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Theatrics reign supreme for
"She's a Beauty" sultans

The Tubes
The Hemmens Cultural Center
Elgin, IL
Oct. 10, 2008
The Tubes The Tubes The Tubes

Story and photos by Andy Argyrakis

Between its outrageous costumes, theatrical stage presence laden with scantily clad models and a San Francisco-bred glam/pop/punk pedigree, The Tubes were in a class all its own when debuting thirty-five years ago. Taking the underground approach of Frank Zappa, the over the top appeal of Alice Cooper, wrapped around stinging pop culture satire, the Fee Waybill-led troupe turned the underground upside down and even found enough mainstream acclaim to still be in the game today.

Though not necessarily playing to arena audiences anymore, the intimate and acoustically inviting Hemmens Cultural Center was an ideal venue to catch The Tubes plow through tunes from the past three decades, alongside its delightfully demented cabaret appeal. Across two hours, the charismatic leader changed more times than Madonna and was just as extreme as the day he debuted, minus the soft-core pornography that permeated early performances.

But there were still naughty stories, like the description behind the steamy "She's a Beauty," which Waybill said was inspired by a trip to the peep show, but obviously found much wider appeal given its worldwide radio domination. Come "I Want It All Now," he donned a polyester sport coat and asked the audience about their wildest dreams (which ranged from material possessions to wanting a steady relationship to non-repeatable decadence).

Gimmicky certainly assisted the group, but Waybill's four backers were quite proficient on their respective parts (even if the guitarist looked like a stodgy accountant and the keyboardist seeming better destined to back The Beach Boys). Nonetheless, the singer was energetic enough to hold everyone's attention, whether that was dressing up like James Brown (literally) for a cover of "Sex Machine" or the old school character Quay Lewd for "White Punks on Dope," looking like a lean Iggy Pop, but with shiny silver pants and monstrous matching platform shoes. After earning thunderous applause, The Tubes dipped into the shadows and Waybill got changed back into street clothes, returning with the fellow radio regular "Talk To Ya Later" to end the evening with an additional dose of sing-a-long strewn excitement.
The Tubes The Tubes The Tubes
The Tubes The Tubes The Tubes
The Tubes The Tubes The Tubes

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