Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona, March 16th, 2002
As one of the most popular groups to emerge in the post-grunge alternative rock aftermath, Weezer received equal amounts of criticism and praise for their hook-heavy guitar pop. Somehow managing a potent mix of both the heavy power pop of arena acts like Cheap Trick and the angular guitar leads of the Pixies, Weezer build their songs in a manner similar to that '70s mode of metal played by groups like Kiss.
Weezer is distinguished as much as anything however by its incapacity to answer to any regular types. It's a slacker-geek type of group by image. None, least of all leader Rivers Cuomo with his lately-grown Charles Manson beard, look like rockers. The image is created of a bunch of college goers playing the songs they came up with when they're not downloading trivia and MP3s in college dorms. Their music as well as their stage moves suggest some of the geeky gaucheness but snarling guitars of Nirvana, with a Big Lebowski sense of humour in place of the angst. "Undone" is fired off tonight like a pizza cake too hot out of the oven. Crashing guitars and thundering drums fall all about. " "Buddy Holly," and "Say It Ain't So" meanwhile sound like powerful and mature rock songs however, standing alone when weaned from the clever videos Weezer singles became renowned for.
Cuomo leads the band with an iron grip, no doubt about that, making them into a vehicle for his quirky songwriting. Not entirely surprising, since he has been the band's primary songsmith after forming the group in 1993 with bassist Matt Sharp and drummer Patrick Wilson. Cuomo's control and the band's off-beat nature make it easy to see Weezer remains a club band. Its sound is arty and the delivery intimate enough for this. Indeed, the group made its bones in the competitive Los Angeles club scene, striving, like many others, in places like the Viper Room to succeed beyond the vacuum left by Nirvana's implosion.
It's difficult to appreciate just how long Weezer has been on the road. A large percentage of the crowd at this show seem to be here on the back of the Green Album, the band's May 2001 release and their biggest hit to date. Off that album tonight there's "Hash Pipe" and "Island in the Sun."
Guitar playing could be compared to painting, and Rivers Cuomo is a bit of a Claude Monet with his Fender. His concert closing riffs were indulgently doused in colour. Impressive impressionistic stuff evoking emotional shades and moods. While crediting the real fretboard fire in the closing pieces, only the anal-retentive chosen few could decipher a plot of 100 percent quality in Weezer's set. They've a few great songs, but revolutionary they ain't. Likeable and quirky, there's still time for this group to scale some higher peaks. I look forward to the next album.