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Pacific Panic: Weezer, Live in Manchester

26 October 2017, 00:17 | Written by Joe Goggins

A more cynical reviewer than this one might find meaning in Weezer's decision to play their UK dates in support of their new record at the same time as they're across the pond to do press for it - in other words, before it's even out.

After all, Pacific Daydream's back-to-basics, beach-pop sound feels like a definitive step backwards after last year's Weezer - or The White Album, to give it its Beatles-baiting name amongst fans - genuinely seemed to have heralded a new dawn after a run of albums that were met with, at best, a lukewarm reception. Ahead of the new disc's release on Friday, Weezer have rocked up with all of the greatest hits in hand. That's not unreasonable - after all, before they played the Academy down the road in April last year, they'd been missing in Mancunian action for over a decade.

Quite right, then, that they bring the curtain up with a scintillating hat-trick of golden oldies. Frontman Rivers Cuomo ambles onstage in a manner that suggests he might be feeling the effects of over two decades on the road - thankfully, he's clearly kidding. That's clear from the way in which he rips into a full-throated 'The World Has Turned and Left Me Here', and in which he follows it with high-energy takes on 'The Good Life' and 'No One Else'. Everybody knows that the LPs from which those songs were plucked - the self-titled 1994 'Blue Album', as well as long-standing critical darling Pinkerton - are the ones that, save for a dramatic turnaround in commercial fortunes, Weezer will be remembered for.

On that basis, then, this is a thoroughly crowd-pleasing set, with eight of The Blue Album's ten tracks aired. The Pacific Daydream material, a touch suspiciously, is relegated to a minor supporting role, and perhaps rightly so - 'Feels Like Summer' and 'Happy Hour' are both anodyne. The flipside of that - and one that might have Weezer fans marvelling at the speed of the group's latest decline when they do hear the new full-length - is that the cuts from The White Album are all rock solid. 'Thank God for Girls', 'California Kids' and 'King of the World' all come over as worthily infectious singalongs.

Ultimately, though, the long-starved Manchester Weezer faithful are here not just for the hits, but for the band's well-documented appetite onstage playfulness. Each member, for instance, takes a solo vocal turn on 'Pork and Beans'. For 'Beverly Hills', a song still unfairly scapegoated given what a good fucking laugh it is, Cuomo dons an absurd sombrero. What we don't get is the cover of Outkast's 'Hey Ya' that's been cropping up of late, which might be no bad thing given the considerable scope for it to be thoroughly objectionable.

That isn't, presumably, because of role constraints, and at £40 a ticket, fans might well be entitled to grumble about the fact that tonight's show fell short of the ninety-minute mark. Still, with 'Say It Ain't So' at its anthemic best in closing the main set and then 'Buddy Holly' serving as the one song encore, they'll likely have left in euphoric mood. The degree to which that's diminished on Friday, when Pacific Daydream drops, remains to be seen, but it will doubtless have an impact on he feasibility of Cuomo's most ambitious pledge tonight - to come back every year.

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