a Reason; What Do You Want from Life; God-Bird-Change; Special Ballet; Don’t Touch Me There; Mondo Bondage; Smoke (La vie en Fumér); Crime Medley (starting with a siren and including themes from Dragnet, Peter Gunn, Perry Mason & Untouchables); I Was a Punk Before You Were a Punk; I Saw Her Standing There; Boy Crazy; You’re No Fun; Stand Up and Shout; White Punks on Dope.
The Tubes were Fee Waybill (front man extraordinaire, crazy guy & vocals), Bill Spooner (guitar), Michael Cotten (synth), Mingo Lewis (percussion), Prairie Prince (massive drum riser and kit), Roger Steen (guitar), Vince Welnick (keyboards), Rick Anderson (bass) and Re Styles (vocals, dance and many unspeakable things with Fee).
I saw the Tubes again in 1978, at the Knebworth Festival sharing a bill with Frank Zappa and Peter Gabriel. I’ll save that one for when I come to write about Zappa. The Tubes were back at the City Hall again in 1979 for the ‘Remote Control’ tour, with support from Squeeze. I’ll write about that gig tomorrow.