Tenacious D in 3Arena, Dublin, on Monday 10th February 2020
You really have to feel sorry for, and laugh at, those parents in the audience who no doubt loved Tenacious D in their youth, and who brought their own youngsters along to enjoy tonight’s show. Had they seen Post-Apocalypto, the band’s own hand-drawn animatic series that was broadcast last year on YouTube?
Drawn by Jack Black and voiced by Black and Kyle Gass, tonight kicks off the European tour in support of that very series and its accompanying album, and from the outset it’s clear that Tenacious D are in full-on Tenacious D mode. Projected images of huge cartoon dicks and fannies abound – flying fannies, robot fannies, Jack and Kyle’s dicks, triple-headed doggie dicks, carnivorous dick/fanny hybrid monsters – all soundtracked by songs about dicks and fannies and blowjobs and fucking and the blowing of loads.
That would be to misrepresent what is, in a live setting, basically a sort of rock opera in which Tenacious D, with the help of a terminator robot sent from the future by Black’s 80-year-old son who has yet to be born, must liberate a magical crystal from the evil environs of the White House. Episodes are shown on the large screen while the five-piece band plays between them, veiled behind a translucent curtain.
So, they break into the White House where the terminator robot runs interference by fellating the devious Donald while the lads steal the crystal. Then suddenly everything goes dark and quiet. Is it over, an interlude, a technical fuck-up? It’s the latter, but things soon get moving again to see the plot run its course and the band acknowledges the earlier blackout. “That was Post-Apocalypto in its entirety…including the five minutes of silence that we just added.” The duo bows as roadies scuttle around and rejig the stage because, as Jack Black intones with relish, now it’s time for the greatest hits.
Most of the show hinges around Jack Black’s performance. The man is a born performer – an indefatigable vortex of facial contortions, theatrical zeal, prodigious leaps, and a vocal that can handle the most Classic of Rock’s upper stratospheres. Kyle Gass isn’t so much the straight man to Black’s madness as he is slightly less of a madman, and his nifty flute solo on Double Team is right up there with the best of the night’s more eccentric moments.
An industrious roadie kits Black out with a toy saxophone for Sax-a-Boom, its solo intro of pure funk setting Gass off dancing. Black calls a halt. “What the fuck is going on, only 5% of the audience was dancing!?” Both balconies are subsequently coerced onto their collective feet
Gass takes lead vocal on Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak with Black running in from the wings for each chorus before he calls out the great and good, as well as some food. “Thank you for Thin Lizzy, thank you for U2, thank you for fish & chips, thank you for Samuel Beckett. But most of all, thank you ladies.” Fuck Her Gently sees things out, one final song about fucking to bookend the set.
Tenacious D’s latest stadium experience is basically an audio-visual comedy performance that transforms into a big, powerhouse rock gig, and man, it was good fun. Cartoons, tunes, and genitalia – all the hallmarks of a classic rock’n’roll show.