Pinkerton' Comes Alive at Weezer Tour Opener

Rivers Cuomo reclaims 'Pinkerton' — and cruises through the Blue album — on opening date of the much-anticipated mini-tour

November 29, 2010 6:15 PM ET

During intermission at Weezer's Saturday night show at L.A.'s Gibson Amphitheatre — the second, Pinkerton-centered night of the band's first pair of shows in the "Memories" tour — a slideshow of artifacts related to the album was presented. Naturally, the Rolling Stone page showing that readers had voted Pinkerton the second-worst album of 1996 won the most laughs. "At least we weren't Bush," said guitar tech and band historian Karl Koch. (Bush's Razorblade Suitcase came in at No. 1.)

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L.A., San Francisco, New York, Boston, and Chicago are the only five stops on the "Memories" mini-tour, in which the band plays their debut album the first night and Pinkerton the second, with each full-album performance introduced by a career-spanning retrospective set. (The band opened each night in L.A. with "Memories," the leadoff track from their latest album, Hurley.) During the hits set each night, Cuomo wore huge glasses, looking a little like Fred Armisen impersonating a middle-aged punk; he lost the specs for the second set, as if of rewinding the years restored his eyesight.

Rolling Stone's Rockstar Weekend Kicks Off With Weezer

On Friday, Cuomo at first ceded guitar duty to an extra lead player and wandered freely through the audience, crooning at length from chair backs in the rear orchestra, throwing water bottles and toilet paper rolls into the crowd, and generally behaving as he seems to think a rock star should. But for the "blue" album, Weezer reverted to original four-piece form, and Cuomo's guitar became a sort of anchor, as he rarely ventured from center stage. The album wasn't utterly thrilling run straight through — but the twin-guitar jam that was the eight-minute album-closer "Only in Dreams" made for a spectacular show-closer.

Review: Pinkerton (Deluxe Edition)

On Saturday, Cuomo was at first a tad toned-down. In the second set, Pinkerton's emotional wallop kept him loose, while the wall of amps served as a potent reminder of why Nineties-era Weezer fans might have been turned off by their favorite band seemingly veering into Smashing Pumpkins territory. ("The Good Life" took on a different meaning all these years later, with Cuomo reclaiming his most honest, least tongue-in-cheek and very loudest album.) This single-album run-through resulted in a series of climaxes, with the rest of the band eventually exiting as Cumo ended with "Butterfly." That ballad's anti-romantic candor is still jolting, and as it played, the stage's album-cover-art backdrop flew up, the rear stage doors parted, and the outside world behind the Gibson Amphitheatre became visible. The temperature inside the house instantly dropped as Cuomo literally let us see behind the curtain. For a nostalgia tour, it was a remarkably unburdened moment.

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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