Nearly 45 years since the release of their debut album, the Tubes are still performing to this day. The San Franciscan band recently performed a show in Atlantic City, NJ at the Music Box in the Borgata. The band are currently on tour, performing their 1981 classic album The Completion Backward Principle in its entirety- along with other Tubes hits. While the Music Box venue wasn’t exactly a full house that night, this didn’t affect the quality of the overall experience as the Tubes still managed to put on a great show.
The band hit the stage a little after 9 pm, all dressed in gray colored business suits. Singer Fee Waybill was the last to come out, decked out in an all-white suit. For the next 40 minutes or so, the band played The Completion Backward Principle from top to bottom. Hearing the album performed live was quite the experience. For a decade or so now, dozens of classic artists have taken the plunge in playing one of their classic albums in its entirety. For the Tubes, The Completion Backward Principle was a good choice for the band to tackle. Released in 1981, the album led to band achieving mainstream success- featuring hit singles such as “Talk To Ya Later” and “Don’t Want To Wait Anymore.” All throughout this portion of the concert, the band performed the entire album almost note-for-note.
Of the five members of the band, singer Fee Waybill easily stands out the most. This is not only because he’s the front man but it’s also because of Waybill’s skills as a frontman. In the band’s early days, their shows were very theatrical- complete with costume changes, props and back up dancers. In the years after their commercial peak, the band have scaled down on the production- limiting it to just Waybill and his costumes. Even then, Waybill’s charisma and onstage personas are just enough to capture quirkiness and campiness of those earlier shows. With almost every song that was played, Waybill would change it up: a kimono and snorkel for “Sushi Girl,” a Hugh Hefner robe for “What Do You Want From Life” and (of course)- assless leather chaps for “Mondo Bondage.” Topped off with stage banter between each song, Waybill was a hoot to watch onstage.
Waybill wasn’t the only one that shined throughout the show. Guitarist Roger Steen was in fine form that night, playing some tasty guitar solos here and there. Steen even sang lead for “Up from the Deep,” a prog-rock cut from the band’s 1975 debut that’s typically sung be Waybill. Bassist Rick Anderson even got to the chance to sing a song, lending his vocals to a impressively fast cover of Arthur Lee & Love’s “7 and 7 Is.” Then there’s drummer Prairie Prince, who was impressive throughout the night. In almost every song played, Prince’s thunderous playing could be felt in the venue. After Anderson’s Love cover, Prince went into a hard-hitting drum solo- after which he received a well-deserved round of applause. While not prominently featured, keyboardist David Medd was also good- laying down all the electronic sounds needed in the songs.
If the show had any downsides, it would probably be the Completion Backward Principle portion. This is not to say that it was bad. Far from it. Going into the show knowing the band would perform the album, it did take the surprise away in knowing which songs to expect. When the band started playing their other hits, that’s when the surprise element came back. If there’s one thing that Tubes fans can always look forward to, it’s when the band performs their all-out glam rocker “White Punks on Dope.” During this part of the show, Waybill comes out dressed as an over-the-top English glam rocker named Quay-Lude. Decked out in spandex, feather boas and ridiculously high-heeled platform boots- Waybill leads the audience in singing what’s become the band’s anthem. While the song signaled the end of the show, the band came back for the encore to perform their 1983 hit “She’s a Beauty.”
Seeing the Tubes in concert is something that any concertgoer should experience at least once. While the band are better known for a few mainstream hits, their catalog of music deserves more recognition as they are a criminally underrated band. If the Tubes come to your town, make any effort you can to go see them.
- Talk To Ya Later
- Sushi Girl
- Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
- Think About It
- A Matter of Pride
- Don’t Want To Wait Anymore
- Power Tools
- Let’s Make Some Noise/Stand Up and Shout
- 7 & 7 Is (Love cover) (Rick Anderson vocal)
- Drum Solo
- What Do You Want From Life
- I Want It All Now
- Mondo Bondage
- Out of the Business
- Up from the Deep (Roger Steen vocal)
- Suffragette City (David Bowie cover)
- White Punks on Dope
- She’s a Beauty
- Talk To Ya Later (reprise)
I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.