CONCERT REVIEW: The Tubes: “Outside Inside Tour” At The Barnato, Omaha

The Tubes at Barnato in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday, July 8, 2022. (Photo credit: Dean Birkheimer)

BY DEAN BIRKHEIMER | Go Venue Magazine

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ~Carl Jung

On July 8th, 2022, The Barnato and the Blues Society of Omaha presented one of the most iconic theatrical bands of the 70s and 80s, San Francisco’s, The Tubes

Although billed as performing “The Completion Backwards Principle”, that tour was scrapped due to Covid in 2019 and 2021. Instead, the band is currently touring and showcasing their 6th studio album; Outside Inside. The 1983 album is completed in its entirety, and trust me when I tell you this, nobody minded.

Led by frontman/showman Fee WaybillThe Tubes’ current line-up also includes original members; drummer Prairie Prince, guitarist Roger Steen and bassist Atom Ellis along with longtime keyboardist David Medd. The show itself is best described by Fee via their website; “We were parody, we were comedy, we were tragedy, we were satire, we were a theatrical presentation,” Back in the day, this was all so true, but the shows of today have scaled down production values, to the point where it’s just Waybill and his character changes. Never ye mind, this was still a tremendously entertaining concert.

The show started and ended with their biggest hits, “She’s a Beauty” and “Talk to Ya Later”. In between was the rest of Outside Inside followed by songs from several albums from their large catalog. Throughout the show, Fee would leave the stage as one character and return as another, from a Top Hat wearing barker, to Quay Lewd. It was a continuous carousel of costume changes. Fee was not the only one who gleamed during the show. Steen’s guitar playing was spectacular. His sound is easily recognizable, when he’s playing, you know it’s him playing. Ellis, on bass, was a joy to watch, I do love a bass player who explores the stage and doesn’t stand in the dark all night playing quarter notes. Ellis is a big part of the show and is the shoulder Quay uses to walk on an off-stage. Prairie gave us a drum solo that I wished never ended.  He knows his kit and, much like Neil Peart, rarely misses his mark. When he did finish, the applause was almost as thunderous as the actual solo. Medd on keyboard was the perfect accompanist. He provided the atmosphere and all the fillings the songs required.

As a reviewer, I have to be objective and review what I saw, with that in mind… There was a part in the show where Fee was going to read a story to us out of National Geographic Magazine. (“Wild Women of Wongo”).  As he sat down on a bench to read to us, and while holding a glass of what appeared to be scotch, he fell backwards and tumbled to the ground in front of Prairie‘s drum kit.  Fee is not a spring chicken anymore, but the 71-year-old, held onto his drink and with a little help was back on his feet. This time he found a chair, sat and read/sang the story.  When he concluded, he rose to his feet, took off his shirt and dropped his trousers to his ankles to unveil to us all, that underneath he was wearing a jungle print leotard. Despite the fall, he did not miss a beat. He walked off-stage to complete another costumer change, while Prairie, hit us with that drum solo I mentioned earlier. When Fee returned he did so in a Bob Mackie original suit, commissioned, according to him, by Cher.  It was a purple and black stripped jacket with pants to match. A couple of the female fans in front of Fee could not help themselves and belted out how much they loved the suit. In this suit, the band gave us “Tip of My Tongue”, “Fantastic Delusion”, “Theme Park” and “Outside Lookin’ Inside”.  It was now time for another quick change, and when Fee returned he did so as a 50s Elvis type character. He and the band performed an Elvis cover, “Trouble” as well as “What Do You Want From Life” and “Tubes World Tour”.  Once again, another costume change, but this time he didn’t leave the stage. The lights went down, and he took off his jacket and shirt, and put on a bondage mask and a flashlight. With a flashlight providing the only lighting, he screamed out “Mondo Bondage”. It was actually a pretty cool version and the visuals, or lack there-of, was perfect. 

When he left the stage again, Roger got to perform and sing. Fee was off-stage for an extended period of time, to the point where Roger had to ask if he was ready yet. This could mean only one thing. It was time for Quay Lewd. For those of you who don’t know, Quay is a British Glam-Rock superstar based on David Johansen of New York Dolls fame. He wears 18-inch stacks and dawns a pair of glasses that spell out the word QUAY. He comes out with a nurse and is led to the microphone, because of course Quay is a bit “under the weather” if you know what I mean. Quay is there for two reasons. Reason 1: “I Was a Punk Before You Were a Punk”, and reason 2:  “White Punks on Dope”. Quay left the stage to deafening applause and the rest of the band followed, it was then the chanting from the crowd began.  TubesTubesTubes….

The band returned, this time Fee was just simply….Fee.  They gave a 2 song encore that started with a Beatles cover of “I Saw Her Standing There “ and their 1981 The Completion Backwards Principle hit, “Talk To Ya Later”. Before leaving the stage for good, the band bowed and Fee invited everyone to the back room for a meet and greet, just in case you wanted to shake hands. 

Huge shout out to Barnato. They did and always do an amazing job to accommodate us photographers. They are always organized, professional and cordial. We, at Go Venue Magazine, always enjoy shooting there.


She’s a Beauty – No Not Again – Out of the Business – The Monkey Time – Glasshouse – Wild Women of Wongo – Drums (including drum solo) – Tip of My Tongue – Fantastic Delusion – Theme Park – Outside Lookin’ Inside – Trouble (Elvis Presley cover) – What Do You Want From Life – Tubes World Tour – Mondo Bondage – Rogers Choice – I Was a Punk Before You Were a Punk – White Punks on Dope


I Saw Her Standing There (The Beatles cover) – Talk to Ya Later

All images © Dean Birkheimer
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