The B-52’s may have surfaced during the new-wave storm of ’79, but they’re not on the oldies circuit quite yet. They’re a vital, still-creative entity, as their new Funplex, attests: despite being pretty dicy, it entered the Billboard chart at #11 — their highest arrival yet.
At the Paradise last Wednesday, they kicked off a sold-out club tour, playing 85 frenzied minutes, cleverly mixing the hits (“Private Idaho,” “Planet Claire,” “Roam,” “Love Shack’’) with ample new material. They juxtaposed the classic, quasi-caustic “Party Out of Bounds” with “Let’s Keep the Party Going,” and, no surprise, the oldie outshone the newbie. “Party Out of Bounds” finds a wry Fred Schneider bitching about everything that’s gone wrong, in reliable contrast with the characteristic glee of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson. “Let's Keep the Party Going,” the melody flattened a bit, has Schneider tossing off party days of the week (all but Sunday) and party cities (yes, Boston makes the list). It felt obligatory — and much of Funplex is burdened by this vibe.
Their performance, however, wasn’t: Keith Strickland churned out his surfing-spy-movie guitar riffs and the band — bassist Tracy Wormwood, drummer Sterling Campbell, and guitarist/keyboardist Paul Gordon — matched the energy of the three frontfolks. Within the swirls of kitsch, camp, and trademark unadulterated fun, Schneider remained the voice of jaded irony, noting that the world may be filled with “good architecture, but so what?/We’ve got the biggest malls around!” By the time they reached the inevitable closer, “Rock Lobster,” the Paradise crowd was awash in sweat and fresh nostalgia. Yesterday’s novel twists and quirks, grown faint over time, were given new life. Their party-time patina may not be as shiny, but the B-52’s still rock and shimmy. Check your lingering doubts and catch them at this year’s “True Colors” tour May 31 at Bank of America Pavilion.