Despite a catalog full of smart punk/garage nuggets and a girl-group-meets-B-52’s vibe, Scottish O.G., new wavers the Rezillos never gained more than a cult following in America. That’s downright criminal: The band’s all-too-brief show last night at the Beachland Ballroom—the final show of its two-week North American tour and, vocalist Fay Fife noted, its first-ever appearance in Cleveland—was shambolic, sloppy and entertaining.
The Rezillos opened its 15-song set with a new song, “Out Of This World,” which segued neatly into the snotty, fast “Flying Saucer Attack.” The rest of the 50-minute show alternated mainly between new songs (the surf-garage shriek “You’re So Deep,” ferocious “Sorry About Tomorrow”) and cuts drawn mainly from 1978’s Can't Stand The Rezillos. It’s a testament to the band’s talents that these recent-vintage songs fit perfectly among chestnuts such as “Cold Wars,” the b-side “Mystery Action” and a barreling “Destination Venus.”
Throughout the set, original vocalists Fife (who sported a lime-green dress and spiky red hair) and Eugene Reynolds (clad in a leather jacket and sunglasses) impressively nailed their harmonies; highlights included a fist-pumping “Top Of The Pops” and a soaring cover of Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep—Mountain High.” Fife especially was charismatic and brash, bopping around the stage and joking about how the Rezillos have “been playing for a million years.” Original drummer Angel Paterson was also spot-on, and meshed well with newer bassist Chris Agnew and grizzled, wiry guitarist Jim Brady. The Rezillos seemed to grow stronger and gain power as the night progressed. The quintet roared through a frenzied “My Baby Does Good Sculptures” and a blazing “ICan’t Stand My Baby” to end the main set, setting up the inevitable encore rendition of “Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight.” And although the band jokingly prefaced the song by saying it was a “jazz number,” the performance was, of course, raucous and celebratory.