Cruising Once Again: The Cars Live

May 26th, 2011 by The Professor


The Cars rev up historic hits and switch into high gear with new stage oscillations

by Radio RockonTour host Timothy Tilghman

The Cars cruised into the Capitol on Monday, May 23, 2011, appearing before a sold out SRO audience at the 9:30 Club. As luck would have it for those fans without tickets staked out in front of the venue before showtime seeking to score entry, essentially every single person searching for sellers was able to buy a ticket priced marginally above face value.

Leader Ric Ocasek finally consented to a Cars reunion in the studio and on tour with his former bandmates lead guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes, and drummer David Robinson. Touring only as a foursome, they made the right decision not to replace their fallen partner and bassist Benjamin Orr. Hawkes picked up a bass guitar to play on two songs during their high-octane performance.

The quartet simply walked out on stage and immediately plugged into “Good Times Roll”. Their stage motif resembled Move Like This the cover art from the new disk. The Cars were primarily preoccupied with promoting their new album as the setlist featured a total of six fresh tunes. Although the studio recordings were rather thin on Easton’s distinct lead guitar wizardry, these new numbers sounded better live.

The classic Cars tunes from their initial 1978 self-titled album were exceedingly well received. The handful of selections originally sung by bassist Benjamin Orr generated an intense response from the Capitol crowd. Hawkes voiced an acknowledgment with, “A tip of the hat to our friend Ben Orr”.

Two exceptional unanticipated album choices unearthed for this modern tour by Ocasek that deserve recognition as major stage surprises were the apologetic heartfelt ballad “I’m Not The One” and the whimsical psychedelic vibe of “Heartbeat City”. Ocasek certainly left an indelible impression on the top pop hits of the 1980s with an innovative quirkiness unmatched by contemporary composers during his career peak streak.

Their triple-whammy encore drove audience hysteria to ecstatic heights. Incredibly after the concert concluded, each member of The Cars made himself available before boarding to sign autographs for the anxious fans crammed behind a barrier set up adjacent to the alleyway where their tourbus was parked.

Ocasek may not have broken any new ground in releasing a new collection of Cars material; however, this action reconstitutes The Cars with a creative rebirth in the new millennium. Depending on the level of success this present reunion project produces, there may be hope for Cars fans that more music and tours will follow in the future.

Even though practically a quarter century has passed, The Cars were rightly welcomed on the tour circuit by their loyal fanbase. Demand for the band was demonstrated in 2006, when The New Cars conducted an overwhelmingly popular nostalgia tour orchestrated by Todd Rundgren who handled lead vocals. Cars fans have Ric Ocasek to thank for this exciting 2011 Spring tour.

The Cars, 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, May 23, 2011 setlist: Good Times Roll * Blue Tip * Since You’re Gone * Up And Down * My Best Friend’s Girl * Hits Me * Touch And Go * I’m In Touch With Your World * Keep On Knocking * You Might Think * Drag On Forever * Free * I’m Not The One * Sad Song * Heartbeat City * Let’s Go * Encore: Moving In Stereo * Just What I Needed * You’re All I’ve Got Tonight




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