Tuesday 20 August 2013

The B-52's at IndigO2 - 16 August 2013

The B-52's (Kate Pierson giving it some welly)

I head to the O2 via a boat down the Thames. It is a silly (and expensive) conceit, but there's something undeniably thrilling about approaching the venue in this fashion.

After staying perhaps a little too long in a hospitable riverside inn I wander into the vastness of the Dome itself.

This is the first time that I've been to Indigo, the small 'club' venue that dwells in the shadow of the O2 Arena proper.

The room has been expertly designed on the same lines as show spaces within Las Vegas hotels. There are no slot machines, but sight lines are clear, sound quality is good and there is the illusion of approachability.

The support band are in the final throes of their set. Surprisingly, it turns out that these are punk pioneers The Members, now down to a three piece and older than death.

Despite looking like Methuselah's grandparents, they rattle along with great vim. Even back in the day, they were principally known for a single song and when they finish tonight with an epic clatter through 'Sound of the Suburbs', it sounds wonderful, a truly classic piece of music.

I head to the bar and find myself stood next to a guy dressed as a lobster. A rock lobster. There's quite a few folk who have dressed up tonight, happy to leave their dignity at the door in tribute to the B-52's, one of the greatest party bands to ever cut a rug.

Now down to a trio of original members (guitarist Keith Strickland doesn't tour anymore), Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson are ably assisted by an extremely well schooled backing band.

The set starts with 'Planet Claire', Kate Pierson a vision in red, warbling like a human theremin.

It's hits all the way and it extraordinary how contemporary and fresh everything sounds. The B-52's have been often unfairly dismissed as a novelty act because of their unabashed and unapologetic emphasis on fun and day-glo colours. But the music is clipped, stripped down and sparse, with no extraneous embellishment, just pure dance rhythm.

Great tune follows great tune - 'Mesopotamia', 'Roam', a terrific '6060-842', 'Private Idaho', - we dance this mess around, the party out of bounds.

Fred does his snarky comments, Cindy gets a big solo number and Kate is a sashaying, shimmering crimson phenomenon.

Oddly, the only track that falls even slightly short of greatness is 'Love Shack', which feels a little underpowered this evening.

That's a tiny caveat. This is an easy home win of a gig and everyone, on stage and off, looks to be having a great time.

Although I've always loved them, this is the first time that I've ever seen the B-52's. I'm so glad to rectify this.

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