With their Pixies-inspired hooks and famed crazy energy, you’d assume that The Orwells would provide a blistering support slot. But sadly, tonight’s not their night.
Whether it’s down to a hectic UK tour – or because the Chicago quintet simply don’t want to be there – it’s all a little standoffish.
‘Vacation’ is the standout song from Feburary’s Terrible Human Beings, but the rest of the set is a bass-lacking affair that doesn’t hold much substance. The crowd are uninterested – and so, it appears, is singer Mario Cuomo, who exits stage before the final song, forcing the remaining four to pick up the pieces. The Orwells might be better as headliners, could ‘wow’ at a more intimate gig – but in the O2 Apollo’s vastness, they just don’t hold up.
Luckily, the night doesn’t end there. As the famous glowing ‘W’ is lowered down to opener ‘The World Has Turned and Left Me Here’, there’s mass screams as Weezer unassumingly walk onstage. There’s a sense of expectation from a crowd both young and old; here to promote eleventh album Pacific Daydream, it’s been a number of years since Manchester’s seen the Californian quartet.
Pints fly across the room as Pinkerton’s ‘The Good Life’ hits, Brian Bell laughing with glee as his stop-and-start riff commands fevered attention. There’s no still body to be seen as Patrick Wilson’s thunderous drums welcome in follower ‘El Scorcho’ – a defiant anthem that’s deafeningly bass-heavy, and all the more better for it.
Gleefully responding to the Mancunian chants, Rivers Cuomo is ecstatic. “These are my people!” he grins. “We’ve faced the fact that we don’t come to the UK enough, so we’re gonna come every year”. Whether its a true admittance or a crowd-pleasing statement, everyone cherishes Cuomo’s appreciation anyway. It’s also an unexpected (but hilarious) sight to see him imitate Liam Gallagher throughout the sampled opening of ‘Undone – The Sweat Song’, Cuomo zipping his jacket right up to his neck and holding his hands behind his back in that famed nonchalant fashion.
‘Surf Wax America’, ‘Island In The Sun’, ‘Beverly Hills’ – the classic hits just don’t stop coming. With a setlist this phenomenal, it’s at times unbelievable that Weezer are so adamant to make the crowd this happy. To cherish the newbies, too, Pacific Daydream’s singles go down a treat – ‘It Feels Like Summer’ being a particular highlight with Cuomo’s remarkably pitch-perfect vocals.
“I’ve got an electric guitar” lulls Cuomo, brandishing his instrument to the beat of evident fan-favourite ‘In The Garage’; ‘My Name is Jonas’ is another throwback that earns a similarly mental reception. With The Blue Album represented so graciously, the electric atmosphere doesn’t hold up once. But it’s not just their debut that’s come to party; The White Album makes a respectable appearance in the form of ‘King Of The World’ and ‘Thank God For Girls’, tracks from their strongest album in recent years that won back original fans worldwide.
Ever the lovable fool, Cuomo plays up to his famed ‘geek-chic’ stereotype, pottering around the stage awkwardly yet lovingly, unaware of his talent. And that’s the key to Weezer’s success. They’re insanely talented but humble with it – shunning that typical rock-star attitude to make them so fucking relatable to the masses.
The Green Album’s ‘Hash Pipe’ is up there with the best of them, Scott Shriner’s menacing bassline sublimely contrasting Cuomo’s highs; but it’s ‘Say It Ain’t So’ that’s the night’s glittering moment, Weezer’s best song commanding an emotional sing-a-long to hit die-hard fans right in the heart.
Returning onstage with a sombrero and his signature sticker-laden blue guitar in tow, Cuomo ends the night with the only obvious encore choice – ‘Buddy Holly’. As the final chord dies out, it’s no surprise that there’s tears. Manchester fans have been waiting a long time for this show – and Weezer have certainly delivered.