“BRING out the giant hamster wheel!” said frontman Fee Waybill as a visual aid to Rat Race.
The Art School, Glasgow
There was a time when such an elaborate stage prop would probably have been on hand. Back in their seventies and eighties heyday, performances by The Tubes could be elaborate productions featuring dozens of dancers and acrobats and all manner of camp ridiculousness.
But surely nobody was under the illusion that these San Franciscan pomp-rockers have that kind of a budget anymore. “It must have been confiscated,” joked Waybill, as that hamster wheel never did appear.
That’s not to say The Tubes don’t still provide shoestring theatrical thrills on their 40th anniversary tour. Across an entertaining, if also at times patience-testing, two hours plus set we got Waybill in costumes from pervy detective (during a cover of Frank Sinatra’s This Town) to straitjacket-wearing asylum patient (Mr Hate) and smarmy quiz show host (What Do You Want From Life?). Come Mondo Bondage, he enthusiastically donned a thong and a leather mask and cavorted in the dark, illumination by a hand torch.
All of which felt like an elaborate primer for the trademark cameo, come The Tubes’ best and most noisily received song White Punks On Dope, by Waybill’s iconic alter-ego Quay Lewd, a New York Dolls-parodying whacked-out rocker dude in a peroxide wig teetering on stilt-like platform shoes with a bottle of something (whisky we learned, when he later took a swig) suggestively shoved down the front of his spandex trousers. A funny theatrical set-piece that need never be retired, given that it’s presumably about as cheap as it looks.
Seen on 09.08.15