BY TIM HINELY
It’s been a real pleasure to catch Devo in these recent years. This is my first time catching them here in the Mile High City (at the Summit Music Hall), but I did catch them twice in Portland in 2011 (3/16/11 and 9/16/11) after not having seen them for several years (my first Devo live show being 1982 for the Oh No It’s Devo tour and then caught them several other times in the later 80’s).
This tour brought along a bit of sadness as one of the founding members, Bob 2 (Casale) died earlier this year so the band was touring to help out his family with medical bills. A noble gesture to be sure but it’s not like Devo had ever been anything but noble.
The three other original members, Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh along with Gerry Casale were armed, once again with session drummer Josh Freese and this was being touted as the Hardcore Devo tour (after the two compilation releases that Superior Viaduct released earlier this year). It promised all of the early, subversive stuff along with some of the hits. The Spuds from Akron, Ohio (though having left long ago for the sunny climes of California) did not disappoint.
Gerry and Bob 1 were seated at the beginning of the set in the middle while Mark was stage left manning the keyboards and Freese was stage right, not behind the other two but drumming alongside. It was a perfect set up (sadly, the only thing missing was Bob 2) and if you were jonesing for one of the Hardcore Devo tour 2014 tour shirts they were wearing, no worries, for a mere $25 one could be had at the merch table.
They kicked into high gear like it was the mid-70’s all over again. Opening with “Mechanical Man” then lurching into other obscure, loping cuts like “I Been Refused” and “Auto Modown” (“Beehive,” “Midget” and “Freulein” were also knocked in there along with some other early cuts).
By the time the band changed into their blue jumpsuits it was later in the 70’s and they treated the sold out crowd to smokin’ versions of classic cuts like “(I Can’t Get No)Satisfaction,” “Be Stiff,” “Uncontrollable Urge,” “Gut Feeling” (yeah!!!) and plenty more.
Oh, you don’t believe me? How about “Social Fools” , “Timing X” and “Soo Balwz” (Yeah!!!). The clock then struck midnight (ok, so it was 10:30 or so) and it was time to exit stage left but encores were going to come hell or high water
…and the encores came and they included “U Got Me Bugged” and “Clockout” (dedicated to Bob 2 with a stand-in bass player).
The band left the stage again certainly giving the appreciative audience their money’s worth and then some. People began to exit, the stage lights came up (a little) and I think I even heard music playing and we waited. And waited.
Waited some more.
The rabid crowd was not to be denied and Devo came out for one more song, a killer version of “Mongoloid” before thanking the crowd (and Bob 2) and dancing off into the night.
The guys in Devo aren’t young and could easily rest on their laurels that encompassed 40 years of weirdness but they refuse to die. The oddball songs keep coming as do their opinions and ideas (de-evolution is alive and well in America) and the songs are still played with boatloads of energy and attitude. The way I hoped they’d be in 2014 they are. Yup.
In the photo above, the late Bob Casale is pictured second from left. He passed away on Feb. 17. R.I.P. good sir.