Weezer Riff Like Metal Gods, Party With a Hip-Hop Star at Tour Launch

October 26, 2009 11:54 AM ET

Rivers Cuomo loves his job. It wasn't always so for the Weezer frontman, who was visibly wary of the spotlight in his earliest days on the Los Angeles music scene, even after he became a consistent craftsman of modern rock. But just weeks ahead of their newest album, Raditude, Weezer delivered a high-energy concert of flash and warmth at the Hollywood Palladium Saturday night, emerging onstage in resplendent white, hooded track suits, equal parts hip-hop and retirement colony, to thunder through 70 playful minutes of alt-rock and pop.

From the opening roar of "Hash Pipe," Cuomo both toyed with and reveled in the frontman role, hopping in place or muttering in German before "Pork and Beans" and then punching the air to shout a defiant lyric: "I don't give a hoot about what you think!" As the dreamy opening guitar from 1994's "Undone - The Sweater Song" unfurled in the old dance hall, the singer lifted a slogan from his heroes in Kiss to announce: "You wanted the best? You got the best. Weezer!"

For most for the night, the core quartet were joined beneath the winged "W" logo by Josh Freese behind the drum kit so Pat Wilson could slash at a guitar alongside Cuomo, bassist Scott Shriner and lead guitarist Brian Bell. They put the extra fire-power to work after a "Surf Wax America" sing-along by unloading heavy slabs of classic Black Sabbath riffage. Cuomo slouched with a black towel draped over his head, giving him the look of Ozzy Osbourne, while Bell and Wilson traded gloomy vocals on Sabbath's "War Pigs."

New songs from Raditude reached in other directions, from the bouncy riff-raff of "I'm Your Daddy" to a duet with Sara Bareilles on the danceable romantic pop of "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To." The band were joined onstage by rapper Chamillionaire (stepping in for Lil Wayne) and leaned hip-hop for "Can't Stop Partying" as Cuomo sang: "I can't stop partying, partying/I got to have the cars/I got to have the jewels . . . if you was me, you would do it too."

Weezer are fans, too. During "Photograph," the band dropped in Blur's excitable "Song 2," a sudden left turn that fit seamlessly into the Weezer sound. And before signing off with their '90s breakthrough hit "Buddy Holly," they played a medley of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" and MGMT's "Kids," Cuomo's boyish vocals making these slick, forward-looking tunes more personal, and much more Weezer.

Set List:
"Hash Pipe"
"Undone - The Sweater Song"
"Surf Wax America"
"War Pigs" (Black Sabbath)
"(If You're Wondering if I Want You To) I Want You To"
"Say It Ain't So"
"Why Bother"
"My Name is Jonas"
"Island In the Sun"
"Can't Stop Partying"
"Photograph"/Blur's "Song 2"
"I'm Your Daddy"
Pork And Beans"
"Beverly Hills"
Medley: MGMT's "Kids"/Lady Gaga's "Poker Face"
"Buddy Holly"

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