Live review: Weezer, O2 Academy, Birmingham 27/10/2017

by David Evans

Nostalgia is a tricky customer, do it correctly and you’re awash with a dreamy, wistful, melancholy. That wonderful happy-sadness that conjures up the past in blurred, primal colours and leaves you remenicising about past friends and lives in reverent tones.

Do it wrong, however, and you’re looking at your past with a critical eye and embarrassed by past sins. Like recalling when you wore brown velvet flares for the entirety of the summer of 1999. (Fashion, please forgive me.)

Weezer’s Blue Album was the first CD I bought for myself in 1994 after getting my first CD player. It was quickly followed by Lenny Kravitz much maligned (and rightly so) Circus, and Silverchair’s eternally drudgy ‘Frogstomp’. 

The majority of the songs/albums/bands that meant something to me in my formative years mean very little to me now. That’s what happens, time changes tastes; however, the ‘Blue’ album – a perfect blend of grunge-power-pop and lyrics about “Homies dissing my girl” – has stuck with me for over twenty years. Judging by the response that those songs receive in the gig tonight, they have stuck with a fair few others as well.

Weezer, live. In Birmingham. There they are on the Academy stage, bashing out ‘The World Has Turned…’ to raptorous applause. They follow it up with a Greatest Hits set, combining recent efforts such as ‘Feels Like Summer’ and ’Thank God for Girls’ with past hits ‘Pork’N’Beans’ and ‘Beverly Hills’. However, there is no denying the audience need’s tonight with the band playing an incredible EIGHT songs from the ‘Blue’ album.

The band are tight and in joyous mood, the audience are singing guitar solos and joining in all the bewildering harmonies. Rivers Cuomo, singer/songwriter, is jumping from one end of the stage to the other, leading the masses in one gigantic, cathartic release of Friday night rock’n’roll.

And that’s what Weezer are, a rock’n’roll band, power chords ring out like bell chimes, drums are pounded with little nuance, and songs about the opposite sex breaking your heart are celebrated like your best ever Christmas present.

Of course, the highlights are the songs from ‘Blue’, ‘No One Else’ is an early highlight, the audience even bellowing out the ‘1-2,1-2,1-2,1-2!’ refrain before the last chorus to the obvious delight of the band. ‘The Sweater Song’, a Pavement-lite ditty on record, turns into a muscular beast live, and surely remains the best song about knitwear ever written.

However, it’s ‘My Name Is Jonas’ that prompts near hysteria and fist pumping from the crowd, ‘The workers are going home’ blasted to the heavens with smiles from all around. Of course, they end with ‘Buddy Holly’ a song so familiar that it feels like a nursery rhyme that you used to sing in school. Live, the intricate harmonies stand centre-stage, as well as the wonderful organ-esque tones of the lead guitar which is beautifully re-created from the record. 

By the time of the final chorus, you can barely hear the bands voices, as a sweeping euphoria takes hold in the venue and carries the audience away into the night. Job, very much, done.

Nostalgia, Weezer do it right.

David writes, DJs with The House That Jack Built, and sometimes appears in comedy sketches; he loves bacon rolls, kind people, and John Candy.

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