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“Melbourne! We are finally here! Let’s do this!” After a 16-year, seemingly self-imposed Australian tour hiatus, Rivers Cuomo and his merry men finally made the pilgrimage back Down Under on their Memories world tour, which was billed as them performing a greatest hits set, as well as their career highlight the 1994 Blue Album in full.The band pulled us all into their time machine and took us for a journey back in time, making pit stops to visit key moments of their careers, commencing from 2010’s Hurley through to Weezer’s early days when in 1994 they dropped their debut album. Such an unashamed trip down memory lane could have taken many different routes.
If you were to look back at key moments in your life, how would you react? Would you laugh? Cry? Cringe? or be otherwise indifferent? All of these were possible reactions for the audience and band alike, as they looked back on the highs and lows of the band’s existence over the last two decades.
If you hadn’t spent your formative years swapping mixtapes (YES CASSETTES) with your mates, or watching hours of Rage until the early hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings, then the relevance or importance of Weezer and this long-awaited tour may well be lost on you. And if you have achieved none of these things over your childhood, the odds are you weren’t here to question their relevance or their motives for touring now, as opposed to intermittently throughout the peak of their career. Whatever their motivations may be, they only needed to look at the size of the crowd packed up to the hill of the Music Bowl to know that they had been seriously missed.
Limbering up before taking to the stage in his official duty, Cuomo got into the spirit of the Australian Open Tennis – currently underway in Melbourne – by kicking about an oversized tennis ball at the rear of the stage, receiving cheers every time a Lionel Messi-like soccer juggling move was achieved.
Once the lights were dimmed though, it was strictly business. Considering the Memories theme, the song of the same name off the album Hurley was an apt opener, with (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To and Pork & Beans following quickly after, but considering the bulk of their success came off the back of earlier material, the crowd took some time to warm up. Ever the showman, however, Cuomo weaved his way through the crowd during Troublemaker up to the rear of the stalls and on top of the sound desk in front of the lawn section, doing his best to incorporate the entire venue into the performance. And with a venue with such wide and long perimeters as the Music Bowl, it certainly took some doing.
As the time machine continued its journey back in time, punchier numbers such as Beverly Hills, Dope Nose and Hash Pipe worked the skinny-jeans-wearing crowd into a more appropriate level of frenzy, with the band only pausing briefly between Hash Pipe and the summer-themed bliss of Island in the Sun to squeeze in a couple of lines of Men At Work’s Down Under. Had the crowd by this stage still not recaptured their youth, the introduction to the 1996 classic El Scorcho certainly gave them all the ammunition they needed.
Throughout the intermission between the two sets, long time Weezer friend and evidently documenter, Karl Koch gives the audience a visual walk through time, as a slide show of moments from the band’s past are shown behind Patrick Wilson’s drum riser. Embarrassing hair styles? Check! Suspicious moustaches? Check! An informative and behind-the-scenes look at one of the most important bands of the 1990s? CHECK! Seeing the actual garage that inspired In the Garage and a tour through the house and back yard that was featured in the promotional video for Say It Ain’t So was something that fanboys and trivia buffs alike could enjoy. What doesn’t serve the die hards as vital information is seen by the larger audience as moments of hilarity, which led up to the press photos and final pressing of what was about to be introduced, 1994’s Blue Album.
Repositioning themselves on the stage for the second time, the band blasted their way into My Name Is Jonas, with it showing no signs of age, considering its approaching its 21st birthday. Moments like No One Else and The World Has Turned and Left Me Here, however, seemed to fall flat amongst the other heavyweights that surrounded them. It’s not entirely unexpected that an album full of songs written in the early 90s would all leave the same mark 20 years on; their audience are 20 years older and the connection with the songs inevitably dissipates as time passes. The joy about Weezer, however, is that they perform these songs with as much enthusiasm as men 20 years their junior. Cuomo is still the affable frontman, Brian Bell still exudes style on stage left, and while the rhythm of their songs isn’t overly complex, Patrick Wilson continues to provide solid foundations to the songs from behind the kit.
The double banger of Buddy Holly and The Sweater Song brought the audience back to life in a massive way. With singalongs and reminiscing aplenty, it’s most of the audience’s childhoods revisited in a matter of minutes. The audience participation song of the night, and general highlight of the night was undoubtedly Say It Ain’t So, with the volume of the audience vocals of a level usually reserved for what I would imagine Bon Jovi would receive. As “SAY IT AIN’T SOOO OHHHOHHH OHHHOHHH” was bellowed from all the way from the front row to the top of the hill, and Rivers belted out the famous guitar solo, the crowd were losing their shit at a rapid rate.
Complete with Rivers’ harmonica intro, In the Garage is another album track that has aged particularly well, as has the penultimate track Holiday, the only downer being that the audience was quickly realising that the album, and concert, was drawing towards its final stages. The magical closer of Only in Dreams reinforces why Weezer were such an important band to so many. Compared to the pop winners that glitter their career, Only in Dreams is an understated gem, which builds and builds to a running crescendo, and when Scott Shriner finished his final bass note and the band gathered for their farewell to the crowd, you realised that moment that what you had been waiting 16 years for had now been and gone, and all that was left was to celebrate an experience that for the best part of 16 years you thought would never happen.
As the time machine reset itself for current day, the crowd spilled out across the Botanical Gardens and pondered whether the next 16 years will be another Weezer-less time of their lives. As a celebration of their career, you would be hard-pressed to find a group of concertgoers more satisfied than they were that night. And in another 20 years, if I enter the time machine again and read over the memories created that night, how would I react? Probably with a wry smile, saying to myself, “I was there”.
(Photo By Andrew Briscoe)