Theatrical stage show will feature singer Fee Waybill’s famed Quay Lewd character, greatest hits
The Tubes, the San Francisco band that pioneered theatrics in rock ‘n’ roll long before MTV and music video made it fashionable, will embark on a national tour in which, for the first time, they will perform their hit 1981 album, “The Completion Backward Principle” – their first for Capitol Records, produced by Grammy-winner David Foster – in its entirety. Led by lead singer Fee Waybill – known for an array of characters including iconic, glam-rocking, stacked-heel vocalist Quay Lewd and punk parody Johnny Bugger – The Tubes’ current lineup also includes original members drummer Prairie Prince, guitarist Roger Steen and bassist Rick Anderson, along with longtime keyboardist David Medd.
The tour includes dates in Los Angeles, Dallas, Detroit, Denver and Las Vegas. It visits the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda on May 18.
Waybill said this will be the first time the band performs an album in its entirety on stage.
The album’s theme is a take-off on a spoken-word vinyl record touting a 1950’s motivational sales technique. The group discovered it in a San Francisco record bin. The band has even broken out those gray business suits featured in the 1981 video just for good measure.
“ ‘The Completion Backward Principle’ album was a spoof of corporate rock,” Fee said. “The sales technique was that ‘imagination creates reality,’ which, it turns out, was a metaphor for someone like me, who grew up singing Beatles songs around the house dying to be in a band.”
After five albums on A&M, The Tubes signed with Capitol Records for “The Completion Backward Principle,” which teamed members with producer Foster for the group’s most commercially successful (and radio-friendly) release to that point. The record yielded two hit singles in power ballad “Don’t Want to Wait Anymore” (the group’s first song to land in the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100), and the Top 10 rock radio anthem, “Talk to Ya Later.”
“David had just produced Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘Boogie Wonderland,’ and we loved that album,” Fee said about the approach to the funk-flavored “The Completion Backward Principle,” which also included the beach party set piece, “Sushi Girl”; the Steely Dan-ish “Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman”; the R&B workout “Power Tools”; and the stadium classic in waiting, “Let’s Make Some Noise.”
“Some of these songs we haven’t played in a really long time,” Fee said.
In addition to playing “Completion” start to finish, The Tubes’ show will include such classics as “White Punks on Dope,” “Mondo Bondage,” “What Do You Want from Life?” “Out of the Business,” “I Want It All Now” and the band’s highest-charting single, “She’s a Beauty.”
“We were parody, we were comedy, we were tragedy, we were satire, we were a big theatrical presentation,” Waybill said of The Tubes.