To best review Weezer’s Memories Tour stop in Las Vegas, I have to go back in time to properly put the show in perspective…
It was probably February of 1995. My mom took me to the mall and I walked into the music store and bought Green Day’s Dookie and Weezer’s self-titled album (The Blue Album, we’ll just call it Blue) on compact disc.
I loved “Buddy Holly” and spent the next few months listening to it on repeat while largely ignoring the rest of the album. As Weezer enjoyed widespread success, they wrapped up promotion for the record and went off to record their follow-up album Pinkerton, which I failed to connect with until the summer of 1998 when I heard “Pink Triangle” on the radio and bought the album.
above: myself and Mikey Welsh, Yahoo! Outloud Tour, February 2001.
While I enjoyed a few Weezer tunes up until this time, I was mainly pre-occupied with Beastie Boys records and collecting Dave Matthews Band bootlegs. In June of 1999, a friend of mine insisted on listening to Pinkerton during a road trip and from then on, I was an absolute Weezer fanatic.
I went back to my neglected Blue and Pinkerton cd’s and tracked down every non-album song I could find. I gravitated to lead man Rivers Cuomo’s dramatic stories of frustration with girls, self loathing, and unrequited love. I celebrated the entire Weezer catalog, studied the liner notes, and absorbed whatever information I could find (not to mention cursing myself for missing coveted early Weezer shows in Knoxville). While I’ve always been a big music fan, I can’t say I really ever loved music until I got into Blue and Pinkerton.
above: myself and former Weezer bassist Matt Sharp in September, 2002
To my disappointment, Weezer had barely made a peep during the last two years aside from bassist Matt Sharp leaving the band. There was no information on a tour, upcoming album, or even a recent interview to read. Time passed with rumors and lies (Spin Magazine said Rivers had burned all of his master tapes and was bouncing a rubber ball against a wall most days), but eventually the band reconvened in March of 2000 to my extreme and sheer utter delight.
above: myself and Rivers Cuomo, July 2005
Unfortunately for myself and the legions of Weezer devotees, front man Rivers Cuomo hated, despised, and entirely avoided 80% of Pinkerton on subsequent tours. Regardless, I still attended as many shows as I could and prayed to God I would possibly hear a few songs that I so adore. Ten years passed and I never heard “Across the Sea”, “Falling for You”, “Butterfly”, etc, etc.
above: Rivdogg working the crowd at Bonnaroo 2010
Last summer I attended the Bonnaroo music festival and had a great time during Weezer’s set, even if it was packed with Rivers jumping on trampolines and wearing wigs during Lady Gaga covers. Amidst the exciting greatest hits set, I pumped my fists and sang along to recent singles like “Troublemaker” and “Pork and Beans”, but deep down I just wanted to hear the songs that struck such a resounding chord with me years ago.
Months later, the stars aligned and Weezer released a special edition of Pinkerton along with some never before-heard recordings and announced the Memories Tour where Blue and Pinkerton would be played in their entirety. It sounded too good to be true, but it wasn’t. It happened.
I booked a trip to Las Vegas to experience the spectacle for myself, and it was easily my favorite concert I’ve ever seen. Rivers ditched the wigs and random banter and the band ran through the records true to form. Even dressing the part, Rivers wore the same outfit from the cover of Blue, looking incredibly identical to his 1994 self.
The opening notes of “My Name is Jonas” rang out and I could feel nothing but nostalgic joy pulsing through the room. Of all songs, I got teary eyed during “In the Garage”. I really have no complaints during the Blue set, though I wish Patrick Wilson had played the drum climax during “Only in Dreams” true to the album. Trivial, but still that is one of my favorite moments on the record. Brian Bell was also visibly frustrated with his synthesizer which was plagued with problems throughout the night.
After ending Blue, Weezer’s longtime friend Karl Koch presented a slideshow of rare pictures and interesting stories to the crowd during intermission. It was great to see candid pictures of the band in the studio, as well as a few glimpses of the old Weezer house in West L.A. where the “Say it Ain’t So” video was filmed.
Weezer came back on after a break and ripped into Pinkerton with the excellent “Tired of Sex”, complete with blistering guitar solo. As the band worked through the album, I couldn’t help but feel so thankful to hear this record in its entirety. After ten years of attending Weezer shows I finally got to hear “Across the Sea” and sing along to the thrilling third verse of “Falling for You”. Also of note was “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” which had not been played since 1995.
above: Rivers and Pat rockin’ to Pinkerton. Rivers even had a Pinkerton costume change…
As Rivers wrapped up Pinkerton with the acoustic “Butterfly” – the band returned for an encore of the b-side “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams” with Rachel Haden on vocals. I believe they had only played this once or twice back in 1996, so it was thrilling to hear such a rare performance. The house lights went up and I walked out in amazement and disbelief.
above: Rachel Haden joins in the fun during “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams”