Tenacious D – REVIEWED!

2024 seems be the year of the giant arena tours, with the likes of Foo Fighters, Bring Me The Horizon and Taylor Swift busting out the big guns all around the UK, you’d be forgiven for thinking a mock-rock band of humble origins wouldn’t be a huge scene this year. JB would tell us to never underestimate the power of rock, and with over fifteen thousand piling into the Birmingham Resorts World Arena tonight – a completely sellout show – it’s clearly going to be a wild one.

We take a quick gander at the merchandise offerings, but are unsettled to find t-shirts peaking at £50 (ouch) and the cheapest being £35 – half of what a standing ticket cost tonight, which is diabolically expensive when you consider two non-purchases of a tee could get you another ticket to a huge tour show. I do rate their alternative merch choices like tabi/sandal socks, bags of branded plectrums, and crocs charms – they’re much more in the realm of affordability and are something different than yet another black band tee. Here’s my heartfelt plea to bands to push smaller merch offerings that are at the £5-£20 mark, we all wanna participate but… cozzie livs innit.

VIP Nation patrons however, were also able to pick up a Jack Black curated fan gift with their priority seating tickets, comprising of a very fun Tenacious D pizza box, red apron, tea-towel and lanyard – all branded with the Spicy Meatball artwork.

Dave Hill

As the arena begins to fill, we are treated to the very weird but funny musical/comedy stylings of support act Dave Hill. Dressed in a Slipknot-esque boilersuit which is covered in whimsical floral and animal patches, he races onto the stage pretending to… well, fuck shit up, I suppose. He proceeds to play three or four chords on his axe between mumbling, kicking and moshing. I am bemused, but also amused. At one point he even grabs a pair of nunchucks and cavorts wildly about the stage.

© Anna Hyams for SFG. Do not use without permission.

Finally he settles down slightly, and jokes “Great to be back here in Birmingham… The Paris of the Midlands. I’ve not been back here in ten years! For legal reasons…” before taking requests, for what turns out to be the first 5 seconds of any song yelled out. Yes, it was Freebird.

What follows is a very strange rant about Poundland – “Poundland, we sell everything but dignity” and then some pick-up lines that “will only work in Birmingham”. Dave smiles slightly, betraying his persona “Are you the west midland metro making stops between Birmingham and Wolverhampton? If you are I’d like to ride you all the way free of charge”. I don’t really know what I make of it all to be honest, he’s definitely not a traditional opener, but he gets the laughs and is actually a more than decent guitartist. Oh and I will always appreciate someone who exits the stage on a BMX for no discernable reason whatsoever.

© Anna Hyams for SFG. Do not use without permission.

Tenacious D

The stage lights dim to the mightiest roar from the packed arena, as the choral opening music from Tenacious D’s ‘The Pick of Destiny’ movie, sets the scene.

Strutting calmly on stage the duo, Kyle Gass and Jack Black revel in the full force thunder of the crowd. Taking their places in front of two red devil-hand mic stands they steal a quick nod to each other before launching into story-setting memoir song Kickapoo. Despite knowing the words myself, I don’t think I was really prepared for how much of tonight would feel like a Rocky Horror singalong – EVERYONE and their rockin’ mother was giving it a ruddy good go.

© Anna Hyams for SFG. Do not use without permission.

With his signature wry smile, Jack laughs “So Birmingham… Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin. There must be something in the water here, Rock. Rock is in the water. This might be the rock capital of the world” before sweeping his sweaty hair out of his face and catching a helpful fan’s scrunchie from the crowd, to tie it up.

Low Hangin’ Fruit and Rize of the Fenix come with a side of “Any of you seen our film ‘Pick of Destiny’? NOT AT THE CINEMA YOU DIDN’T” referencing the flop that almost scuppered the band, and requesting pyrotechnics which never materialised. “When we planned this tour, we had to rock a bit harder, be a bit spicier, we had to have pyro!” they yell as a very underwhelming single flame spurts from the stage.

Wonderboy rolls on to arguably the most anticipated song of the night, whose opening chords draw a huge cheer from the fans. A huge inflatable Satan at the back of the stage heralds the iconic

Tribute, and at one point the band are almost drowned out by everyone singing. Coming up from their bows, both adopt a slight stagger, joking “We’re getting too old for this shit.” before Jack snaps a quick high kick and a toe touch jump and shouts “Nope, still got it” to tremendous applause.

© Anna Hyams for SFG. Do not use without permission.

Next up is Video Games, followed by The Metal – in which a very Iron-Maiden-esque stage walker robot (that looks a bit like one of the goblin suits from Labyrinth with David Bowie) stomps his way across the stage to dance, rock, and at one point pretend to slam Jack doggy style. Then, as a treat “I need a palette cleanser… Sax-a-Boom please!” Jack shouts, and the now infamous children’s toy is ferried to the stage.

The Sax-a-Boom solo is summarily upstaged when KG brings out a ‘Max-a-Boom’, a giant version which plays funnily enough like a real sax, and the iconic Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty solo. Miffed, Jack calls for a Max-a-Boom removal, “Oh my fucking god, that’s Dana! She’s best roadie in the business right there” and a nice segue into Roadie, with the pronouns thoughtfully changed to ‘she’ throughout the song.

There’s a fun little skit of a silent argument “Hey Kyle can we talk by the drums, no mics please?” and KG pretending to quit, which lines up the lament Dude (I Totally Miss You) and the whole arena using their phone torch lights to join in. Kyle returns, there’s a joyful screened video of the pair leaping through the waves on a beach, and we get a rendition of Chris Issak’s Wicked Game before we come to another iconic D song. “KG… I think there’s something wrong with our electric guitar player… I think he’s possessed… BY SATAN”. Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown) is everything you want from Tenacious D, kinda camp, slightly ridiculous, and heaps of fun. We even get a double recorder solo from KG – which in the UK is everyone’s starter instrument at school, and every parent’s worst nightmare.

© Anna Hyams for SFG. Do not use without permission.

A traditional band intro/solo section is absolutely gratuitous but in keeping with their classic metal pastiche, they thank the sound crew and the lighting crew (who also get to do a lighting solo, love that) before Jack Black takes his own solo starting with the opening of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs. 10/10 very topical and locational, absolutely every voice in this place is joining in.

After a brief encore, Good Times Bad Times (a Led Zeppelin cover) is chased up by the excellent Master Exploder. “We don’t often perform this one because it’s too hard to perform live. This is The Spicy Meatball Tour though… are you ready KG?”“Hahahaha I’m not ready, it’s too hard!” they joke. There’s a moment where Jack finally produces the Pick of Destiny and holds it aloft “God that would have been a good time for pyro. I even cued it up! BIFFY PYRO TO THE STAGE NOW”. It is a very kitschy skit with a bumbling pyro guy and a big red button, but it’s part of the charm and comedy. The Spicy Meatball Song (to the tune of Indiana Jones) is very funny, but we close with Fuck Her Gently and the entire crowd singing along again. Finally, we get the big stage fireworks and flame cannons, and the band triumphantly leave the stage with their arms in the air. Biffy Pyro is left alone, grinning smugly.

It’s hard to categorise Tenacious D, because ultimately they are a comedy show – and all the skits drive the narrative of the night, but I think it’s really important to note that underneath all of that, they’re just damn good songwriters and musicians. Tonight was a blast, a well deserved sell-out tour.

© Anna Hyams for SFG. Do not use without permission.