Tuesday, June 26, 2007


DEVO – SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE

Last year I saw the Blue Man Group perform and for sheer futuristic excitement I didn’t think it would be topped. That was until DEVO showed me the way. For literally years I have dreamed of seeing DEVO with the fear that it might not even near (let alone surpass) expectations. Regardless, it was a risk that had to be taken.

For some reason the band chosen to support this evening was an outfit called The Scanners. I was hoping for something of a real treat, perhaps the Polysics, but instead the audience found themselves subjected to perhaps the polar opposite of the inventiveness of DEVO. Playing out like a version of Republic with no dance influence and no drum machine The Scanners turned out to be a lacklustre outfit with few ideas and little personality, very staid and ordinary rocking a genre that has almost been rocked to death. This is a confusing choice of support but one that at least doesn’t kill me. When the frontwoman smartly announces to the crowd “we’re through being cool”, I confess I question the “being” element of the statement as well as the “cool” element but most definitely welcome the “through” element.

Eventually the lights dim and DEVO’s show begins. The screen above the stage springs to life as General Boy addresses the crowd and commends the audience for their choice of entertainment this evening. As he runs through a guidance of how to properly conduct oneself at the concert he then reads through a quick guide of the type of person that will be attending the show this evening. When he reaches the “preppy” this is cue for everyone to boo because “he dad probably owns the town you live in.” Unfortunately when I boo I can’t help but feel the people around me do not get the joke and think I am booing DEVO itself.

For tonight’s show Racton and I find ourselves sat upstairs for the best view and results possible. In the throngs of the masses we look down and see literally dozens of Energy Domes and as soon as the band hit the stage more than a couple of these go flying.

The sad reality is that the first thing I think is boy do they look old and when Mark Mothersbaugh comes out sporting a zimmer frame it turns out that this is a fact acknowledged by the band. However when he picks the frame up and throws it at someone on the side of the stage you pray there are no casualties.

The band immediately tear it “That’s Good” and all things most definitely are good. On stage energy levels are high as it becomes apparent/obvious that there is true power in those domes. As the song reaches its climax Mothersbaugh acknowledges the rafters by mock firing an invisible rifle in our direct. Already after one song excitement levels have overwhelmed me in my seat and I feel exhausted.

Tonight DEVO perform everything. “Goin’ Under” soon follows and not long after that the moves begin as the band display choreography no other band of their being (age) will ever be able to replicate. Who can top this? Nobody.

To the left of the stage is Josh Freese on drums and this man is a true powerhouse, a horrible giving/lending and adding so much to the drive and material of DEVO. Here is a man truly incendiary.

It is obvious that this is a special occasion and the hits do not stop coming. After “Peek-A-Boo” adds a demented feel to proceedings before the perfect pop couplet of “Girl U Want” and “Whip It” rips proceedings apart.

Coming next is the royal pairing of cover versions in “Secret Agent Man” and “Satisfaction.” As the yellow radiation suits begin to get ripped off the formalities continue as the band remains in uniform as a most solid unit.

Devolution continues to transgress as “Mongoloid” crashes into “Blockhead.” The light show ensues inevitably during “Jocko Homo” as the letters behind the band at the back of the stage glow to reveal the names of our heroes and where the human race appears to be ultimately headed.

After a break taken to stand and salute the “Devo Corporate Anthem” the band storm and stomp into “Freedom Of Choice” before Mothersbaugh suffers some kind of breakdown running around in small circles to the angst that is “Gut Feeling”, this is truly the life aquatic.

The set ends with an old friend and guest taking the stage in the form of Booji Boy. The years do not look like have been kind to him as he clumsily lumps on stage to address the crowd in wonder. From here the band proceeds to tear into “Beautiful World” serving as the ultimate climax and confirmation that is time there a few better places to be in the world at this precise moment in time. Against the odds his voice sounds great and when the song takes its sad twist in revealing that it isn’t a beautiful world for Booji Boy from out of a pouch, his fanny pack, suddenly comes a seemingly endless stream of rubber bouncy balls that he fires down at the stage bouncing back up and flying into the baying audience. Its look the like most beautiful sprinkle and even though I am sat up in the rafters with the best view in the house I still think that I am able to reach out and catch one of the balls, such is the air of optimism that DEVO gives to me.

When the balls run out and the band leaves the stage briefly Booji Boy finds himself being chased in what appears a gesture of reluctance to leave. I really hope that kid gets through.

As Racton and I pick our jaws off the floor we are literally stunned at how great the set/show was. Even with a price tag of £40 and the omission of my own personal favourite DEVO tune (“Through Being Cool”) we emerge stunned and exhausted. I have seen Sonic Youth and Fugazi countless times but never have they ever come close to anything as amazing as that. Tonight we go home happy.

Set list (according to the internet)

That’s Good
Goin’ Under
Peek-A-Boo
Girl U Want
Whip It
Secret Agent Man
Satisfaction
Uncontrollable Urge
Mongoloid
Blockhead
Jocko Homo
Smart Patrol
Mr DNA
Gates Of Steel
Devo Corporate Anthem
Freedom Of Choice
Gut Feeling
Slap Your Mammy
Beautiful World

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