Tenacious D At The Sydney Opera House

It Seemed Even They Couldn’t Believe They Were There

I’ve seen Tenacious D live before. They were supporting the Foo Fighters. I’m trying to think of  international acts I’ve seen twice and the list is actually bizarre:

  • Yes
  • Foo Fighters
  • Jon Anderson*
  • Phil Collins*
  • Tenacious D

And that’s it. I’ve seen Pink Floyd once, Genesis once. Led Zep – never. Almost saw Jason Bonham tour with his Led Zep cover band but he cancelled the Australian leg of the tour. Never seen King Crimson. Didn’t see the Who because it seemed really hard to call Pete & Roger & hired hands ‘The Who’. I wish I could see King Crimson – that would make my year.

The asterisks next to Jon Anderson and Phil Collins are there because I’ve seen both gents as part of their band and as solo acts. The most understandable is Yes, at the top with a bullet and it’s only twice because they’ve only toured twice in the last 45years.

The Foo Fighters is weird. The only reason I saw them the second time was because Tenacious D were playing support. So I must really like these guys.

What’s Good About It

It’s Tenacious D. Of course they’re Awesome. Everything about them is awesome. They even tell you this is so. It was all good.

That being said, there were some unexpected stand out moments. They do a quick cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock’n’Roll’ The first verse was sung in a low register that exposed the blues roots of Zeppelin, but the second verse is sung with a falsetto that actually sounded like Robert Plant. It was amazing. They also did a cover of ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ and ‘The End’ by the Beatles that was a show stopper.

Jack Black is an amazing vocalist. Kyle Glass is an amazing guitar player. Between the two of them, they obliterate the need for the rest of the band. It’s a great night of entertainment

Speaking of which, even the comedian who kicked off the support was great. Very funny man with some sharp insights, fully deserving to be aired in the Sydney Opera House.

What’s Bad About It

This is the tough bit. I don’t think they were quite as energetic and clownish as the last time. I could do with more clownish physical comedy. Also, the gag where they fight and Kyle leaves the stage, setting  the stage for ‘Dude I really miss you’ wasn’t done as well as the previous tour. The artifice felt forced. But that’s trivial. It was a thoroughly enjoyable show.

What’s Interesting About It

The Jack Black rock-buffoon persona is actually quite a work of performance art. I’m not sure  when the first time was that I saw Jack Black on screen and noticed. It must have been  ‘Mars Attacks’ or ‘The Jackal’. It’s really only since ‘High Fidelity’ that we’ve been graced with his “Musical Moron” rock persona that has segued into ‘School of Rock’ and the ‘Tenacious D’ movie. He is a superb singer, a delightful comic actor and author of some kick ass songs.

Somehow he sews together these diverse talents and presents to us the Jack Black rock buffoon persona as his pristine rhetorical device to critique contemporary culture, through rock music. It’s an interesting rhetorical structure because not since has Spinal Tap has there been such a forceful satire of rock music that has also been embraced so tightly by the rock audience.

The irony of two middle aged guys with steel string acoustics claiming to to be the world’s greatest rock band underscores a mordant wit that finds its target in sexual mores to self-help to enlightenment and religion. The catalogue of songs they bash through is like an Odyssey of post-modern neuroses (and faulty self-examination) that culminates in their encore song finale – and sublime masterpiece of idiocy – ‘Fuck Her Gently’.

The Closest Thing I Could Think Of

…was ironically Jon Anderson live at The Factory. Except Jon Anderson is the author of first order texts where Rock’s foundational beliefs are laid out in song. Then along come these two jokers and create a raft of second order texts that mercilessly parodies the metaphysical and social content but in actual fact the most similar show I could think of was Jon Anderson cracking jokes in between bashing out songs on his acoustic.

Rock’s come a long way in a short time. The two Tenacious D members are laden with Generation X cultural baggage, which is in a sense, the result of trying to make sense of the inherited wisdom from the first order texts from the Baby Boomers. It’s not surprising the deliberately garbled bad information results in fine comedy as presented by Jack and Kyle.

You can sort of see how I end up seeing Jon Anderson and Tenacious D live twice.

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Filed under Pop, Rock

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