The geek-fest is in full swing in London tonight, but shouldn’t they have rehearsed by now?
After tonight’s not-quite-sold-out show at Brixton Academy, a young fan asks Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo for an autograph. Cuomo – at best a curious combination of Graham Coxon and Asperger’s syndrome – squints at the kid and says, “Remind me, what is my name again?” The young man, somewhat confused, tells Rivers Cuomo that his name is Rivers Cuomo. “That’s right,” replies Cuomo, “it is.” Then he begins to smile. “It’s coming back to me now,” he says.
Given this – and thousands of stories like it – it shouldn’t be a surprise that a Weezer concert tends to be unlike any other. For one thing, there’s the stage set, which might at best be described as minimalist. The famous Weezer ‘W’ hangs at the back of the stage and a handful of bulbs light the band. At least, after a fashion they do. Cuomo, barely visible, stands in the middle, 5ft 5in of oddness and brilliance. Almost entirely motionless, he says about seven words to those gathered before him tonight. At least five of these words are inaudible.
It’s best if you think of a Weezer show as a church service, or perhaps a gathering of the world’s most committed cult. Despite lukewarm reviews of their recent album ‘Make Believe’ and a press blackout to accompany the release, their audience remains faithful. This is the second of two nights at the Academy and outside the talk is of which tunes they will play and – perhaps more importantly – which tunes they won’t play. For the hour and 15 minutes the group are onstage, it takes no longer than a heartbeat for every fan to recognise each song Weezer unveil. The roof is lifted from the Academy every three or four minutes.
And what of those songs? The true appeal of this band lies not in the image, or the videos, or the stories about the frontman. The real reason for the addictive nature of Weezer is the music, songs that are often so fluently brilliant that all you can do is marvel at them. Tonight the band are able to throw out ‘Buddy Holly’ after less than 15 minutes and still not lose a moment’s quality later on. They’re able to play just three songs from the satanically perfect ‘Green Album’ – ‘Photograph’, ‘Island In The Sun’ and set closer ‘Hash Pipe’ – and not cause a riot. They’re able to charge 20-odd quid for the privilege of watching a band shamble through a set as if it were a practice session. This audience wouldn’t swap them for the world. Whatever their name is again.