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The Whole Nat Shimmied



Kate Pierson spent her birthday unlike most 60-year-old women; decked out in a skin-tight mini dress playing to a packed house of adoring fans. The National was converted to a makeshift funplex Sunday night as the winsome Athens group plowed through a career's worth of electro-glam hits. Opening with the spunky riff-driven "Pump," Pierson bobbed and dipped with go-go girl appeal through thunking beats, eventually giving way to the hypnotic ease of "Mesopotamia" harmonies with Cindy Wilson and the recognizable, driving rhythms of "Private Idaho." Donning sparkling pinstripes and gold lamé pants, Fred Schneider pulled the crowd into a retro-vortex led by toy whistle slides and quirky, cowbell beats, playfully admonishing the mostly 30- and 40-somethings in the crowd with the occasional, "I can't hear you!" A handful of beehives and glitzy retro-frocks shimmered under the spastic flashes of "Strobe Light," which likely tickled a few pacemakers in the crowd as well.

The fiery-maned Pierson gave a nod to a local friend on hand who co-wrote "Roam" before kicking into a sweeping version of it, and "Love Shack" gyrated closely behind, with Cindy belting out her signature "tin roof … rusted!" While the Top 40 hits garnered applause and sing-alongs, it was the new wave blitz of an encore that drove the crowd into a frenzy.

As ominous, red hues rose from the darkness, the eerie sci-fi synths of "Planet Claire" welcomed the band back to the stage, with all parties dramatically slinking back to their microphones. And then it was the moment the loyal anticipate. The often overlooked but ever-heard guitarist Keith Strickland ripped out the opening chords of the timeless oddity that is "Rock Lobster." A handful of feisty followers hit the beer-soaked floors when Fred beckoned "Down, down, down!" bringing the band's first number-one single to a momentary pause before catapulting back to its raucous absurdity of sea creature sounds perfected over the years by Kate and Cindy. Before long, the house lights came up and everyone came back down to earth.

Richmonder Adam Rothschild came with a group of longtime fans and said after the show, "The B-52s are music icons. Everyone knows them. And they definitely know how to work a crowd! You could tell how dedicated to the music and fans they were up there."

Granted, there are a few more pooches and pounds between the band members than in their younger years, but they still move and sound like they did in 1979 … and that's worth celebrating.


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