at The Sage, Gateshead, U.K., October 20, 2016

THE TUBES (Live at The Sage, Gateshead, U.K., October 20, 2016)
Photo: Mick Burgess

“Difficult choices need to be made” That’s a phrase so beloved of modern politicians these days and usually ends up meaning that we all get a pretty rough deal from whatever decision is ultimately made.

Tough decisions were certainly called for this evening, but the outcome for whatever choice was made was rather more enjoyable than those that come from Whitehall. With a smorgasbord of musical variety laid on including The Specials at the Academy and Goat at The Riverside not to mention the pairing of the legendary Motown legends the Four Tops and The Temptations in the main hall of The Sage, it was a tough choice. It was a choice however won by American theatrical Rockers The Tubes on this occasion.

Having last appeared in Newcastle in the late ’70s this was certainly a rare and very welcome opportunity to catch The Tubes within in driving distance of home. Their theatrical based show, heavy on parody and satire made them one of the biggest draws on the circuit alongside Alice Cooper and KISS.

Still containing four original members which is something of a rarity these days The Tubes certainly did not disappoint with their Mondo Pulp themed show.

After the short instrumental Overture set the scene, lead singer Fee Waybill ambled onto the stage in full on ’30s gangster attire for a romp through Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell before hitting the jugular with a the Funk driven The Monkey Time and Tip Of My Tongue which incorporated a cheeky snippet of Kool and The Gang’s Jungle Boogie. While all directions headed to the planet Funk, what better way to go than a stunning James Brown Medley with Waybill busting some snazzy dance moves.

Over the course of the show Waybill had more costume changes than Mariah Carey. During the snarling Mr. Hate he was enshrined in a strait jacket and for Turn Me On he had a medicine cabinet on his head. Yes, you did indeed read that right. Sounds bizarre in the cold light of day, but as part of the show, it worked.

The Tubes are something of musical chameleons and are impossible to pigeon hole. Throughout the night they touched on Funk, Hard Rock, Vaudeville, Punk, Pop. No two songs are the same.During Golden Boy, bedecked in leather as a tribute to Marlon Brando in The Wild One, Waybill fired out some potent Blues followed swiftly by an acidic take on Beefheart’s Gimme Dat Harp Boy.

The costume changes came thick and fast. One minute Waybill was the cheesy game show host, then a cowboy in sheepskin chaps then in some bondage gear but each change fit the nature of the song.

All of this would be pretty pointless however if the songs didn’t stack up. The Tubes however have a canon of supremely catchy songs from Amnesia to What Do You Want From Life that can stand alone from any of the visuals. Big hitters She’s A Beauty and Talk To Ya Later heralded in the video age and still sound fantastic today.

The Tubes also pulled out a rarity or two for the long-time fans meaning the classy ballad Love’s A Mystery was given its first airing since 1979 and was welcomed accordingly.

Arguably The Tubes most famous and popular character made a chaotic entrance for White Punks On Dope as Quay Lude, was the washed up Cockney Glam Rocker complete with 18inch platform boots, skin-tight silver suit and more curls than Vera Duckworth. Some bands are blessed with a song where the opening chord can lift the roof. This is that moment for The Tubes and the crowd went nuts.

With the aforementioned She’s A Beauty and Talk To Ya Later sandwiching a riotous cover of The Beatles I Saw Her Standing There bringing the show to a close, all did not quite go to plan. The band were clearly having a blast and the crowd were not ready for home so a quick on stage band meeting resulted in a thunderous romp through TV Is King which was the only time they’ve played this on this tour and indeed the first time in years. The Sage was truly honoured.

With Waybill last to leave the stage shouting “I love you Geordie people” you felt that he actually meant it and almost two and a half hours of pure entertainment later the tough decision had been made and it was absolutely the right one.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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