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Wednesday, April 10, 2002



Though it's probably not their fault, Weezer are generally credited with creating rock's now passe nerd-slacker ethic: The band's catchy Ric Ocasek-produced 1993 debut album could have been titled "Songs About Beer and Masturbation." Led by rock's most reluctant star, Rivers Cuomo ("Anything real is almost too painful to talk about"), Weezer's multiplatinum success allowed the group to pursue their real goal of not working all the time. The band's only overachiever, bassist Matt Sharp, formed his own band, The Rentals, as a side project, which he has since turned to full time, having quit Weezer in 1998.

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Sharp's departure was understandable, since at the time Cuomo, by his own account, was paralyzed by indecision and self-doubt. Weezer's second album, "Pinkerton," was neither as terrible (Rolling Stone named it the worst album of 1996) nor as great (a number of popular emo-core bands name it as their bible) as opposing camps would have it, but in any case it didn't sell nearly as many copies as the crunchy, poppy debut. And whereas Cuomo's reluctance to cash in quickly on the debut's success was mainly due to his class load at Harvard, the long drought that followed "Pinkerton" was obviously the result of disappointment and heartache.

Japanese fans can take some credit for the success, both commercially and artistically, of Weezer's long-awaited third album, which was released a little less than a year ago. Having a mutual admiration for Japan ("Pinkerton" is a concept album based on "Madame Butterfly"), Cuomo has always enjoyed playing here, and reportedly the band's triumphant performances here two years ago helped inspire the new album, which revives the melodic brilliance of the debut while jettisoning its adolescent ironies.

Made up almost entirely of love songs, the "green album," as the eponymous record has been dubbed by fans, is a barely disguised plea for reconciliation. "Anything you desire," Cuomo tells his fans, "I will set at your feet." And describing those years of writer's block, he confesses, "When you're on a holiday, you can't find the words to say all the things that come to you." Miraculously, he seems to have found them again, and Tokyoites have acknowledged his return to form by buying up all the tickets to Weezer's first-ever Budokan concert within hours of their going on sale. Fortunately, they've added two more Tokyo shows, which seems only fair.

Weezer plays May 16, 7 p.m., at Zepp Sendai (Kyodo Tohoku, [022] 296-8888); May 18 & 26, 6 p.m., at Zepp Tokyo (H.I.P., [03] 3475-9999; phone sales start April 13 at noon, general sales April 20); May 19, 6 p.m., at Zepp Fukuoka (Kusu, [092] 791-0999); May 20, 7 p.m., at Hiroshima Club Quattro (Home TV, [082] 221-7116); May 22, 7 p.m., at Zepp Osaka (H.I.P., [06] 6362-7301); May 25, 6:30 p.m., at Aichi Koseinenkin Kaikan, Nagoya (Kyodo Tokai, [052] 962-0511); and May 27 at the Budokan, Tokyo (H.I.P., [03] 3475-9999). Tickets are 6,500 yen.

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