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Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh
12th August 2015

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland

the tubes

It's not often an icon comes to town, even if it is an underground one. The Tubes have been playing spectacular, controversial live shows since the mid seventies and have a loyal fan base even this long after their glory days. There was a real sense of anticipation in the room which was only placated when after a lengthy musical intro the star of the show walked onto the stage.

There are other members of The Tubes of course and in particular tonight I was impressed by guitarist Roger Steen's fluid, melodic playing, but there is one dominant figure in the show and that is singer Fee Waybill. Famous for his theatrical antics he starts things low key dressed in a trench coat, sharp mobster suit and fedora hat and croons his way through covers of 'This Town' and 'Town Without Pity' which were made famous by Frank Sinatra and Gene Pitney respectively.

This wish to search through the more obscure parts of their back catalogue continued with the likes of 'Rat Race' from their unreleased 'Suffer For Sound' album. This was all well received and Waybill enjoyed himself sparring with the audience between songs but everyone was waiting for the costume changes to start and soon enough they did.

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This was my first sighting of The Tubes live and it was obvious that there is a tradition of songs they must play and in which their frontman must perform in character as created in their live shows back in the day. In practice this means that every so often the band do an instrumental section(and one time unfortunately a drum solo) and then Waybill appears in character and the crowd explode and sing along with the songs concerned.

All the famous slots were there, Fee in the fetish mask and waving a torch around during 'Mondo Bondage', Fee wearing a jail cell as a hat for 'No Way Out', Fee dressed as a lunatic escaping a straitjacket, it all went down a treat with the adoring crowd here.

the tubes

When things were kept on the more straight and narrow performance wise like on their take on the eighties power ballad 'Don't Want To Wait Any More' that love was still in the air despite the vocals not exactly being stellar after all these years on tour.

The main set built to the inevitable climax after that damn drum solo with the appearance of Fee as Quay Lewd with unbelievable ten inch platform boots and totally over the top glam look. 'White Punks On Dope' is their best known song and for me easily their best tune overall and was a triumphant end to set full of laughs and theatre.

the tubes

I have to say that while the crowd around me were having the time of their lives as a non Tubes devotee I just didn't find the songs and music behind all the theatrics all that interesting. I tried to enjoy them but ended up feeling as out of place as an atheist at a religious revival.

The Tubes have something, you can tell by the reaction in the Liquid Rooms tonight. I personally didn't get it though, despite their charismatic front man so I left the crowd and the band to enjoy the inevitable encores together in a real party atmosphere. They are certainly an experience live but musically a taste I have yet to acquire.

the tubes

Line up:
Fee Waybill
Roger Steen
Prairie Prince
Rick Anderson
Dave Medd

3 pints from me, 5 pints from the audience.




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