Friday, 9 August 2013

LA Report: B52's + X

Does this sound like the most unlikely line-up? It gets better: The concert took place at the bowl of the Orange County Fair! I am not kidding you, we were sitting open air in an amphitheatre while seeing the fairground rides in the background. It was definitely one of the oddest, as well as most fun, settings I have been to see a band play.

Naturally, the main reason we had undertaken the long trek from Sherman Oaks to Newport Beach (2.5 hours due to bad traffic) was X. The original 1970s punk legends from Los Angeles are still playing and I suppose everyone should have seen X play once in their lives. We have a photograph of a live X performance on our living room wall - it would be daft to miss out on the real thing. 

Truth be told, it was awe-inspiring to see such music legends play live. But I did also get a little bored after a while. I know I know, I should totally not admit that. I should tell you how incredible the show was and all. And I will still tell you that. However, the band are also known for their individuals performing separately from each other on stage. There is not much of a rapport between the band members or any type of show as such that would keep you entertained. Unless you know the songs really well and that is what you are there for, there is nothing much beyond that to draw you in. Of course those songs were good though. The energy in them is still there, they are definitely timeless pieces of music.

What I did really enjoy, however, was the audience. I realise that X have a different standing in California than they do in Berlin. Despite that, I did not think for a second that such a large amount of people would have coughed up the considerable amount of cash to see X as a support band. Suprised I was. A large part of the audience had quite clearly primarily showed up for this LA quartet, cheering the band on and knowing the lyrics to the songs. Nobody was seated in the seats-only venue. It was quite a party and I was impressed as well as entertained by the middle-aged rock audience X had drawn. The band was quite clearly humbled by this attention, thanking people for having showed up so early for the show. The placed was packed.
The B52's were exactly what you would expect: fun, quirky, weird, cool. Down to three original members, they took turns singing and communicated plenty with the crowd. You may like or not like their music - I do love their songs, though I tend towards the poppier numbers - these people are first class entertainers and you have to love them for it. It was incredibly impressive to hear that they could perform the songs the way you would want to hear them, with the high notes and the low notes - none of that sad downtuning of all songs to account of ageing vocal chords.
The best part of the evening was clearly the moment Kate Pierson asked Fred Schneider: "Let's look into the future. Fred can look into the future. Fred, what do you see?" and Fred answered: "I see a good future and it will but Bush- and Cheney-free". The Orange County conversative audience started booing. It was quite unreal. Fred only answered them with: "Oh come on, you know we are liberals". I loved this!

A fun night out in beachside California!

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