Los Angeles-based rockers Weezer made their live UK return with two dates, hitting up Manchester’s Academy venue followed by London’s Brixton Academy almost five years since their last time in London, on the very same stage. Famed for their interspersion of self-titled colour and named album releases, last week saw the release of well-received tenth studio album: Weezer “The White Album”.
Returning to the Brixton Academy the Californian four-piece strolled onto the stage, their famous illuminated “W” sign behind them, to screams from their five-year patient London audience, tearing straight into White Album opener California Kids. Frontman Rivers Cuomo, the sole man in white with the rest of the band in black, was lit up by spotlights, setting the scene for the show.
Blue Album track My Name Is Jonas turned the crowd from quietly appreciative to outright frenzied, the debut album opener a long-standing fan favourite. And if Jonas got the crowd going, Green Album hit single Hash Pipe sent them over the edge next.
“Hello London. We’re Weezer from California.” The 45-year-old frontman said, dryly addressing his audience for the first time. “We have a new album out called The White Album. This next song is on it. It’s called L.A. Girlz”, the cringey-named song itself a rather refreshing cut from the new record that had Cuomo stepping out from behind his mic to a wah-wah pedal on his right for a guitar solo.
Pinkerton song El Scorcho had the long-standing fan base in the crowd singing along with every word once more to the 1996-released single, Cuomo relinquishing vocal duties at times, turning his microphone to the audience.
Quirky Red Album track Pork And Beans had the frontman handing over vocal duties for sections to guitarist Brian Bell, drummer Patrick Wilson and bass player Scott Shriner, with Wilson not game for singing instead saying “I never know what to say here, I don’t like singing. I want to thank you for coming here tonight, it’s been fantastic” to laughs from the crowd.
New album track Thank God For Girls had the crowd singing along with the catchy chorus, the hooky tune one of the highlights of The White Album.
El Scorcho b-side You Gave Your Love To Me Softly had guitarist Bell taking over lead vocal duties as Cuomo wandered about the Brixton stage filling in with lead guitar parts.
Early hits Island In The Sun from Green and Blue’s Undone (The Sweater Song) closed out the main set in sing-along glory while an increasing number of crowd surfers found their way to the stage.
Sole cut from 2005’s Make Believe, Beverly Hills, kicked off the two-song encore before the song that launched them into the stratosphere, 1994’s Buddy Holly, closed the night with sing-alongs from the entire 5,000-strong crowd for their most enduring hit.
Known for writing short, punchy, whimsical rock songs, Weezer’s seemingly lengthy 21-song set wrapped up in just under 80 minutes but left the audience happily satisfied and the Brixton Academy a serious sweatbox with only 2002’s Maladroit and 2010’s Hurley not dipped into this time around.
While some might compare Cuomo’s somewhat stiff stage presence to Rick Moranis’ character in Ghostbusters, without much movement about the stage and little in the way of chat between numbers, delivery of the material is spot on and sufficient rock star hair flailing is provided by Brian Bell.
The summer-themed, teenage-angsty new material could be interpreted as some sort of pastiche of earlier Weezer records, but what’s wrong with a band doing what they do best? Tracks like California Kids and King Of The World hark back to the good old days of the Blue and Green albums but serve to put this year’s White Album firmly among the nerd-rockers’ finest … and make me want to go out and track down a cannoli or two!
Weezer head out on a massive 42-date North American summer tour with Panic! At The Disco next before hitting up festivals in South Korea and Japan in August.
Live review of Weezer @ Brixton Academy by Kalpesh Patel on 5th April 2016.
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Kalpesh has more music photography up on his flickr stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate