The D: The Greatest Review in the World

There is nothing quite like a concert at The Garden, the site of so many incredible sporting events and musical experiences. Elvis Presley’s unprecedented four-show sellout in 1972, Mark Messier and the Rangers’ Stanley Cup season of 1994, scores of epic Grateful Dead shows and Phish shows, that’s just scratching the surface of the venue’s rich history. And as the lights went down once again at 34th & 7th, the nearly capacity crowd made it clear they expected Tenacious D’s first-ever performance at the Garden to join this legendary list.

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After being “woken up” by applause in what was supposed to be Kyle’s duplex, they treated us to an 11-song acoustic set comprised almost entirely of D classics, highlighted by the opener, Kielbasa, Wonderboy and The Road. The elaborate stage setup was KG’s living room, complete with an empty keg on one side, a refrigerator on the other and a backdrop of the room’s wall adorned with pin-ups and a window’s view to a Cutlass Supreme in the driveway.

Lee, the self-proclaimed #1 D fan, also added to the hilarity as he strolled through the living room door, took a beer from the fridge and a hit from the bong in the corner and sat down on the couch to read the paper as the D played on. He would eventually join them for two songs while all along contributing to some playful banter about The Pick of Destiny‘s reviews and how he got a key to KG’s place, much to JB’s displeasure.

The music during this first acoustic-only set was very similar to the other two D shows I’d seen. The big difference, however, was that this was all happening at Madison Square Garden — JB’s singing and Rock God moves were that much more enthusiastic, while KG’s thrashing and absurd dance moves during Saxaboom were that much more crisp and energetic. Many of the hideously terrific quotes at the top were sung during this acoustic set, and as the predominantly standing crowd sang along, it was difficult not to be amused by the notion that this was all happening at the world’s most famous arena.

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The acoustic set ended with Jack telling Kyle they needed to turn it up a notch and go electric. The only problem was that Kyle was a slob and had allegedly spilled beer all over the pedals and wires, thus electrocuting them to hell as he attempted to plug in. Immediately following the death of JB & KG, a giant screen came down and we were treated to a movie about the formation of their new electric band, which they met in hell. The Anti-Christ signed on for guitar, Charlie Chaplin volunteered his bass skills and Colonel Sanders rounded out the new quintet on drums. Shortly after realizing their new power, the screen went back up to reveal the new backdrop for the electric set: hell.

I’ve only seen The D perform acoustic, and while I’m not going to even sniff a comparison of Bob Dylan going electric, hearing them plugged in with an electric backing band was a pretty cool Garden moment. The set opened with the lead track from The Pick of Destiny’s soundtrack, Kickapoo, which definitely sounds better with guest vocals by Meatloaf and Dio on the record. It was the next song that truly turned all dials to 11 when they absolutely demolished Explosivo, easily the loudest and most intense song of the night. At this point there was no denying this bizzarro band’s sheer power.

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Unfortunately the show’s progression got a little off the tracks after Explosivo and a few more classic D songs, Karate and Friendship. About halfway through the 15-song set, the band played almost exclusively from the The Pick of Destiny’s soundtrack, which undoubtedly lost much of the crowd. And it is not because the songs are bad, but simply because nobody knows the lines to Car Chase City as well as those to the hilarious Double Team that closed the set. A Tenacious D show is as much a crowd sing-along as it is rock/comedy show, and the new songs certainly suffered due to the lack of familiarity.

The trifecta encore of Fuck Her Gently, Tribute and an impressive medley from The Who’s Tommy brought the crowd back for a rousing finish. The FHG sing-along easily took the award for the best “I can’t believe this is happening at Madison Square Garden” moment of the night, while the Tommy medley — including Pinball Wizard and We’re Not Gonna Take It — showed off The D’s musical talents one last time.

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As much as Jack and Kyle would like you to believe, Tenacious D is not actually the greatest band in the world, but there certainly is nobody as entertaining.

(Many thanks to TeaDeeKay, teksurgical and lilvenom for their YouTube vids — if you’d like to see more, there’s plenty from MSG on YouTube)

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One Response

  1. You are CRAZY to say these musicians are not to be taken seriously. Though maybe not the greatest band in the world(Led Zeppelin *coug cough* Beatles) They ARE definitely one of the greatest bands of all time, almost definitely in the top 50. Yes they are funny and use comedy, but did Led Zeppelin not ever use comedy? Rock n Roll is about having fun and not giving a flying fuck and I think this band does that way better than any other rock n roll band I’ve ever seen in my life. Within the last 2 decades there are VERY few bands that can compare to the godliness of this band, and that is a scientific fact! FUCKING COCK-AOSS!

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