London WC1 Astoria

Tonight, the brothers [a]Ween[/a] and co 'do' a stadium-rock extravaganza...

There aren’t many bands you’d willingly spend three hours and 30-odd songs in the company of, but, then again, there aren’t many bands who sound like a different group for every single song. Since solvent-sniffing teenhood, Dean and Gene Ween have crawled about rock’s every generic twist, playfully exaggerating every grotesquerie until only a loving caricature of rock’n’roll, dripping with dopehead wit remains.

Tonight, the brothers [a]Ween[/a] and co ‘do’ a stadium-rock extravaganza, albeit within cramped confines. The number of ‘costume changes’ the band get through are enough to give you the musical bends, but they play them all with a mastery born of a dedicated fan’s passion. Whereas Zappa soured his pastiches with misanthropic humour and a dismissive jazz-man’s snobbery towards rock, [a]Ween[/a] glory in its every peak (and, of course, trough).

So, even if ‘The HIV Song’ (cowpunk splatter with a yelled “Aids!” for a chorus) are just not funny, they are countered by the genius of ‘Doctor Rock’ (spandex-perfect Van Halen circa ’82), ‘Voodoo Lady’ (lounge funk-rock) or ‘Don’t Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy)’ (gonzo prog-Prince), lurid lampoons that throw some pretty wicked shapes of their own. So, who knows who the joke’s on, or even if it is a joke; [a]Ween[/a] are nerdish scholars of rock who certainly didn’t fail this practical examination.