hat the most striking gimmick, at times, is none at all--may be old, but it still rings true. The first portion of Devo's show at the Warner Theater last night was pretty sensational. They showcased material from their latest LP with a lavish presentation that made imaginative use of films, surreal costuming, tapes, tightly synchronized lighting and a nearly all-synthesizer lineup. The final portion of the program, though, was flat-out brilliant.
Confounding all expectations, the band members stripped down to white T-shirts and black pants, picked up conventional instruments and rocked in dead earnest. They bounced around the stage and raised an honest sweat, tearing through the strongest of their back catalogue with infectious gusto.
Humor and technology were still in evidence, but it was more subtly, efficiently deployed; it was put to use rather than put on display. It seemed as if the group were willing to laugh with the audience instead of at it for once.
Bob Mothersbaugh was repeatedly riveting, executing a neat bit of irony with a series of mock-heroic guitar poses that climaxed in an explosion of white noise and busted strings. He wore kneepads to keep his pants clean!