"The future is now," Fred Schneider deadpanned towards the end of the B-52's set at Pennsylvania's Sands Bethlehem Events center on Tuesday night (July 17). And in a blur of multi-hued stripes (Schneider, guitarist Keith Strickland), magenta (singer Cindy Wllson) and black fringe (singer Kate Pierson) shimmied into 2008's "Love In The Year 3000," whipping the already-on-it's feet crowd into an even more furious bout of dancing. Schneider was telling the truth. For the B-52's, celebrating its 35th anniversary via this U.S. tour with Squeeze, the future -- that garish, fun, retro b-movie version of the future -- has always been now, no matter how many years have gone by.
The veteran Athens, Georgia quartet read this party-ready Pennsylvania audience just right, delivering a frug-friendly blend heavy on classics from its earlier days -- "Whammy Kiss" ("one of our world famous ballads," Schneider joked about the manic tune), "Private Idaho," "Mesopotamia" and especially the Pierson-led space odyssey "Planet Claire" -- and its latest days. The B's got bodies moving just as easily with tracks from 2008's "Funplex," including the title tune, "Too Much To Think About," and the goofy-erotic "Love In The Year 3000."
Of course, an easy-going "Love Shack" and early-in-the-set "Roam," both from the band's most successful album, 1989's "Cosmic Thing," went over well. But in the end it was 1978's "Rock Lobster" that sent the ample crowd into a frenzied in-the-aisles, crowding-the-stage dance party and capped the hot summer night with a good, beachy beat.
To be fair the B's hadn't ruled the audience alone. Sharing equally in the night's old-school rocked-pop fun were Squeeze, who may have played first but who delighted just as well with much-loved hits "Tempted" (which involved a big a cappella singalong), a frenetic "Hourglass" and "Pulling Mussels From A Shell" as with newer songs like the ska-inflected "Top Of The Form" and the mid-period, country-tinged "Melody Motel."
Squeeze's entertaining hour-plus set came complete with drummer Simon Hanson popping up around the stage commandeering a cowbell during "Goodbye Girl" and the world's youngest Squeeze fan (a kid named Max of no more than 10) getting to come onstage to play guitar on "Slap And Tickle." Still, clearly, the key draw of Squeeze was the interplay between founding members Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, the latter of whose able tenor upped the evening's ante even more.
- Live