Live Review: Devo Rip Through “Q: Are We Not Men?” and “Freedom of Choice” on Full-Album Tour

November 9th, 2009 by Barry Walters Leave a reply »

Photo: Walter/Getty
During their late-’70s and early ’80s heyday, Devo managed to be both extreme and mainstream: The Akron, Ohio quintet’s 1978 debut LP Q: Are We Not Men? We Are Devo remains one of the most lyrically and musically radical records to ever crack the Top 100, while their 1980 release Freedom of Choice helped pioneer and popularize both synth pop and dance rock with the breakthrough hit “Whip It.” But as trailblazing as these New Wave sociologists were in the studio, they were more severe onstage. So it’s no small feat that 30 years later they’re now presenting both albums in full during a seven-city tour, not only with their live intensity intact but their theatrical savvy as well.

While performing Friday and Saturday at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom, Devo’s original members resembled senior chemistry professors with strange double lives. Singer Mark Mothersbaugh, guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh, and guitarist Bob Casale are now in their late 50s; bassist Gerald Casale is 61, yet all four had the stamina of their considerably younger drummer, Josh Freese of A Perfect Circle, and managed to replicate their original choreography. After a pair of vintage videos, the musicians took the stage Friday night in their iconic yellow plastic suits for Are We Not Men’s opening track, “Uncontrollable Urge,” pivoting rigidly to the beat and peaking the song with the same robotic bunny hop they did in 1978. Their maturity made their movements even more surreal, and the demographically diverse crowd went nuts.

During the extended “baby baby baby baby” segment of their herky-jerky “Satisfaction,” Mark’s face turned bright pink as he spat every last endearment. While Gerald growled “Mongoloid,” Mark shook pompoms at the side of the stage, then pulled his ...

Article Source: Rolling Stone : Rock and Roll Daily


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