Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Devo

Carling Academy, Glasgow
4 stars
As art-rock pranks go, Devo’s marriage of stylised sci-fi geek chic and turbo-charged new wave power pop was a cartoon riot of high-concept bubblegum satire that laughed at itself as well as the system that spawned them. 35 years on from the band’s initial grouping in Akron, Ohio and touring for the first time in 15 years, despite advancing years, Devo remain a thrilling mix of performance art as pop song that the likes of Chicks On Speed have appropriated wholesale but without any of the tunes.

Clad in trademark yellow boiler suits and Bill and Ben ‘energy dome’ hats (only £18 at the merchandise stall), Devo’s retrograde cod-philosophy of de-evolution, which acknowledged man’s ongoing backward slide during the Nixon and Reagan eras, has, in the Bush administration, unwittingly found its time. Musically, too, strip away the outfits and self-conscious quirks as the band themselves gradually disrobe to a shorts and t-shirts combo, and Devo’s analogue synth bleeps and taut, stop-start guitar anthems sound utterly, adolescently now.

The live routine itself has barely changed as, lined up in a row at the front of the stage, for 75 breathless minutes Devo power through their greatest hits with such none-stop twitchiness as to suggest they’re running on long life batteries. When the energy domes are removed, the band’s now visible grey hair only accentuates their oddness. They may not be that much younger than The Rolling Stones, but Devo’s version of Satisfaction remains a classic rock and roll deconstruction.

There’s something triumphal about Devo’s revenge of the nerds routine, and when vocalist Mark Mothersbaugh returns for the encore as overgrown infant Booji Boy to sing Beautiful World, Devo’s mission looks wonderfully complete.

The Herald, June 26th 2007

ends

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