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NEW YORK DOLLS, 100 Club, London 14 May 2009
Photo by Paul
So what are to make of the glam proto-punk rockers the New York Dolls in
With the passing of Johnny Thunders, Jerry Nolan and more recently Arthur
Kane, the band are based around their surviving core members, the charismatic
vocalist David Johansen (think Jagger meets Robyn Askwith) and his diminutive
fiery guitar playing partner Sylvain Sylvain.
Former Hanoi Rocks bass player Sámi Yaffa adds a more contemporary touch
of androgyny and guitarist Steve Conte make a good fist of imitating Johnny
Thunders’ shapes, while drummer Brian ‘fancy pants’ Delaney’ holds it all down
Photo by Paul Bachmann
In many respects the band are like a cartoon characters come to life. But
this is one shit kicking garage band with an r&b heart and a batch of new
songs from their impressive ‘Cause I Sez So’ album that suggests they
might extend their resurrected career for a good few years yet.
In many respects the 100 Club was the perfect setting, a hot sweaty
unpretentious club with a r&b and punk h istory and this is after all the band
that has been described as ‘blues with mascara’ but with a punkly edge.
Perhaps much like punk itself the The New York Dolls are best remembered
as a band that went on to influence future musical generations, but if nothing
else this show suggested they still have plenty to give in their own right.
Given the Johnny Thunders, MC5, Damned, Stooges T shirts and presence of
support band Spizz ‘Where’s Captain Kirk’ Energi everything pointed to a
nostalgic return to the late 70’s. But in fact the Dolls pre-dated punk and in
the case of ‘Jet Boy’ (thrillingly reprised tonight) they were a direct
influence on bands like The Ramones.
Photo by Paul Bachmann
Perhaps it was a combination of Johansen’s mirror image of Jagger and the
band’s r&b leanings that made them unpalatable to 70’s UK audiences. Over
3 decades later they seem to have finally found their niche as agent
provocateurs on the post punk garage scene. Their unflappable high octane
show in cauldron like conditions cast a surprisingly wide musical net,
with the recently re-recorded ‘Trash’ even slipping into a surprising
The Dolls also enjoyed a couple of hearty call and response sequences on
the primal stomp of ‘Babylon’ and the rapturously received cover of Bo Diddley’s
‘Pills’. And as if to demonstrate their soft core, they even worked up a full
blown love-in on the Johansen harp led ‘We’re All In Love’.
But it was the impressive newer efforts like the funky groove of ‘Nobody
Got No Biznis’, the bone crunching wall of sound riffs of ‘Muddy Bones’ (vocally
reminiscent of Eddie & The Hot Rods) and best of all the chanted hook of the
very catchy new single ‘Cause I Sez So’ that augers well for the future.
Sylvain worked the audience to the max and put the emphasis on fun with
another enthusiastic call and response sequence on the shifting tempo changes of
‘Stranded in the Jungle’.
Johansen meanwhile displayed that priceless ability to wander across the
stage with a confused look and an occasional perfunctory clap of the hands to
bring him back to the present.
In short The New York Dolls rocked the house, took us up, down, sideways
and then back to the top again. And when at the end Johansen proclaimed ‘I think
we did a pretty good rock & roll show’, what do you think’? no one in the house
was about to argue.
Review by Pete
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