Vaselines at Neumo’s, Seattle | 12 May 2009
Seeing the Vaselines last night was like sex on the second date. The first date was last summer at Sub Pop 20 festival where there was heavy petting and even some dry humping. Their set at Marymoor Park last July was just about perfect with Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee’s sexually tinged funny stage banter and even better harmonies, they were easily the highlight of that perfect summer afternoon. After a first date that goes so well, you always kind of prepare yourself for a letdown on date number two. You start to see the imperfections, maybe a few wrinkles or a bald spot. The Vaselines may have their imperfections, but I’m still blinded by lust to really notice any of them. Francis joked saying that you may think you’re at the wrong gig if you’re looking for the people on the poster, referring to the much younger looking Vaselines that adorned the advertising for the show. They also tried to explain their long absence with wild stories of Eugene becoming a Hare Krishna, explaining his lack of hair, and Frances’s time in prison for allegedly getting facials from underage boys.
With the Vaselines,it’s all about sex and god, and they did not disappoint in either department. Eugene introduced Monster Pussy with a few double entendres, about Frances’s cat and then went on to call Jesus a cunt for not giving him a bike for Christmas. Teenage Jesus Superstar was a role playing song with Eugene playing the part of the teenage kid reading comic books in his room and masturbating. Francis played the roll of his mother. The Vaselines are kind of like the dirty version of Billy Bragg or Robyn Hitchcock, where the between song banter is sometimes as good as the songs.
They were backed again by Belle & Sebastian members Stevie Jackson on guitar and Bobby Kildea on bass, and the songs had a smoother polish to them than the recorded versions that I’m so familiar with from Way of the Vaselines. The better sounding Vaselines is probably due to the band being better musicians than they were 20 years ago. Even though they sounded less ragged, they still have the attitude and humor that made them so special in the first place. There is no way that anyone at this gig went home disappointed from this gig, besides sounding great, they played every single one of their songs and even graced us with two brand new ones. Both new ones employ generous amounts of harmony, I think I liked the first one which they’re calling Picked a Cherry best. The other new one is so new it doesn’t even have a name yet, referred to on the set list as New New Song. The classics sounded, well classic. They started the set with Son of a Gun, their fist single which appeared on Stephen Pastel’s 53rd & 3rd label back in 1987, and then Monster Pussy and The Day I was a Horse, which got a funny intro from Eugene telling about how it was written about the experience of taking acid and thinking you’re a horse. Frances had the boys swooning when she mentioned that she was looking for a second husband so that she could live in America. Never mind the impossibility of it all, there were takers everywhere to join here harem. With three songs from their discography that they had yet to play, wouldn’t you know it, they came back for a three song encore, of Rory Rides Me Raw, their danc-y Divine cover You Think You’re a Man and then Dum Dum. Before Dum Dum, Eugene said that this would be their last song because they didn’t have any more to play. Just like last summer, the Vaselines were just about perfect playing their timeless songs like it was 1989 and Dum Dum just came out, only this time a lot more people were paying attention.
Video I shot of the as yet to be titled New New Song:
The Stranger, Seattle Weekly , Seattle Subsonic and Seattle Metblog were also there. Here’s the set list in case you’re the type that’s interested in the exact order of how everything went down. (No I’m not the one who pinched the setlist before the encore, it was the guy in front of me)