Weezer takes an emotional, gleeful jaunt down memory lane
When Weezer released “Pinkerton’’ in 1996, it was considered a failure by almost any metric. But for a generation of bands that formed in its endearingly awkward wake, Rivers Cuomo’s perfect document of imperfect longing served as a blueprint for the type of strident and yearning pop punk that was soon ascendant. By then Weezer had mostly moved on, with Cuomo, the band’s evil genius sentencing himself to an eternity of goofy hit-making penance.
As a result, many of the fans for whom “Pinkerton’’ remains the holy grail of modern emo promptly hit the eject button.
The musical canon has a way of self-correcting egregious oversights, however, as evidenced last night, when the band finally performed the album front to back at the Orpheum before a devoted crowd of relative neophytes and prodigal fans alike.
Acting every bit the charismatic front man he never was, Cuomo bounded about the stage and into the audience for the opening set, ushering fans on a greatest-hits jaunt down memory lane. “Are you ready to take a ride on the Weezer time machine?’’ he asked. Yes please.
Counting backward by album, the band ripped through notable singles from each era, with even the loathsome songs of latter vintage like “Hash Pipe’’ infecting malcontents with glee. Early B-sides like “Suzanne,’’ sung from the middle of the audience, were dreams come true for vintage deep cut hopefuls.
An intermission slide show of old set lists, “Pinkerton’’ recording session photos, show flyers, and a Rolling Stone article calling “Pinkerton’’ the second-worst album of the year set the stage for the main event.
Befitting the album’s sharp shift in tone, the band throttled efficiently through the emotional peaks and dejected valleys of the record without a word. The outsider anthem “El Scorcho’’ inspired a thundering sing-along, as did everything else, really, but nothing more so than the thematically resonant “The Good Life.’’ “I wanna go back, and I don’t even know how I got off the track,’’ Cuomo sang in harmony with the crowd.
The night was a step in the right direction.