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Concert Reviews:
The B-52's dance the mess around at SoundBoard

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, September 24, 2010

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DETROIT -- Those in the know appreciate the B-52's for their quirky songcraft, unusual guitar tunings and unique vocal harmonies. But most fans go for one reason only -- to have a good time.

And those who turned out for the group's concert Thursday night (Sept. 23) at the Motor City Casino's SoundBoard certainly did.

Even with its members in their 60s the B-52's upheld their reputation as a preeminent party band over the course of 80 minutes and 17 songs, from the 1986 rarity "Wig" to the frenetic favorite "Rock Lobster," along with five songs from the quartet's latest album, 2008's "Funplex." Aided by its three regular adjunct musicians, including Detroit-born bassist Tracy Wormworth, the group was tight and energetic, with frontman Fred Schneider circling the stage in typical carnival barker mode and Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson singing in otherworldy tandems and harmonies while a series of projections lit up a large screen behind the band.

The 52's delivered expected party anthems such as "Private Idaho," "Whammy Kiss," "Cosmic Thing" and "Party Out of Bands," but fare such as "Mesopotamia" -- with a shout-out to Detroit radio DJ the Electrifying Mojo, an avid supporter of the song -- "Give Me Back My Man," "Deadbeat Club" and "Roam" were reminders that the group offers more than just music to dance to. The newer songs, particularly "Ultraviolet" and "Hot Corner," fit well with their predecessors, and "Love Shack" was, as expected, a roof-raiser that succeeded in bringing the older-leaning and somewhat stiff SoundBoard crowd ("I guess you're just dancing in your seats," Schneider observed at one point) to its feet.

At this juncture, 31 years after their debut album, the B-52's are more mainstream than subversive. But, as Thursday's concert affirmed, that does not make the group any less fun to be around.

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