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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 13, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 19
The Cars let the good times roll again
Arts & Entertainment
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The Cars let the good times roll again

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

The Cars
May 10
The Showbox SoDo


'Is there anyone here who doesn't know this is our first show in 24 years?' asked Ric Ocasek early in The Cars' set at the Showbox SoDo on Tuesday night. The sold-out crowd erupted in a minute-long cheer, befitting an occasion such as this.

This night was indeed the first time in nearly a quarter-century that one of pop-rock's most admired bands played on a live stage with four of its five original members (the fifth, Benjamin Orr, passed away in 2000).

The group opened with 'Good Times Roll' to a wailing audience still in disbelief that The Cars - an '80s staple - were performing in front of them. Ocasek, spiffy in his trademark shades and an all-black ensemble (two-piece suit and metallic shirt), was the epitome of cool without even trying to be.

Peppered with newer songs from the quartet's just-released album, Move Like This, the set list was a terrific sampling of their catalog. But it wasn't as long, or as strong, as I'd hoped it would be. 'Up and Down,' a B-side from Panorama, was a surprise entry that sounded good, though 'Gimme Some Slack' or something from a different album deserved to be in its place. Thankfully, 'Touch and Go' got in there and was offered as a tribute to the late Orr.

'I'm Not the One' also seemed like an odd pick, although it does appear on The Cars' Complete Greatest Hits package from 2002. 'Heartbeat City' was yet another interesting choice, but the dramatic keyboards from Greg Hawkes at the beginning and throughout the song were riveting. Hawkes, by the way, has visibly aged more than his fellow bandmates.

'You Might Think' was bouncy and fun to dance along with, and some of us knew every word to it. And how could we resist singing in unison to 'My Best Friend's Girl,' an essential for any Cars playlist? A little unexpected yet well-received was 'Since You're Gone,' which featured standout guitar work by Elliot Easton, who wore cherry-red pants and a wildly-patterned white dress shirt.

The crowd really went bonkers for 'Let's Go,' so much that the stage lights were fully lit during the chorus as everyone yelled out 'I love the nightlife, baby!'

A couple of strange things happened during 'Moving In Stereo.' First, Ocasek - expressionless throughout the show - managed to smile (yes, he does have teeth), and second, the band somehow didn't get it right, prompting the lead singer to ask if anyone minded them playing it again. And that's exactly what they did; they played it all over again from the beginning, this time with considerably more bite. That concluded the main set.

The Cars returned for a two-song encore, which included the leadoff track from Move Like This called 'Sad Song.' Again, Hawkes' synthesizers were very effective. The final number was 'Just What I Needed,' and it roused concertgoers to shout the lyrics 'I don't mind you comin' here, and wastin' all my time' with full authority. Although many diehard fans stuck around wanting another encore, they were quickly disappointed by the appearance of the stage crew, who immediately started unplugging the instruments.

It's amazing how great The Cars sounded. They were a bit heavy on the bass, yet otherwise they seemed relaxed and performed as if they'd only been broken up for a few years. This certainly wasn't a reunion of rock dinosaurs trying to cash in on their hits with a mediocre show; these guys were golden, even after a 24-year hiatus.

I agree with one pissed-off fan, who ranted passionately at the end of the concert about the omission of 'Dangerous Type.' While we're at it, where in the hell was 'Drive'? Ditto for 'Candy-O.' Will we have to wait until 2035 to see them again? Let's hope not.

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