Gig review: Tenacious D at First Direct Arena, Leeds

Kyle Gass and Jack Black of Tenacious D.Kyle Gass and Jack Black of Tenacious D.
Kyle Gass and Jack Black of Tenacious D.
As established purveyors of comedy prog-metal, Jack Black and Kyle Gass deliver a show that functions as American rock ’n’ roll pantomime in Leeds.

Leeds,” Jack Black intones from behind the microphone, its stand wrapped upright in a waxy approximation of Satan’s clenched red fist. “Been a while. I had such a nice stroll up your canal.” He pauses, then leans over towards the front rows, face poker-straight. “I spent all day up in there.”

Such ribald entendres are par for the course with the singer-actor-songwriter and his companion Kyle Gass. Together, the two are Tenacious D, established purveyors of comedy prog-metal. Formed thirty years ago, before their lead singer broke out as a Hollywood heavyweight, their approach to music marries Spinal Tap-esque parody with an obvious affection for the tropes they lampoon; their shows function as American rock-and-roll pantomime for the most part.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This return to West Yorkshire fascinates for size and demand; they have sold out the First Direct Arena without breaking an apparent sweat, despite the fact their last full album, 2018’s Post-Apocalypto, spluttered in the lower echelons of the charts. Its songs are noticeably absent across a 90-minute show; engineered as a daffy send-up from cod-acoustic-opera opener Kickapoo to The Spicy Meatball Song – a throwaway ditty sung to the tune of John Williams’ Raiders March – it mostly thrills those in attendance.

It helps that both Black and Gass are fine musicians, and that the former holds a terrific voice to stand with his heroes. Likewise, their compositional chops have transcended pure pastiche too; Wonderboy and Tribute, both sizable singles in their heyday, are genuinely great tracks, played with a finger-picking zen.

But the skit songs dominate, whether they be Video Games’ throwaway rockabilly hoedown, or Sax-a-Boom, where Black honks on a plastic toy saxophone, backed by lashings of disco-funk. For The Metal, a 10ft horned robot stomps around the stage, while Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown) features an inflatable demon spewing confetti streamers.

A gag on the inefficiency of their flame geysers, featuring a hapless roadie named Biffy Pyro, runs the full length of the show, while Gass stages a fake walkout ahead of Dude (I Totally Miss You) to fake crocodile tears.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I don’t think anybody left!” Black crows before an encore that pays tribute to The Who’s Live at Leeds with versions of Pinball Wizard and See Me, Feel Me. As they take their final bow, the pyro finally lights up with a roar from the crowd. Knowingly silly stuff, then, but sweetly effective too.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.