The Tubes

Review: The Tubes Make Triumphant Return to Whisky A Go-Go

The Tubes, featuring original band members Fee Waybill (vocals), Prairie Prince (drums), Roger Steen (guitar), Rich Anderson (bass), and longtime keyboardist, Dave Medd, recently returned to the infamous Whisky A Go-Go stage for the first time in decades.

“We last played at the Whisky in 1977,” recalls Waybill. “It was right at the beginning of our career and we were a big deal in LA. We played there for two weeks., two shows a night. It was an incredible time!”

Always a memorable musical experience and visual spectacle, the Tubes, lead by their animated frontman Waybill, gave fans unforgettable performances. Fans reciprocated with their enthusiasm and their visible loyalty to a band that has never diverted from their creative authenticity.

“We have this connection somehow with the people that come to see us,” says Waybill. “It’s not just a band standing there playing, it’s like going to see a play. I’m doing 6, 8,10 costume changes for different characters, and I talk a lot. Sometimes it drives the band crazy when I go off on some kind of a rant, I’m just trying to reach people.”

The first hour was dedicated to performing, in sequence, their classic 1981 hit album, The Completion Backward Principle. Waybill went through multiple costumes and character changes, which included glam-rocking, stacked-heel vocalist Quay Lewd and punk parody Johnny Bugger. The band, sporting gray business suits, gave a flawless performance as they navigated from song to song with precision. Highlights included fan favorites  “Don’t Want to Wait Anymore” (their first Top 40 hit on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart), “White Punks on Dope,” “Mondo Bondage,” “What Do You Want from Life?,” “Out of the Business” and “I Want It All Now.” They closed out the show with an extended encore that included the songs “Talk To You Later,” “She’s A Beauty” and The Beatles' “I Saw Her Standing There.”

“We rehearsed for weeks before starting to tour this year’s Completion Backward Principal tour because we hadn’t done it for so long,” says Waybill. “We wanted it to be great for our fans.”

“This show really seems to work,” adds Waybill. “I love to play in small venues. It’s fun for us and a fun show to do. This is what it has always been about with The Tubes. We always try to connect with people. They’re going to get the songs they want to hear but they’re going to get a different kind of thematic presentation. It just keeps it fresh for everybody. So every time you come to see us it’s a different show.”

“We’re really fortunate to still be together and like each other and want to still do this,” says Waybill. “The gigs are just flooding in for next year, so there’s no time to rest on your laurels here.”

Following tonight’s concert, the entire band showed their appreciation by mingling with fans, signing autographs and taking photos. The coming year is going to be a busy one for The Tubes. They will be performing their own headlining concert dates as well as joining other legendary '80s acts on a tour throughout the US. There is talk of new material coming from the band.

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Photos by Rob Nagy 2019