“YOU might have read in some rag in England that we’ve gotten older since the 1980s,” complained Fred Schneider, one of the trio of singers who combine to make Athens, Georgia’s B52s one of the most vocally memorable groups to emerge from America during that decade.
“They said we couldn’t turn back the hands of time,” snapped Kate Pierson, voice as luminous as the fantastic bright-red dye-job on her hair. “But we’re younger than most volcanoes,” said Schneider.
It’s true the B52s don’t erupt with quite as much fire these days, but there’s something about them which remains eternally youthful. Partly that’s down to their irrepressible style, with Pierson sporting that dazzling hair and a black and white polka-dot skirt, and Schneider in rainbow-striped trousers and a shiny, metallic green T-shirt. Only the blonde Cindy Wilson, she of the unique Amazonian holler, looked sedate dressed all in black.
Perhaps the only element of their live show which did seem pale in comparison to the lurid, all-action height of their fame more than two decades ago was how little they moved about onstage, but with songs like these, who needs dancing when you’ve got others who can do it for you?
The show was sold out and the reaction at key moments suggested most were here for big, enduring hits like Roam, Love Shack and the signature horror rock grind of finale Rock Lobster.
Yet the rest of the show was a guided tour through the reaches of a diverse career which has stretched from punk to New Wave, from the surf growl of Private Idaho to the compelling beat of Dance This Mess Around and Wilson’s solo on the unexpected, Postcard-Records-meets-LA-soft-rock style of Girl From Ipanema Goes to Greenland.