Ian Hunter, Highline Ballroom, New York, June 23, 2007

Ian Hunter? Former lead singer of Mott the Hoople, 70s British semi-glam rock band, most well-known for “All the Young Dudes,” “All the Way from Memphis,” and possibly “Roll Away the Stone” and “Just Another Night (tho’ you’d need a good memory to bring the last two into focus).

Mott was a particular brand of unmistakably 70s British rock, very much of its time and place. David Bowie wrote “All the Young Dudes” for them, Mick Ronson was a member for a while; another member went on to form Bad Company. . . . I can have a certain affection for them, but no urge to see them. But Ian Hunter is one of a long line of old British guys with guitars that my husband will go see. Whenever. Wherever.

In any case, I have now been to see Ian Hunter three times. In each case, i have been one of about probably about 5 females in the room. Okay, maybe about 25. And each time I go in groaning and wind up leaving with a certain nostalgic smile.

But the demographics! The first time at the so-called “New Ritz”, which inhabited the old Studio 54 space for about 10 months or so in the late 80s, my friend Claire was hit on by an aging Steve Jones. The second time, at Irving Plaza, an aging British man handed me his card repeatedly, affably informing me that he ran “Rock and Roll” tours to London, and that I was welcome to accompany him at any time. The third time was Saturday night, where, yes, an aging British man affably elbowed me repeatedly with a wink and a nod, companionably raising his beer bottle and singing to me every once in a while. (the hubby finds this hilarious for some reason.)

Still, even I was charmed by the end of Saturday night. Although Ian is at least 68 years old, and must spend much of the show sitting, he puts on a hell of a show, and he still packs ’em in. That stalwart old-time British showmanship has not left him, and like Ray Davies and many another Brit rocker of the 70s, there’s a more than a bit of that old music-hall entertainer and winking bonhomie in his stage presence, as well as some serious 70s rock guitar and piano.

I admit I mainly went to see pal James Maestro (in hat, at right) play – he’s backed up Robert Plant, plays w/Ian all the time. Guess his specialty is backing up old British guys, and hey, there are worse places to be! The lead guitarist, MC Bosch, was actually quite amazing. Ian stuck to vocals and acoustic guitar, and Ian’s coproducer and former guitarist Andy York joined the band for the five-song encore, which became a fairly spectacular five-guitar extravaganza.

The last song of the finale included backing vocals by Mick Ronson’s son and Ian’s daugther Jessie. Very sweet, very British, and hey, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next show featured his grandkids.

Ya get the idea that all the young dudes may have left the building, but the old dude’s gonna be rocking out on stage as long as he can hold a guitar.

Here’s a set list, courtesy www.twi-ny.com (which also features a fine review of this show)
Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Twisted Steel
Words (Big Mouth)
Wash Us Away
Seeing Double
Soul of America
I Wish I Was Your Mother
Shrunken Heads
Angeline
23A Swan Hill
The Ballad of Mott the Hoople
Just Another Night
How’s Your House
All the Way from Memphis
Dead Man Walkin’

encores with Andy York
When the World Was Round
Irene Wilde
Roll Away the Stone
Saturday Gigs
All the Young Dudes

Peaches, with raunch dressing – Wed 06/20/07 New York

Peaches, Highline Ballroom, New York City, Wednesday 06/20/07 10:30pm

Last night, at 10pm, I got off the L train with the best-looking group of chicks I’d seen in a long time. The young and faintly arty were out in force. Sky-high stiletto stripper shoes, gold lame minis, all manner of strings and loops masquerading at shirts – and tho’ I’ll bet most of these wholesome chix worked in mid-level publishing, marketing and sales somewhere, (like me!) everybody was primed for fun, fun, fun — with mild raunch-style dressing on the side.

They were there for Peaches, creator of the immortal “Impeach My Bush,” “Shake Yr Tits,” and of course,”Fuck the Pain Away,” electroclash’s noisiest, cheesy, and possibly most endearing provocateur.

Female empowerment? Female debasement? Post-structural subverter of roles? Aging paunchy chick doing drag queen version of being a woman? Past her moment? Too Canadian? Does anyone even care? Everybody was having fun where I was.

