Monday, December 07, 2009

Happy birthday Tel!

It was my little brother Terry's birthday last week, and what better present could an old punk like me get an old punk like him than a ticket to see The New York Dolls at The Forum in Kentish Town on Friday...
Support came from The Urban Voodoo Machine who in addition to having the scariest drummer most of us will ever see (he's green!) include ex-Godfathers guitarist Paul Ronney (he played in one of the later line-ups) and ex-Blubbery Hellbellies accordion man Slim in their ranks. They're a very visual act, and describe themselves as 'bourbon soaked gypsy blues bop 'n' stroll' which strange as it may seem is a pretty good description of what they get up to on stage. Well worth keeping an eye out for methinks.
The Dolls kicked off just after 9 p.m. with a chaotic 'Looking For A Kiss' (you'd think that the P.A. would have been switched on when they started wouldn't you? Well- it wasn't!) before blistering versions of 'Cause I Sez So' and 'We're All In Love' made it obvious that we were going to see a classic gig. 'Yeah London' drawled David Johansen as he took off his scarf- yeah London indeed... no one drawls like Johansen and no one teeters quite so close to the edge of chaos like The Dolls- Sylvain Sylvain (Johansen- 'London's own Sylvain Sylvain; let's say his name backwards shall we- oh, it's Sylvain Sylvain') counted in 'Pills' which ground to an almost immediate halt when his guitar malfunctioned, then seconds later he counted it in again as if nothing had happened. And when a guy got on stage and danced around between Johansen and guitarist Steve Conte the band just laughed; I've seen incidents like these send primadonna ain't-never-beens into a petulant frenzy but The Dolls hardly seemed to notice that anything untoward had happened. In my not-so-humble opinion The Dolls play some of the greatest rock'n'roll any of us will ever see or hear. It really is magnificent stuff- and Conte signed my copy of his latest album when I bumped into him by the merchandise stall. Top man!

I'd originally had no gigs this weekend and had intended to go to see local heroes The Cane Toads at The Old Fox in Ickenham on Saturday evening, but I received a call from old drumming mate Roger Brewer earlier in the day to see if I was available to play guitar alongside him in The Lee Ryder Band at The Sportsman in Croxley Green. Much as it would have been good to see The Toads (I'm playing with them in a few weeks time so could have got an idea of what songs they're playing these days!) in my world it's always better to play than to listen... myself and Roger arrived just as Lee (vocals and guitar) Vince (bass) and Paul (keyboards) were loading their gear in (their regular guitarist is Simon who also plays in The Ali Mac Band among others, and who I depped for last week in that band- weird!) I set my amplifier up in front of the entrance to the gents toilet ('don't worry, they close it during gigs' said Vince, adding 'and anyway, it's obvious that it's your territory isn't it?' Hmm- let's hope so, and let's hope there's another toilet somewhere in the building!) and then joined the rest of the band for a tactical discussion. The Lee Ryder Band don't bother with silly things like rehearsals or setlists (good boys!) so it's follow-the-leader time with Lee asking us if we know a Peter Green song called 'Love That Burns'- Vince mumbled something like 'is it a good idea to start with a song we don't know?' Good question- but we did it anyway! I used my Gibson Les Paul Standard for the first time in ages which took a bit of getting used to- it's quite a bit more powerful than the Telecaster I use with the CBB show and feels a lot different too. I used a Marshall BB-2 Bluesbreaker pedal in the first set as a volume boost for solos but it made things sound a bit compressed so I switched to my MXR Micro Amp for the second set which seemed to do the trick. I'd not met Paul before (and if you've not either you can click here to find out how he usually occupies his time!) and thought he played some excellent solos, and Lee himself was on fine form throughout a highly enjoyable evening with the only really odd moment from my point of view occurring during 'Little Wing' when a guy walked past me and climbed over my amplifier on his way to the toilet...

Last night saw Kris Dollimore return to The Load of Hay for his second show there this year. Since then he's released a new album 'Now Was The Time' (some of which was recorded in his cellar!) which is every bit as good as his first release '02/01/1978'; he arrived just as I was setting up the P.A. system (I book occasional Sunday night shows there, the next one being John Hegley on January 10th) and it was great to be able to spend a bit of time talking with the man himself. The first time I remember speaking to him was at a Godfathers gig at The Town and Country Club back in the mid-'80's when I think we discussed Zemaitis guitars- he played one at the time, the lucky lad! These days he's playing an old Gibson 330 electric and a new Martin acoustic, both of which sounded fabulous during a show that was even better than the one back in May. Showcasing a fair few tracks from the new album he also played a cracking version of 'She Does It Right' (slower than the original, with a much bluesier riff) and his own extraordinary instrumental arrangement of 'Jolene' which he's considering renaming 'The Bastard Son Of Jolene' as he's changed it so much! As with last month's Attila gig I heard every excuse imaginable from people who couldn't/didn't come along ('I'm going out for a curry', 'I'm at a jam night' etc) and like then I despair of people who complain about how there's never anything to do but who didn't make the effort to see what turned out to be one of the best gigs that I've seen this year. Oh well- it's their loss, as they say... he'll be back at the same venue in around 6 months time- let's see what excuses they come up with then shall we?

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