Concert Review: The Tubes Live at the Soiled Dove Underground

DENVER, COLORADO - The Rocky Mountains, dividing the US continent, were created millions of years ago by a surge of unimaginable amount of energy. From this cataclysmic uproar a fluid stream of asphalt oozed up and poured over the prairie like a silkie layer of fudge on a hashish cake. Where herds of Winnebegos once roamed free, cowboys and cowgirls ride along in electric cars which say, “Mha, mha, mha” when you lay on the horn.

Review and photo by Camden Barbour

Where the radios dare to “wake us up from a sleep...” the rockies innocently await the winds from the plains. It is exactly this landscape in which the restaurant and concert venue, The Soiled Dove Underground collects its nutrients from the dry air like a cactus flower in the alkaline soil.

You have to say the whole name while you are talking about this place, otherwise it sounds dirty in some way. I drifted effortlessly into the Soiled Dove and underground I went. The showroom was crisp and clean and remarkably small. The ceiling was low. The stage was wide and deep enough and with the rented back-line of Tubes gear, it looked ready for a great show. There was not a bad seat in the house.

The floor was empty so I stood at the foot of the stage and looked around at the happy faces seated at their tables and chairs. It occurred to me that aside from my friend Chris M., his friend and his son, it was certain I didn’t know anyone in the audience. There was not one face I had seen before at a Tubes show. This gave me a certain primeval feeling about the show about to erupt just feet from where I stood.

I felt the room jar a little bit as Rick Anderson, Dave Mead and Roger Steen eased out onto the stage without much advance notice. Prairie Prince took his position behind the drums. In one breath he snapped the front cymbal with his drum stick with exactly the right amount of force to send the Tubes into their earth-pounding overture.

“ Listen boys and girls about about the other world...”

The piano refrain of “This Town” smooth out the seismic activity momentarily as Fee Waybill enters in his even smoother overcoat and hat. The song builds slowly until Fee warns us things are going to change, “bye bye bye bye, so long....” He returns casually and brings us to a place with “little minds tearing you in two...”

Like quick aftershocks the earth again first throbs and then shakes with “Power Tools” and “Rat Race.” Rick Anderson adds the shockwave and Dave Mead adds liquefaction to the top end which peak the seismograph at 1980 something. Disoriented and somewhat dizzy, I don’t recognize the jazzy chords and beat coming from the stage but who am I to bring suit on such geographical changes in the landscape?

“Mr. Hate” and “Amnesia” push to the surface through new crevices opening and closing across the mantel. “Somehow I don’t feel the same, I can’t remember my name...” Fee sings from within his TV head. Roger Steen belts out harmonies until oxygen is pushed from every last cell in his body. Rick hammers the bass lines into rhythmic bits which Prairie cuts up into even finer chunks of boulders.

“Mondo Bondage” is its own kind of plate tectonics with a continental commotion that never really seems to subside.

Roger covers “ Trouble Coming Every Day” with a rapidly warming ending that you don’t notice creeping up on you until you are tugging at your shirt collar for more air. I am no scientist, but this song makes me glad I am not a polar icecap.

“What Do you Want From Life” and “Sushi Girl” keep the rivers of peridotite flowing. Evolution is tossed back to a green fish-man interning as a sous chef. The audience is looking for answers behind doors with no numbers.

“Don’t Want To Wait Anymore” causes the mountain top to explode and lava to spew furiously in great arcs across the sky. Prairie Prince lays down the thunder that ripples throughout the newly form valley walls. The most basic rhythms of life parade down the stage runway like proud little dolls. “Please don’t throw my love away...”

“White Punks On Dope” is the earth settling down into place again. The guitar progression brings the swaying of the room into a comfortable and familiar chant. “You gave it to us!”

“She’s a Beauty”, “Talk To You Later” and “3rd Stone From the Sun” feels like the room cooling down. Obsidian glass forms on the edges of the room.

The magma of the Tubes erupts over the Soiled Dove Underground causing continental shifts in the landscape. After the show I feel like a tiny grain of sand in an endless wave of the cosmos. “I’m burning green like a rhomboid sun.”