I’ve never had the chance to catch the B-52s live… ever. The band was not in town, except on days that I’ve been away. Hard to imagine for a band that’s had a 35 year career, but true nonetheless. Enter “With The Wild Crowd”, the band’s first ever live blu-ray – a 20-track career-spanning concert event in their hometown of Athens, GA.
Given that this concert marked the 34th anniversary of the band’s first ever live concert, the excitement was evident with the wig-wearing, boa-draped, glitter-covered fans who came from near and far to celebrate this historic concert and hopefully get caught on camera all glammed out. In a certain sense, this blu-ray was more about the fans than it was the live show.
In contrast to the albums, music videos and live YouTube videos, this was an aged B-52s proud of their history and enjoying the moment, but not near as wild and crazy as I remembered. The band was solid as a rock (Ski-doo-be-dop) and sounded perfect – even giving the older songs a very slight and subtle modern twist. Vocalist and master cowbell player Fred Schneider seemed reserved and almost too held back, moving very sparsely throughout the entire show and not interacting with the crowd as much as I’d liked or hoped for. Schneider does however, have a special charisma and charm that makes him the only man that could handle The B-52s lyrics. His Sprechgesang (a combination of speaking and singing) is like no other and remains the same after all these years.
The female vocal punch of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson are also flawless and timeless in this performance. Kate seemed the less reserved of the bunch, while Cindy appeared to get taken in with the music and floated with the sound.
Musically, it was all there – Private Idaho, Roam, Cosmic Thing, Love Shack, Planet Claire and the immortal Rock Lobster. Cranked up and watched on a big screen, it was like being there with all the glamsters in tow. Watch out, here comes a bikini whale!