B-52s at the NYCB Theatre At Westbury
NYCB Theatre At Westbury
Westbury, New York
November 13, 2013
The B-52s are acknowledged as one of the greatest party bands of all time. In fact, they are billed as "The World's Greatest Party Band." Touring now minus a member (Keith Strickland recently retired from touringbut will continue to record), the group currently is comprised of The Kate Pierson (clad in her customary fringe ruffled short dress over hot pants), Cindy Wilson (dressed all in black) and the inimitable, quirky one-of-a-kind frontman, Fred Schneider.
The trio and its amazing backing band (Sterling Campbell on drums, Paul Gordon on keyboards and guitar, bassist Tracy Wormworth and guitarist Kat Dyson) made its way to Westbury, Long Island and the intimate NYCB Theatre on a clear November evening. The venue which can be configured in the round with a rotating stage in its center, was set-up for a much more intimate half-round performance. As such, the stage remained stationary while the band played to the audience. With former staff members of the "World Famous WLIR" radio station in attendance, and an introduction by Larry The Duck (currently heard on Sirius XM satellite radio and formerly the drive-time jock on WLIR), the B-52s got right down to business.
Opening with the driving "Peter Gunn" baseline that found a new home in "Planet Claire," the party was on from the very first second of the performance. The party had started and Schneider quickly came forward and assumed the role of master of ceremonies. With a sly smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes, he said, "Let's lift back the curtain of time and hope you don't sneeze on the dust." The band then launched into "Mesopotamia" (with Pierson supplying the Egyptian dance moves). Between the ecstatic applause of the already frenzied crowd and just prior to the opening notes of "Dance This Mess Around," Schneider pressed the pedal to the metal when he quipped, "It's okay to dance. If you're here for South Pacific, it's next week."
Slowing it down so that Fred and Kate could take a break, Cindy came out from behind the bongos, strode toward center stage and announced, "This is dedicated to Ricky. We miss him. We've never done it before. It's from Bouncing Off The Satellites (Warner Brothers Records, 1986)" Her emotional performance on the beautiful "Girl From Ipanema Goes To Greenland" was stunning. Ricky, for the uninitiated was her brother, guitarist Ricky Wilson, who died from complications from AIDS in 1985 during the recording of the Bouncing Off The Satellites album.
Pierson then returned to the stage where she and Wilson harmonized on "Roam" (which reached number-three hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1990 and subsequently spent 19 weeks on the charts) and "Legal Tender." When Schneider returned the band again shifted into high-gear for "Love In the Year 3000," "Is That You Modine?" and "6060-842" (which Pierson introduced with a pithy, "This is a punk song.").
The main set concluded with joyous and dance-inducing versions of "Whammy Kiss" and "Love Shack" (with Wilson's "Tin roof! RUSTED!" ad-lib). The encores which sent the already frenzied audience over the edge of delirium featured "Party Out of Bounds" (with its opening scream of "SUPRIIIIIIZE!") and the inspired silliness that is "Rock Lobster."
While many of the stalwarts from the "golden age" of modern rock are content to sit back and count their money, or worse, phone it in nightly, the members of the B-52s bring it full force every night with an energy and enthusiasm that cannot be faked. The group performed witty and humorous songs from all facets of its careerfrom its debut album through 2008's Funplex (Astralwerks Records). What did these songs have in common? That's simplea no-holds barred sense of fun and an infectious danceable backbeat. The audience responded by singing along with Pierson, Wilson and Schneider and by dancing in the aisles and at the back of the theater. A good time was had by all. World's Greatest Party Band? Yep! You betcha... and the crowd, on its way out of the small venue definitely agreed.
Christine Connallon (view more concert photos)
[Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon].