B-52’s & The Members: Manchester Academy – live reviewThis photo and all others on here by Alex Staszko

B-52’s & The Members

Manchester Academy

13th Aug 2013

Louder Than War’s Alex Staszko reports back from what, for him, is the gig of the year so far.

It’s been 5 years since the B-52’s played a hit laden set in Manchester. I thought tonight’s gig would be the same, but no, it was a set laden with obscure album favourites, and the crowd loved it, so did I. I did consider writing a review that just said-

B-52’s & The Members: Manchester Academy – live reviewWOW! Fucking brilliant, gig of the year!

But in the end I thought I could do a little better.

The openers tonight were old punk band The Members, who had one big, classic hit “Sound Of The Suburbs” in 1978, which was played as set closer tonight. They were already on when I arrived at 8pm, the first couple of songs washed over me, it wasn’t until they played reggae tune “Offshore Banking Business” that they started to win both the crowd & I over, even though it was a little short tonight (the original 12” clocked in at over 6 minutes). We got a band introduction from lead vocalist JC Carroll & it was then I realised the drummer at the back was Rat Scabies, doh! Amazing as a drummer Rat is, his talents do seem a little wasted on a 30 minute support slot. After “Offshore Banking Business” the set picked up somewhat, a great elongated take on debut single “Solitary Confinement” which the crowd love, & A big US hit “Working Girl”. Track “Sound Of The Suburbs” is introduced by JC with the words “the people in the city think they own it all”, quite fitting really. The song ends with a near standing ovation (except the crowd are already standing). Who would have thought that The Members would have gone down so well with a B-52’s audience? After I wrote this I checked out their tour dates & at one point their schedule read, Wigan, Kiev, Minehead, I challenge any band to better that!

So, on to the main act, whose set was not exactly full of all the hits, “Planet Z”, “Good Stuff”, & “The Flintstones” are all missing. Not that I’m complaining – I prefer the more obscure stuff.

B-52’s & The Members: Manchester Academy – live reviewSet opener, debut single (US only, for pedantic people only), “Planet Claire” has male lead vocalist, Fred Schneider marching round the stage like a demented alien, whilst dual female vocalists, Kate Pierson (the red haired one) & Cindy Wilson (the blonde one), stand behind small percussion set ups still looking as fabulous as ever. Kate sings the ahhhh, ahhhh, ahhhh bit that is normally on keyboards & it sounds fabulous. This wasn’t a big song over here, unless you were in The Hacienda in 1982/83, when it was played all the time, & it gets an amazing standing ovation at the end.

This sets the tone for the rest of the night, with song after song being danced to by the 1800 in The Academy (note to promoters, if you want a full venue, don’t charge nearly £40 including booking fees for your tickets).

We get “Dance This Mess Around” from the first album, in which the audience are invited to dance like crazy, & indeed they do. The 3 singers do actually perform all the 16 dances mentioned in the song!

We also get softer, slower songs like “Roam”, which has the most wonderful female harmonies from Kate & Cindy, and it’s to die for! “Another slowy, Girl From Ipanema Goes To Greenland” from 1986’s lesser known “Bouncing off the Satellites” shows off Cindy’s solo vocal talents well.

“Mesopotamia” has the band doing the old music hall Egyptian sand dance and along with “Java” has the audience dancing round like crazy. As well as the 3 original members they have a tight backing band (guitarist Keith Strickland has recently decided to stop touring), rhythm section, Sterling Campbell & Tracy Wormworth, along with Paul Gordon on keyboards & guitar, & newest member Nick Glassley on guitar.

B-52’s & The Members: Manchester Academy – live review

From start to finish it’s a joyous experience, through lesser known songs such as the danceable “Whammy Kiss” (which unfortunately breaks down shortly before the end) & “Legal Tender”. All the way  though to set closer, & biggest hit, “Love Shack” (I’m sure when it was written they never thought it would spawn a bad nightclub of the same name in Ashton-Under-Lyne).

After a short wait and much applause we are treated to 2 early songs, “Party Out Of Bounds”, & debut UK single & hit (& the first single I ever bought, so it’s their fault I’m a music fan) “Rock Lobster”. Indeed both are great, & the 3 people who have been waving the 3 inflatable lobsters all night go mad, a fitting end to a fine evening.

Just don’t wait so long to come back & don’t charge so much money to get in.


Planet Claire


Private Idaho


Dance this mess around

Girl from Ipanema goes to Greenland


Legal tender

Love in the year 3000

Is that you, Mo-Dean?


Whammy kiss

Love shack

Party out of bounds

Rock lobster

The B-52’s tour continues into Germany after the UK stint, & The Members continue touring for the rest of the year.

See a full photo gallery from the show below.

All words & pictures by Alex Staszko. More writing by Alex on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. 

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  1. Excellent review as always , Alex , i was stood next to you and agree entirely – they were not on long enough and 40 quid is a rip off for just 70 mins – but they were great , if not as good as the first time I saw them – at the Factory in 78, ah well
    here’s some evidence…


  2. Great gig by both the Members and B52s and I too loved it that they played lesser known songs. I’m listening to the song intro and say to myself bloody hell it’s Legal Tender. Then Fred shouts out 6060 842 and the audience goes bonkers including me. I wonder if I will ever see them again. But based on that gig it was one hell of a way to bow out

  3. The fact I only saw the B52’s gig advertised two weeks prior, by accident, meant I had to be there.What a fantastic event and part of my memory that will not be forgotten.
    Great playlist and what a quality performance.I think the £38 we paid was worth every penny and more and I feel for those who didnt go because of the cost of the ticket….their loss.The fact the hall was not full didnt dampen the gig.The atmosphere was electric and the mixed and varied age range of the audience were up for a great gig.
    The B’s have made a 50 year bloke very happy and contented because I have followed these from the70’s and seeing them perform some of my favourites was brill.
    The Members were a great and unexpected bonus and did a great set.
    Heres wishing the B’s and the Members best wishes for the rest of their tours. and again thank you very much
    Also, great review by that Alex bloke.I think he captured the vibe of the gig and the audience in a precise way.


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