Weezer : Manchester Apollo

...tonight is basically wall-to-wall classics...

Scratch the surface of any alternative guitar band and you’ll find a Weezer fan. From Fred Durst to Tim Wheeler, Rivers Cuomo’s godfathers of emo are routinely one of the most cited influences around. It’s not difficult to see why.

In fact it’s harder to believe that, despite having been around for over ten years, they’ve only managed to release three albums. For other bands those statistics might make filling and hour-and-a-half set a problem. Not so with Weezer. They’ve got a back catalogue – however truncated by returns to college – that means tonight is basically wall-to-wall classics.

So, with Rivers rocking a wild beard-and-white-cardie ensemble that makes him look like the kind of nutter your parents always insisted you avoid, effortless slacker-punk anthems like ‘Undone – The Sweater Song’ and ‘Surf Wax America’ are thrashed out in a manner that borders on the effortless. Meanwhile, ‘Photograph’ is submerged in doo-wops and melodies that most bands would kill to have written.

Weezer, however, are not resting on their laurels. Tonight, they debut a clutch of new songs from their forthcoming fourth album: ‘Dope Nose’ reiterates their commitment to gorgeous harmonies and frazzled noise, ‘Superstar’ is a discordant punk wash, ‘Burnt Jam’ is beautifully stoned and packed with Johnny Marr-style guitar flourishes and ‘Modern Dukes’ continues their flirtation with the kind of FM-rock soloing that’s seen MTV clutch them to their bosom.

Even more amazingly for a band with a reputation for prickliness that a cactus would envy, they look like they’re actually having fun too. While that might damn their status as original emo pin-ups, rather excellently, it does involve lowering a giant, illuminated Spinal Tap-style ‘W’ amid a royal wedding explosion of confetti, contrarily dispatching ‘Buddy Holly’ with a five-minute coda of squalling feedback, and splaying their legs wide for a colossal ‘Hash Pipe’.

When Weezer make even Ash seem like amateurs at this melodic noise-pop game, why anyone bothers with lightweights like [a][/a] seems beyond comprehension. After all, as those celebrity admirers know, the best stuff’s right here.

Jim Alexander