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Just what you needed: First Cars concert review in 24 years

The Cars/publicity photoThe Cars are back together with a new album and short tour planned for the U.S. Sadly, none of the dates are even remotely near the headquarters of Stuck in the '80s. But we're in luck because Travis Greenwood caught their show Tuesday night in Seattle. Read his review below, and catch more of Travis' writings at It Goes to 11 at Founditemclothing.com, the website for tees from the reel world.

"Is there anybody here that doesn't know this is our first show in 24 years?" mused Cars' keyboardist Greg Hawkes between songs Tuesday night at Seattle's cavernous Showbox Sodo. The question, posed rhetorically but voiced with a hint of genuine inquisitiveness, was met with thunderous approval from an adoring, sold-out audience — drawn almost equally between children of the late '70s/early '80s and a younger generation of enthusiasts that had come of age in the years after the band went defunct — eager to welcome their New Wave heroes back into the fold.

Not that the quartet would disappoint. Its signature sound — a blend of crunchy, power pop riffs braided to synth-y accents — and original line-up largely intact (sans bassist Benjamin Orr, who passed in 2000), the group toggled between its deep catalog of party faves (Good Times Roll, My Best Friend's Girl, You Might Think) and selections (Blue Tip, Hits Me, Keep on Knocking) from 2011's Move Like This, their first studio recordings since 1987's Door to Door. The legacy material registered the loudest ovations over the course of the band's 80-minute set, but the newer tracks, imbued with twitchy, alt.-rock textures, were also well received, providing a welcome buffer against what could have otherwise been a self-congratulatory exercise in nostalgia overload.

And the love, it should be noted, was reciprocal. The band's individual members, pushing into their 50s and 60s all, were surprisingly gracious and thankful, stopping occasionally to smile, wave and chit-chat with the audience. Even Ric Ocasek, the band's notoriously aloof frontman, seemed to be enjoying himself, a fact not lost on the hardcore fans in the venue. Adorned in black Ray-bans and a shaggy, rock star hair cut, he loomed over the stage as the lanky progeny of Skeletor and Lou Reed.

The band chose not to replace Orr on this tour, forcing Hawkes and Ocasek to juggle extra responsibilities on a few songs. This led to a speed bump on Moving in Stereo, when the players couldn't quite sync their parts, all of which prompted this mulligan from a bashful Ocasek: "Do you mind if we do that one again?" Finding their proper gear once more, the band closed out their performance with an improved, spot-on rendition, proof that the good times really can roll again. Retreating backstage for a quick pause, The Cars encored with Sad Song, the first single from WLT, and a perfectly perfunctory version of Just What I Needed, a seemingly perfect coda to the evening's festivities.

THE CARS 2011 SET LIST: 

  • Good Times Roll
  • Blue Tip
  • Since You're Gone
  • Up & Down
  • My Best Friend's Girl
  • Hits Me
  • Touch & Go
  • I'm In Touch With Your World
  • Keep On Knocking
  • You Might Think
  • Drag On Forever
  • Free
  • I'm Not The One
  • Heartbeat City
  • Let's Go
  • Moving In Stereo
  • Moving In Stereo (Redux)

Encores:

  • Sad Song
  • Just What You Needed

[Last modified: Thursday, May 12, 2011 5:05pm]

    

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