The Tubes Rock Arizona

by Kevin Wierzbicki

The Tubes - August 5, 2023 - Talking Stick Resort, Scottsdale AZ

It was a homecoming of sorts when The Tubes performed in the Grand Ballroom at Talking Stick Resort & Casino in Scottsdale; the band has deep roots in metropolitan Phoenix and they were called The Beans before they left Phoenix for San Francisco where they became The Tubes. Back in the day lead singer Fee Waybill used to introduce band members by what area high school they went to. Today only Waybill, guitarist Roger Steen and drummer Prairie Prince remain from the original band. At one point Waybill gave a shout out to Scottsdale, saying it was nice to be back where he grew up.

The show began with the band on stage playing the instrumental "Getoverture" without Waybill; when Fee strode on stage the song morphed into "Turn Me On" from the Remote Control album. It was a flashback to long ago when the guys performed "What Do You Want from Life" from their self-titled debut album, with Waybill noting that "We've been asking this question for 50-years now!" More than half of The Completion Backward Principle album was played, beginning with "Sushi Girl." The Tubes used to incorporate lots of theatricality in their shows but these days that is all but non-existent but Waybill did indulge in multiple wardrobe changes and on "Sushi Girl" he donned a kimono-like robe to go along with the song's Japanese theme. A take on "Amnesia" led into the funky "Wild Women of Wongo," before which Waybill announced it was "story time." Sitting down and holding a National Geographic magazine, Waybill explained how he took on the first name "Fee" (his real name is John Waybill.) It seems that a National Geographic with a photo of the King of Fiji on it caused a fellow musician to compare the royal's looks to Waybill's and he subsequently began using a stage name of Fiji Cranston. Ultimately Fiji was shortened to Fee and the singer began using his real surname in deference to his father. The story ended when the band went into the fierce chanting that begins "Wild Women of Wongo" with Waybill stripping down to a jungle suit costume reminiscent of something Tarzan would wear.

The show's midsection featured four cuts from The Completion Backward Principle: "Mr. Hate" where drummer Prince went nuts on his kit while bassist Atom Ellis laid down a heavy groove, "Matter of Pride," "Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman" and the melancholy "Don't Want to Wait Anymore." Before playing the latter song, which Waybill co-wrote with the band's late keyboard player Vince Welnick, Fee said he usually dedicates the song to Welnick. Now however, with band members Re Styles and Rick Anderson also having passed, he dedicates the song to all of them. For a take on the Leiber/Stoller "let's rumble" chestnut "Trouble," famously covered by Elvis Presley, Waybill appropriately put on a black leather jacket. It was favorites and hits from that point on beginning with super oldies "Mondo Bondage" and "White Punks on Dope" bookending a fabulous drum solo from Prince. "Mondo Bondage" was performed in the dark, as if in a sex dungeon, with the only lighting coming from a flashlight Waybill waved around. Waybill no long dresses up as glam rocker Quay Lewd to sing "White Punks on Dope" but his performance was as exciting as ever, causing the crowd to chant "white punks on dope" along with him. Two big hits finished the concert; "She's a Beauty" and "Talk to Ya Later" had the crowd on their feet, dancing and singing along. The Tubes have long been known for their consummate musicianship and everyone was on top of their game; Roger Steen played hot licks and solos throughout as did keys man David Medd.

The Tubes have shows scheduled through late October. Find a list of dates here.

The Tubes show was promoted by Danny Zelisko Presents. Upcoming Arizona shows from DZP include:

Chicago - Aug. 15, 2023 - Linda Ronstadt Music Hall, Tucson
Chicago - Aug. 16, 2023 - Findlay Toyota Center, Prescott Valley
Buddy Guy - Sept. 8, 2023 - Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix
Blue Oyster Cult - Sept. 21, 2023 - Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix
Samantha Fish - Sept. 26, 2023 - Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix
Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo - Sept. 27, 2023 - Mullett Arena, Tempe

For a complete list of DZP shows coming to Arizona and elsewhere in the country go here.

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