The B52’s make a rare appearance on Tyneside as part of their milestone 40th-anniversary world tour.
Despite having a career stretching back to 1976, tonight’s show at Sage Gateshead is, in fact, the legendary outfit’s first ever show in the region. This current transatlantic jaunt marks The B52’s first UK appearances since 2013.
Due to unprecedented demand, tonight’s concert has long since been sold out. Of course, many of the band’s die-hard fans have dressed appropriately for the occasion sporting outfits reminiscent of their favourite trio.
Although The B52’s may not have performed in the North East throughout their history, vocalist Kate Pierson did actually spend some time in the region during the ’70s where she worked in nearby Wallsend. During the course of the show, Pierson takes a moment to reflect on that time.
Without a new album since 2008, this evening’s show is very much a retrospective look back on the band’s forty-plus year career. The US-based outfit transports the crowd back to the early ’80s with their opening number “Private Idaho” and a mesmerising airing of “Mesopotamia”, which in turn sets the tone for the night ahead.
It’s always difficult for a group to win over the crowd in an all-seater theatre – it’s that old analogy that if you give people a seat they will sit. However, tonight The B52’s have no problem at all in that department; the whole room up on their feet from the very first note of the show – and the crowd doesn’t stop dancing for a second. And that’s not just those in the stalls, but also those in the two tiers of the balcony above.
The band’s theatrical antics, zany stage persona’s, feverish dancing and glittering back catalogue has the crowd captivated from the off. Fred Schneider’s voice perfectly compliments the superb vocal harmonies laid down by Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson. The trio comes together seamlessly throughout.
Both Pierson and Wilson wander into the spotlight mid-set as they take the audience through a harmonious rendition of “Legal Tender”, their up-tempo flip side “52 Girls”, and the psychedelic classic “Roam”.
As Schneider returns to the stage brandishing a pineapple, the group launch into “Party Out Of Bounds”. This seems like a rather fitting number for the many fans who spill out in the aisles to dance like nobody is watching.
It goes without saying that just like a line from one of the band’s hit singles ‘everybody’s moving and everybody’s grooving’, as The B52’s turn this majestic theatre into their very own “Love Shack” on Tyneside. And as expected, the aforementioned track closes out the band’s main set. This timeless classic still sounds as good as it did back in 1989.
A three-song encore featuring an out of this world performance of “Planet Claire”, the band’s frantic punk rock number “6060-842” along with debut single “Rock Lobster” brings tonight’s proceedings to its explosive conclusion.
Having been attending concerts at the Sage Gateshead since its opening many years ago, we’ve never witnessed a response to a show quite like this inside this impressive auditorium. It may have taken The B52’s over forty years to appear on Tyneside, but it was certainly worth the wait.
Event Date: 29-July-2019