Some bands always seem to fly just under the radar much of their careers, with some varying success of album sales or tour popularity. Quite possibly the greatest example of such is the quirky but talented group known as Ween. Now in their 25th year making music together, Gene and Dean Ween have managed to create some odd and unique albums since their emergence in the late 80s/early 90s, but more importantly have managed to tour with extreme purpose and have gained a loyal following that crave their incredibly intense live concerts. Even after so long together, Ween still perform their shows with unbridled energy and fortitude.
This Halloween, Ween displayed evidence of that when they came to the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, CO and threw down three straight hours of rock n' roll madness. The unofficial holiday is perfect for this band, as they are typically viewed as a bizarre, oddball act drawing legions of freaks to their shows. And the freaks were abound this evening for sure.
Approximately 4000 eager fans showed up to witness Ween in action, and of those about 85% donned their finest costumes to celebrate the festive day and this unusual band in proper style. Multiple takes on Alan (Zach Galifianakis) from The Hangover, Chilean miners, robots, slutty school girls, as well as various song references ("bananas and blow") shuffled about the venue, soaking in the friendly vibe.
In good form, Gene and Dean along with their talented band mates Dave Dreiwitz (bass), Claude Coleman (drums), and Glenn McClelland (keys) joined in the fun and graced the stage around 8:30 in giant bunny outfits. The five giant "furries" couldn't help but take turns pseudo-screwing their band mates while the audience roared with excitement.
Immediately following the mating session the band officially started the party and ripped into a fitting rendition of "Fiesta". The boys continued with two gems off their 1992 release Pure Guava, "Don't Get Too Close (2 My Fantasy)" and "Touch My Tooter".
Soon after these songs the majority of the group ditched the bunny outfits, due to the fact they were obviously too hot to wear on stage. Gene revealed a pink-dyed hairdo as flamboyant as his on-stage presence; while Dean stated "I think I'm having a heat stroke in this thing" (he powered through it and kept it on the rest of the show sans the giant head). One can only rock so hard in such costumes before comfort becomes a factor, and the same can be said about the audience who were obviously working up a serious sweat as well.
The first hour of the concert continued with spirited versions of "Take Me Away", "Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)", and "Voodoo Lady"; all culled from their popular studio album Chocolate and Cheese. Soon after fans were also treated to some of their more recent tracks "Your Party" and "With My Own Bare Hands".
Hour two continued to traverse through their large catalog of originals, and the band showed no signs of slowing down. A rollicking "Gabrielle" gave way to the concert favorites "Piss Up a Rope" and "Reggaejunkiejew"; all before the band launched into arguably the most fun song of the evening.
Gene told the crowd they had a very special guest joining them for this number, and asked everyone to please welcome to the stage "Mr. David Bowie". The band, and the crowd, looked towards the backstage but of course nobody came out. Gene proceeded with the joke by saying "What? You want me to do it dude? OK, here it goes", at which point the band launched into a dead-on and fiery version of Bowie's smash hit "Let's Dance". And yes, everybody in the place did just that and sang along to this 1980s pop classic.
Some odder tunes slowed things down a bit before the band revved the crowd back up with some of their most popular songs to start off the third and final hour of the night. The Caribbean-laced, Buffett-esque "Bananas and Blow" shook the house while versions "Booze Me Up and Get Me High" and "Push the Little Daises" had the entire audience singing along.
"Roses Are Free", an original that sometimes gets mistaken as a Phish song due to its heavy rotation as a cover in their live shows, also reared its beautiful head and was played with exuberant flair. With this performance, Ween officially reclaimed that song as their own. It segued into the set-ending tunes "The Mollusk", "Dr. Rock", and the explicit Irish drinking-style ballad "The Blarney Stone".
The band took a short break before returning for a 4-song encore. Their choices did not disappointment, as they executed perfect versions of the concert staples "Mister Won't You Please Help My Pony?" and "Freedom of '76", before launching into the oddly fun "Stroker Ace".
The final song of this monstrous evening of music was the jam-heavy and Prince-inspired "L.M.L.Y.P." (Let Me Lick Your Pussy). The evening culminated with this 15-minute blues/funk vehicle, highlighted by Dean's filthy, wailing guitar solos. The group even invited a bevy of female beauties from the audience to join them on stage to boogie down and show off their stuff.
From start to finish, this was three hours of pure joy. Even after a quarter century together Ween continue to impress during their concerts. Their live performances are mind-blowing, and the energy and command of the audience is matched by few. This Halloween show proved that they are still one of the most fun, talented, and obscure progressive rock bands on the planet.