Ween unpacks his cool and weird setlist in Providence, Rhode Island (View Review)
It has been many years since Wayne embarked on a proper tour and their triumphant return to the cities took them to cities they had not played in decades. Not surprisingly, many of these shows—in intimate venues by Wayne’s standards—sold out almost immediately. One of the hottest tickets was Providence, Rhode Island, what one would assume was a sleeper hit in a show that ended up being one of the best shows of the tour. As fans waited throughout the building to arrive at The Strand on Friday, September 15 for the second-to-last show of the tour, most had no idea they were in for one of Ween’s most unusual setlists to come down in years filled with music. Long time favorites along with left field rarities.
Opening with the slowly building rock riffs of “Did You See Me?”, the band immediately set the tone for what would be a marathon set of eclectic song choices. “Just Where Am I” came before the early euphoria of “Bananas and Blow,” but “I Was Nothing” took things in a completely different direction with its lyrical silliness contrasted with Dean Wayne’s seared rock shredding and complemented by Claude’s ferocious drumming. Coleman Jr. This was the first of several extended, oblivion-filled jams that the band would unleash over the course of the night. The simple punk of the band’s early years on ‘Marble Tulip Juicy Tree’ was a nice surprise before the elegant and mature set of ‘Baby Bitch’ won over the crowd followed by the carnival pop grandeur of ‘Roses Are Free’. With the band and audience now on the rise, “Flutes of Chi” took over with gentle guitar followed by upbeat shredding that worked its way into the bright, sunny pop meets country of “Chocolate Town.” These feelings continued with the frenetic fun-fest of “Waving My Dick In the Wind” with eccentric solos – the psychedelic ecstasy of “Transdermal Celebration”, and the unexpected kiss-off grandeur of “Sweet Texas Fire”. One of the biggest moments of the night came with Deaner’s super-charged blues riff on “Take Me Away” only to follow it up with “Buckingham Green” and the sprawling jam “Tear For Eddie.”
Nearly twenty songs in, the band brought things back to a lighter level with the pure poolside fun of “Koko” and the lively “Candy Fackler” that would turn out to be one of the highlights of the show as captured by Glenn McClelland. Away on jazz piano. His Vince Gauraldi-style extended solo was one of the coolest moments this writer has seen at a Ween show, with the tune ending in full creepy rock mode as the band returns to iam. It was all mixed into one metallic punch of “Captain Fantasy” and “Don’t Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy),” concluding with a great a cappella group shout-out that showed just how sharp Wayne is these days. The final part of the set was also full of highlights, including Gene Wayne’s phenomenal desert acoustic intro to “I Can’t Put My Finger On It,” the swinging “Powder Blue,” and the explosive frenzy of pop. “Dr. Rock” and a spaced-out Pink Floyd-style elevator jam during “Zoloft.” As Wayne, they once again loaded the set with old favorites with the childlike glee of “The Mollusk”, the absolutely insane pairing of “HIV Song” and “Spinal Meningitis”, and the appropriate guitar shredder of “Voodoo Lady”. All of this before George Jones met Willie Nelson in a mental hospital for the tune of “I’ve Got You.”
As if to send a message to his fans that the evening was coming to an end, Wayne took the stage for another encore nearly three hours later and then transitioned into “Shamemaker,” a shuffle that brought to mind offbeat pop. Daniel Johnston before they launched into the familiar notes of “Your Party” (practically a must-play tune in their repertoire at this point). It’s hard to think of a closer to perfection than “Buenos Tardes Amigos,” and this version saw Jenner come out to perform a guitar solo that was sparse and graceful as if bringing fans back down to earth after an exhilaratingly bizarre rock ‘n’ roll jam. a trip. For those fans looking for a more eccentric side to Wayne, Thursday’s show in Providence captured the band’s talent for presenting the three unexpected decades in a triumphant march. One can only hope that they will seize the momentum of this return to touring to also return to the studio for some new tunes.