Difficult to get fired up for a gig when people say “So what you doing tonight ?” “Going to Tenacious D” “OK, well tell me how it is, mmk ?”. The Tenacious D in this case however was not the recently released move starring the acoustic rock icons JB and Rage Kage, but in fact the ACTUAL acoustic rock icons themselves. Naturally, in Hammersmith – spiritual home of all that is METAL.
I expected a pretty big teen crowd, and that's exactly what happened. Not quite as bad as the Reel Big Fish gig back in Feb (where I reckon I was the oldest one there), but still quite a high pitched crowd. The “warmup” was a guy called Neil Hamburger, and he was so awful I won't even bother digging out a link. Nothing about this guy was funny, nor was it funny because it was so bad – just genuinely awful. Paul & I wondered whether The D hadn't put him out there to make their act look better.
Within minutes of the most lumpy guitar duo in the world taking the stage amid their childishly painted set/backdrop, it occurred to me – Tenacious D are just The Wiggles, but targeted at 15 year olds.
In fairness, they can give those guitars a fair hammering and their harmonies are nice & tight, but the overwhelming thing was the crowd's response: it really was that of a bunch of toddlers watching Murray, Jeff, Anthony and Greg/Sam (keepin it current !). There was much singing along, but accomapnied with the sort of crowd-surge-to-their-feet that you would expect teenagers to execute – i.e. if someone at the back shouts out “SIT DOWN” they shakily hold their ground then one by one pop back down again. The songs were well executed enough, however I recognised most of them, which suggested to me that The D haven't done much since about 1999 or whenever Tribute popped into our awareness.
The gig kicked off in Kyle's flat – a yellow interiored batchelor pad – and “storyline” was built around this, and the arrival of their friend Lee. The storyline served as a thin link between the subject matter of their songs, and pushed the gig into the realm of Pantomime Rock. I dig the band and all, but it's a little hard to take it anything close to seriously when sitting in a venue full of just-old-enough-to-shave youths making Rock Horns to a couple of guys rocking in front of a Fisher-Price interior.
“Kielbasa” rocked out (what a great lyric: your butt cheeks is warm), and the vibe was huge for Wonderboy (again, Shakespeare couldn't have said it: Not much to say when you're high above the mucky-muck). An electric guitar & beer accident catapults our heroes into Hell, where they form a band with the Antichrist on lead guitar, Charlie Chaplin on bass and Colonel Sanders on skins. And there was much more rocking to be done – strangely, it was even more pantomime, but the rock horns at least didn't seem as unfeasible.
Most of the rest of the gig just sorta happened – the kiddies were pretty impressed, although about the only thing which caused eyebrow movement from me was their cover of Queen's “Flash Gordon”.
Finishing up with the now obligatory encore was the romantic ballad-anthem, “F*ck Her Gently” (sung passionately by everyone in the room – very moving & poignant stuff). JB & KG drove it home with their best known hit, “Tribute”, which was also sung with empassioned gusto by the crowd. Possibly the highlight of the whole gig for me was this song, particularly the bit where they break into the acapella scat harmony bridge. Musically quite tight, but not when sung by 2500 tone deaf kiddies – like bad air guitar, only you had to listen to it. 2 and a half thousand part harmony. Magnificent.
It may have been my imagination, but outside the venue after the show finished I thought there was more traffic than usual – or maybe it was my mind's eye showing me a load of parents picking their now ecstatic and exhausted teenagers up. It was almost a blessed relief when Paul & I went into a pub and found it devoid of the little squirts. In exchange for insufferable kids, we instead found insufferable pissed adults. When will these people learn that alcohol and high heel shoes don't mix.