live review



January 11 2013
The Vector Arena, Auckland

Reviewed by Michael McClelland
14th January 2013

It’s been 17 years since Weezer’s catastrophic Pinkerton tour gig at the Logan Campbell centre, and seven studio albums of mixed critical response. It’s no doubt, then, that Weezer are not the same band they were in the mid-90s when their powerful debut came out. For those of us that missed out on it while it was happening, this tour brought a humble reminder of the ‘Blue’ album, and for everyone else, Weezer graciously provided everything in between with a “greatest hits and rarities” performance to open their show.

The screws were tightened after their 1996 show, with Weezer having since graduated from college rock to full-on arena spectacles. Even Ruban Nielson’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra, who opened the night, got a huge, appreciative crowd. The sound technicians still hadn’t got everything worked out, unfortunately, as UMO sounded too muddy and overdriven. Even Weezer itself suffered momentarily during the beginning of ‘My Name Is Jonas’ when front-guy Rivers Cuomo’s mic was turned down too low.

In spite of sonic criticisms, the spectacle was impressive. At the time of the Blue album, when confrontation in rock music was becoming a tired trope, Weezer looked back to the “pre-drug days, that felt, ironically, rebellious" – and, in 2013, with Rivers having clambered across barriers and fans to stand atop the bar in the back of the auditorium amidst a swarm of hands, he politely refused alcohol in favour of a refreshing drink of water. This was definitely an interesting way to begin the show.

Though the “greatest hits and rarities” setlist contained a strange lack of any rarities, the hits were certainly there - 2009’s “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To”, 2008’s “Pork And Beans”, and even the once-overplayed “Beverly Hills” from 2005. Among the nice surprises from the greatest hits set were two tracks from 1996’s Pinkerton, one of which was the less accessible ‘Tired of Sex’, to round up the first half of the night. If the crowd went off for 'Hash Pipe', 2001’s "totally insane song about a homosexual transvestite prostitute," it appears people will appreciate anything at a Weezer show.

The tour organisers took great care to break up the evening with an intermission, a slideshow narrated by Weezer archivist Karl Koch. As the lights once again dimmed, Weezer took a triumphant return to the stage. Rivers had shed his suit-and-glasses attire for a more down-to-earth appearance, the same casual t-shirt and pants shown on the Blue Album cover. Even if it was a very obvious nostalgia cash-in, the band delivered with a lighthearted fondness that no-one in attendance really had the heart to shoot down. Instead, the audience was all about singing along to music they hadn’t realised they knew all the words to.

Weezer might have made it cool to be geek, but it was never very geek to be cool. As such, Rivers Cuomo is true to his roots at an age more ready for dad jokes than ever, 42 (“it’s not Old Zealand…”). Not a beat was missed, just the same as those in live videos from the age this tour recalled. Rivers and Weezer are and always have been dedicated to their craft, even if his tired voice showed some weakness from touring this one time. By the end of ‘Only In Dreams’, which had been played note-perfect the whole way through, the band showed no sign of letting up – enough to make you wonder if there was more to come. Sadly, there was no encore, but since the crowd was given the greatest hits set, there was little to complain about.

Weezer haven’t lost a fragment of their musical ability, and as such, the Blue Album was delivered in sonic glory to the thousands of eager fans who grew up on it. It might have been a somewhat predictable performance, but the conviction with which it was delivered proved that Weezer are still the same goofy yet loveable freaks. As the promoter’s press release put it, “these shows are more than just a tour; they represent a culmination of years of collective longing.” The album of the night is enduring proof – nearly twenty years on from its release, the Blue Album remains a colourful, passionate soundtrack for outcasts everywhere pumping their skinny little fists.


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