By: Will Martin
80s sensations play through 2 albums in 2 nights in Toronto.
Bam. Devo. Fuck, what a lovely opportunity to see a classic band play two of their classic albums, and a lovely way to spruce up a Monday and Tuesay – two notoriously shitty days. First up on Monday was Q: Are We Not Men A: We are Devo! The Brian Eno-produced record is an absolute triumph, and to hear it played live in its entirety is an occasion not to be missed.
If man has indeed devolved, it’s damn hard to tell, as the album sounds mighty good thirty years down the road. Coming out in classic Devo jumpsuits and hopping up and down in unison at the end of the opening track Uncontrollable Urge, it felt like Star Wars and Jimmy Carter all over again (truly a better time to be alive).
I’m reluctant to apply labels like ‘post-punk’ or ‘new-wave’ because they’re simply better than that. It just sounds like Devo, and that’s all one can say.
For a band who looks fucking ancient, they sound as crisp and tight as they did in 1978, and play with the energy of – well something with quite a bit of energy – the Dyson, maybe. They are old though. Watching Mark Motherbaugh hop into the crowd and attempt to get back on stage with the assistance of a stage-hand looked terrifyingly like an orderly helping your father out of a seltzer bath.
And when they did rip off the jumpsuits, Gerry Casale struggled to get it off his ankles like an old man racing towards a prostitute. If anything though, the disconnect between sound and appearance only made it better.
Maybe it was the quart of rye, maybe it was the half-quart of mushrooms, but the first night seemed distinctly better. The second show lacked the same enthusiasm, as they seemed to be simply going through the motions for Freedom of Choice.
No matter, the songs were impeccable and Girl U Want is just brilliant no matter what.
All said, it was a: (insert Are We Not Men pun here).
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/the-arts/devo-still-kicking/.