The First & the Last of Pere Ubu at Lincoln Hall | Bleader

The First & the Last of Pere Ubu at Lincoln Hall

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No album better expressed the desolation and beauty of the decaying rust belt than Pere Ubu’s debut, The Modern Dance. Certainly there was nothing else like it back in 1978. The band’s music pulled in a half dozen directions at once; Tom Herman’s guitar spoke the languages of Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters, Allen Ravenstine’s EML synthesizer reconciled the hum of pure electricity and the chirping of birdsong, singer David Thomas simultaneously critiqued and embraced the persona of the alienated young man, and the rhythm section of Scott Krass Krauss and Tony Maimone simply kicked ass. And not much in rock has topped it to this day.

Today Thomas is Ubu’s sole remaining founding member, but the band's latest album is something of a back-to-the-egg gesture. Long Live Père Ubu! is Thomas’s take on the Alfred Jarry play Ubu Roi, whose titular antihero is the source of the band’s name. Jarry’s play, a scatological retelling of Macbeth, has sustained itself over the decades in part because anyone who thinks his enemies are vile and venal will recognize them in the person of Ubu Roi. Thomas’s version of the king isn’t just a murderous coward; he’s a taxing-and-spending faux environmentalist who carries on like something out of a Glenn Beck fever dream. On record, Thomas trades vocals with former Communards singer Sarah Jane Morris while the current band grinds out a backdrop of clanking rock and squiggly electronics. On Wednesday, March 24—one of just three concerts Ubu is playing in the U.S. on this trip—they’ll appear without Morris, but they’ll play all of The Modern Dance as well as most of Long Live Père Ubu!

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