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last night's gig

Weezer Is Excellent at Pretending Like It’s 1994

The Memories Tour — in which Weezer has been playing two nights in each city, with the first featuring an entire run-through of the Blue Album and the second Pinkerton — hit New York's Roseland Ballroom this weekend. Most coverage, it looks like, has been focusing on the second night, and that makes sense: Pinkerton is the fascinating cult object, at one point publicly rejected by front man Rivers Cuomo and for years unofficially banned from Weezer sets, and so its reemergence is a rare music-nerd fantasy actually coming true. But what the Blue Album lacks in mystique and intrigue, it makes up for in jams.

Friday night kicked off, appropriately, with “Memories,” Weezer's nostalgic, partial-mojo-recapturing single from this year's Hurley, then plowed in reverse chronological order through the back catalogue. Every album was represented, but the Green Album got particular shine with three tracks (“Photograph,” “Island in the Sun,” and “Hashpipe”). The Pinkerton selection was “Falling for You,” and even though we knew the band would be playing the entire album the next day, it still freaked us out a bit to hear it. Also: Before a lot of the songs, Rivers would declare which album and what year they were from, and that was helpful.

After the rare rock-show intermission and the even rarer rock-show photo slideshow narrated by the guy who runs the rock band's blog, Weezer returned for the main attraction. And, wonderfully, they did so as if it actually were 1994. As in: Rivers, who before was bounding around the stage rock-star style with the mike in his hand, positioned himself directly in front of the mike stand, guitar strapped on tight. Also, a strategic wardrobe change left him in distinctively plain 1994 gear and without his glasses, which he apparently wasn't wearing at the time of the Blue Album. So not only was the band willing to appease irritable older fans who've complained about every album after Pinkerton, but they were willing to do so in a slavishly detailed manner, effectively playing a cover band version of themselves. It was amazing: Every single one of the Blue Album's perfect pop-rock tracks felt epic, with not a note out of place and barely any time between the songs to get your mind right for the next one. In front of Vulture, a mini dance party had incongruously broken out, a pair of couples in Weezer-brand plastic glasses slopping drinks around their feet and moving out of tune. It busted up the illusion, but only a bit.

Photo: Skip Bolen/WireImage