Fringe preview: The Tubes
Glam rockers who embraced punk’s true aesthetic, back for one night only
This article is from 2015.
If you’re going to see Fee Waybill and his long-serving band of outrageous glam-punks The Tubes in Edinburgh, you want to do it during the Fringe. ‘Outrageous’ is a word which has often been applied to what he used to do, and it probably was when the Tubes started in 1972, before punk broke. Search on YouTube and you’ll find footage of Waybill from 1977 on the none-more-staid Old Grey Whistle Test, platforms so towering he has to be carried down the stairs by the crew, ball-hugging silver thong one slip from scarring the minds of a generation.
That performance was of the winningly snide glam-rocker ‘White Punks on Dope’, a rail against safe middle class rebellion, which was a theme that carried on into the cod-epic ‘What Do You Want From Life?’ (‘…to kidnap an heiress or threaten her with a knife?’). The 1983 US hit ‘She’s a Beauty’ aside, they never made an overground impression, but they worked with Todd Rundgren; influenced Motley Crue; opened for David Bowie; performed with Dolly Parton on Cher’s television show; appeared in the cult Olivia Newton-John disco movie Xanadu; and went bust when the hugely expensive, S&M-themed circus show they took on tour (designed by Kenny Ortega, later choreographer of Dirty Dancing) grew too big for its own good. That’s a legacy if ever we heard one.
Liquid Room, 226 000, 12 Aug, 7pm, £23.