Weezer at the Xcel Energy Center

Weezer at the Xcel Energy Center

Photo by Tony Nelson. Click here for the slideshow.

For more than a decade, pop-rock powerhouse Weezer has been like a happy little musical nation ruled by lead singer-cum-dictator Rivers Cuomo and fawned over by millions of manically committed fans-turned-subjects. But with the release of their fifth album, a self-titled disc nicknamed the Red Album, Cuomo relinquished partial control of the band by letting drummer Pat Wilson and guitarist Brian Bell sing and receive writing credits. This pop power-sharing deal is working wonders to reinvigorate the nation of Weez, tired of long waits between albums and tours.

Check out the slideshow.

The new era of Weezer as a band rather than as Cuomo and three guys that follow him around was in full effect for two hours at the Xcel on Friday. They opened with the song that introduced them to listeners, the first song on their debut Blue Album, "My Name is Jonas" with a twist as bassist Scott Shriner took over a large part of the lead vocals. They followed with a string of high-voltage hits "Pink Triangle," "Perfect Situation," and "Say It Ain't So." Then they unloaded a surprise treat, the Blue Album-era b-side "Suzanne."

Cuomo, sporting a bushy mustache and shaggy hair, displayed surprising pep and bounce throughout the set as he boogied across the stage in a red Weezer sweat suit the members donned. Cuomo, who in the past has talked very little on stage, gave rambling song introductions, heaped praise on the fans, walked down to the floor to play while Bell sang "El Scorcho," and bounced around on a little trampoline on stage during several songs. He gleefully ripped through their best-loved songs, and a few straightforward versions of songs off the Red Album.

Weezer at the Xcel Energy Center

The end of the night was by far the biggest departure from Weezer's past. After finishing their set and leaving the stage, more than 30 people filed on stage toting instruments ranging from the Middle Eastern banjo-like oud to washboards and trombones. The band returned and Cuomo explained that the people fans that were going to play along for a couple songs. Maestro Cuomo instructed the audience on backup vocals and conducted the makeshift band through "Holiday in the Sun" and "Beverly Hills." After the stage was cleared a Weezer record player was placed on stage playing the Red Album for a few minutes before the band returned once more for a proper encore ending the night with an eyebrow-singeing rendition of "Buddy Holly."

The concert proved a couple things to Cuomo and his faithful followers: First, as Cuomo ages and is continually met with success, he appears to finally understand that his little musical fiefdom will not crumble if his bandmates exert some artistic control, in fact it's probably more fun for everybody in the arena. Second, despite plenty rumors of breakups, a pair of truly mediocre albums, and years between releases and tours, Weezer fans are still devoted to an almost religious level. And closing the show Friday night, their leader shouted what they all were praying to hear. "We'll see you next year."

Miscellaneous Notes:

Drummer Pat Wilson got out from behind the kit to belt out a cover of Oasis' "Morning Glory," in support of Noel Gallagher who is recovering from an on stage attack in Toronto.

The audience had many families for which it was impossible to determine if the kids dragged the parents to the show of if the parents made the kids come.

There was a second drum set on stage and Cuomo showed on a couple of songs that he knows his way around the skins. The otherwise lukewarm performance of "Undone (the Sweater Song)" with lousy opening act Angels & Airwaves, was punched up significantly by Cuomo's drum solo.

The classic light-up flying W that accompanied Weezer on countless tours didn't make the trip for this show. Finally at the end of the show, the giant video board behind the stage featured displayed an image of the iconic letter.

Support act Canadian band Tokyo Police Club was decent in their warm up duties. They were also quintessentially cutesy Canadian by finishing up their set saying, "Thanks, guys. Take care!"

Bassist Scott Shriner took center stage to break out his highly-unWeezeresq Red Album bonus track "King," which while far from fans' cup of tea, showed that when Weezer finally packs it up for good, Shriner is more than capable of leading his own band to glory on stage.

Angels & Airwaves were pretty dreadful. Lead singer Tom DeLonge of Blink 182 fame was a truly awkward dancer. There were a few excited A&A fans on the floor, but there also was a serious smattering boos and calls to leave the stage. Although that's mild for Weezer fans who have been known to actually heckle opening acts into shamefully exiting the stage.

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