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Fan Recaps and Comments:
Review from The Deseret News (July 3, 1992):
On the duo's return Salt Lake visit, the support band allowed Linnell and Flansburgh to open up their show to a request: the Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." The results weren't completely successful, especially with Flansburgh's wan vocals approximating a crude English accent, but they did manage to add a nice reggae bounce to the ditty.
All sniping aside, the Giants did put on a decently impressive show mixing old and new numbers (many of the older being obscure, such as "Boat of Car," from their first LP). And while not all the songs benefitted from the fuller arrangements ("Lucky Ball and Chain" sounded a little forced), we should applaud the Johns' courage in trying something a little different and a little normal for a change.
Elsewhere, though, the results were more charming. Bassist Tony Maimone (of Cleveland's art-pop act Pere Ubu) and multi-instrumentalist Kurt Hoffman (the founder of New York's Ordinaires) helped add badly needed life to TMBG's set, while drummer Jon Feinberg proved to be more than a mere timekeeper.
The music never got too fancy, though it was typical TMBG - which is to say odd. From twist numbers ("Twistin' in the Wind") to brisk polka ("The Famous Polka") to songs about toupees ("Purple Toupee" - Carl Arky, look out!), the concert never got too serious either.
Even when the band plays songs about romances, they get things mixed up. Take for example, "Narrow Your Eyes" from the duo's underappreciated new LP, "Apollo 18." While Flansburgh proclaimed "I just can't bear to tell you some lies," he still oddly (and lustily) sang "I don't want to change your mind/I don't want to think about your mind."
Such examples go to prove that though the duo's music is adorably poppy and hook-filled, there are enough lyrical twists and turns to make the songs interesting.
One big unfortunate for such a cozy show was the imposition of chairs and seating in the Fairpark Coliseum setting. Though the Salt Lake County Fire Marshal's office might have everyone's best intentions in mind by requiring the chairs, officials also show their ignorance by not realizing that rows of chairs are just as hazardous to dance around and get out of in an emergency situation.
Review from The Salt Lake Tribune (July 4, 1992):
It was one of those rare moments when the accordion reached the zenith of rock excellence.The band performed two extended encores. The first two songs of the initial encore featured just Messrs. Linnell and Flansburgh. The remaining band members returned to finish the short set, and all five musicians played the second.
"This is the portion of the show when we take requests for a song we've never done before and we haven't made up."
What came next was a polka-rock version of The Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." The song kind of petered out at the end, but the band, They Might Be Giants , had made its point.
In rock 'n' roll, nothing is sacred and everything should be fun. Thursday night at the Utah Fairpark Coliseum in Salt Lake City, John Linnell and John Flansburgh seemed to have as good a time as they gave. As a result, in a spasm of joy during TMBG's final song, the cheering throng poured out of their seats and onto the Coliseum floor to dance.
Nerd rock had come and conquered.
What other band would sing about Jason and the Argonauts?
Fortunately, the quality of entertainment made up for the building's poor acoustics, and entertaining the evening was.
"The Guitar," from TMBG's latest album "Apollo 18," is a great parody of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
The band even pokes fun at traditional concert moments.
"This is the bummerific part of the show," Mr. Flansburgh said. "We'll play a slow song."
They Might Be Giants , with an expanded lineup for the "Don't Tread on the Cut-Up Snake World Tour 1992," used a playlist that drew from all four albums, including "Your Lucky Ball and Chain," "Particle Man," "Your Racist Friend," "Piece of Dirt," "Whistling in the Dark" and "Birdhouse in Your Soul."
Thunderous applause and an impromptu chorus greeted "Whistling" and "Birdhouse."