LIVE REVIEW: The B-52s, Sage Gateshead, 29th June 2019

The B-52s began their UK Farewell Tour at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Inhabiting Planet Quirky with the likes of Devo, Talking Heads and The Cramps, The B-52s, from Athens, Georgia, have carved out a career stretching over 40 years that has seen platinum albums and chart-topping hit singles. 

All things must come to an end sadly, and tonight’s show at The Sage was the opening night of their short UK Farewell Tour.

It was their first and last appearance in the North East, and what better way to spend a blazing summer’s evening than in the presence of The B-52s?

The B-52s began their UK Farewell Tour at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Within seconds of Private Idaho kicking into gear the audience rose in one collective mass, and remained on their feet, singing and dancing the whole night, and who can blame them?

The upbeat, funky beats of Mesopotamia and Funplex would make even the most reluctant attendee’s feet shuffle and fingers tap.

On Channel Z the band managed to stay abreast of current affairs by somehow shoehorning references to Donald Trump and Boris Johnson into the song.

The B-52s began their UK Farewell Tour at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Fred Schneider’s trademark talking/singing style, known in the trade as sprechgesang, hasn’t changed over four decades, and is a major part of the B-52s twist. 

With fellow originals Kate Pierson providing the higher, more quirky vocals and the impressively-beehived Cindy Wilson inhabiting the lower, more sultry zone, The B-52s still sound like nobody else.

Cindy Wilson of The B-52s at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Mick Burgess.

On Legal Tender, 52 Girls and the hit Roam, it was girl power all the way as Fred exited stage left for a swift cuppa before re-joining the fray for Party Out Of Bounds.

Pierson revealed her connection to the region – spending six months in Anson’s pub in Wallsend in the ’70s and recalled Old Mary from her days on Tyneside – a story that elicited a huge cheer of approval.

Kate Pierson of The B-52s at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Love Shack, such an iconic song from the ’80s, lifted the roof, while the punk rock thump of 6060-842 added a bit of punch before the perennial student disco floor filler and the song that started the whole ball rolling, Rock Lobster, sent the night off the scale.

Mick Burgess
mickburgess1999@gmail.com