The Tubes Live: The Completion Backwards Principle!

Live at The Canyon, Montclair, Ca.

To imagine my 20-year-old self seeing the Tubes perform at the dinner theater, The Canyon in Montclair, California, you would have witnessed an over-the-top spectacle of FANBOY enthusiasm! I would have been expecting the first note of every song and I would have been cheering so loudly the band would begin to rethink the wisdom of letting me in again. During WPOD I would have rushed to the foot of the stage and sang, more like shout out the chorus and screamed out the response to the call, “Where did you get it?” I might have been a right obnoxious Git.


Review and photos by Camden Barbour

Listening to and watching, live, each new song from the 1981 album, Completion Backward Principle, would have been and over the top, out of body experience for my fresh-faced self.

For my 58-year-old self, seeing the Tubes perform the Completion Backward Principle from start to finish at the Canyon in Southern California, I was again transported to a place where nothing matters except the music and the show, exploding on stage right in front of you. Nothing matters except the guitars, the bass, the drums, and the keyboards making their glorious racket. Nothing matters except the lights and the smoke and the back up singers causing your heart to flutter. Nothing matters except how the lead singer, the man center stage, takes you by the throat and brings you into the lyrics and story within the music.

Nothing matters except the space between one note and the next. The Tubes delivered an amazing set at the Canyon with their presentation of the 1981 Capital release of their 6th studio album, the Completion Backward Principle.

The only distraction was questioning the song sequence on stage with the memory of song sequence on the album. These Tubes’ songs have been in the show in some order or fashion for 38 years and I found myself wondering if the song order was the same as the record. (Which of course they were).

Fee Waybill was good-natured about explaining what Side One and Side Two meant to some of the younger audience members. His vocals were spot on and his commitment to the songs was enveloping. Fee is the keystone to an amazing foundation of great musicians and the front man to some great songs. The whole band looked eager to present a stellar show.

Roger, Rick, David and Trey wore the IBM grey suits from the album cover as they took the stage. Fee, who shrinks the size of the stage with his bigger than life swagger and presence, follows the band’s entrance.

David and Rick marshaled each note, each chord with a precision and joy that was amazing to watch. Rick reacts to everything in the music or on stage in some manner or another and he is a good barometer of what is transpiring at any given time during the show.

Trey Sabatelli, a substitute for Prairie Prince and who, by comparison, has the toughest job in the band, churned out the rhythm and fills with a thunder and exactness similar to a massive Sheetmetal machine you might hear on a factory shop floor.

I’ve seen Roger Steen play a few (hundred) shows since 1981 and I can honestly say that I don’t think I have ever seen him play the way he did for the Canyon show. It seemed to me that every note became visible on his face at the same time his fingers danced over the guitar neck or brushed across the six strings. Roger played with a grace that was heavenly.

The band did another hour or so worth of songs which were well selected and became a great way to take the wrapper off the CBP gift.

Supporting Band: Diane and the Deductibles