She took the stage, carried thru the crowd on her handlers’s shoulders shouting out the lyrics to “Impeach My Bush.” Being at the front side of stage,

my pal Monique and I saw this as Peaches climbed aboard.

With no band, no backup, and a black plastic Hefty bag of costumes, she performed a sort of karaoke burlesque send-up, strutting and posing on stage, doing her own costume changes in full view of the audience, pulling lam[accent]e and glittery things from that black plastic Hefty bag on the bare, bare stage.

A rousing “Two Guys for Every Girl,” “Suck My . . .,” and “Downtown” followed.

 
She entertained; got the guitar our after one of my faves, “AA XXX,”

Chugged a beer in one gulp, drank whiskeys supplied by the audience, poured water over her head and shook her hair like a dog, and camped it up big time. The costumes were a riot – at one point she exclaimed, “I’m ridiculous! I love it.”
{NOTE TO THE PRUDES – these costumes are FAKE plastic. But if you are shockable: DON’T LOOK! JUST DON’T! Okay.}
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A hot “Hot Rod”

and a triumphant “Fuck the Pain Away”

closed the set.

And she treated the audience to a video as a finale, a send-up of a send-up. Riffing on Alanis’s riff on Fergie, Peaches’ “My Dumps” is . . . everything you’d expect it to be. A reflection; a projection:



Something tasty, there, Peaches?

Joan Armatrading, World Financial Center, New York, June 12, 2007

Joan Armatrading’s voice was almost always in the background, floating out of someone’s room in my college dorm (mid-80s, women’s college – scene set. done)

I always thought it was a great voice – kinda wide and deep and expressive, even if people say she’s not a good singer. “Drop the Pilot” is such a great song – if you heard it, I’ll bet you’d know it, even if you think you don’t.

Joan played Tuesday night at the River to River Festival, an outdoor free show, at the World Financial Center. Next to the big boat basin, next to the bizarre Cleveland-esque Winter Garden mall. Whatever! The place was packed come 7pm, and not with an after-work Financial Center crowd.

It POURED rain at 7pm. The audience — pairs of contented matrons who had probably listened to Joan in their 80s dorms, lots and lots of families with kids, and quite a few old counterculture-y guys, was surprisingly packed with 20-somethings, too, both girls and guys. All waited pretty good-naturedly for the rain to end, which it did just at 7:30.

Touring to support her new record “Into the Blues,” Joan didn’t say much for the first four songs – which weren’t that great. (And um, neither was her haircut. Go back to natural! ahem.) Just before the fourth song, she finally warmed up a bit to the audience, reaching out w/that great British accent, revealing those songs were from the new album, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Blues charts. The fourth tune, the album’s eponymous single, “into the Blues,” was the first song I liked.

Everything loosened up from there – her keyboard player, the drummer and sax guy (who played nearly the entire show with his mouth gaping open very oddly – was he catching flies? thirsty? highly disconcerting), and the bassist, armed with several excellent basses, one of which consisted entirely of a neck with strings and nothing else.) And the music.

“Love and Affection” was 12-string and sax (hard to go wrong there); the audience sang along (faltering a bit) with “All the Way from America,” and Joan finally got into it, rolling out that big expressive voice at last and joyfully trying to get in as many songs as possible. (alas, the concert had to end on time – hey, there’s a WFC curfew! who knew.) She packed in “(I Love It When You) Call Me Names” and “Me Myself I.”

She finally got the nod to do an encore, asking the audience to vote for either “Willow” (too slow for me, never a fave) or the perennial fave “Drop the Pilot” – an early MTV hit, my companion recalled.

They voted for “Willow”; she did both, ending up with a bang. Thank goodness I never saw that MTV video. The finale was a good one to remember.

The set list, if you wanna know:

1. (didn’t know it)
2. A Woman in Love
3. Show Some Emotion
4. Something’s Gotta Blow
5. Into the Blues
6. Tall in the Saddle
7. Love and Affection (12-string and sax)
8. All the Way from America (audience sing-along
9. My Baby’s Gone (Come Back Baby) (slide)
10. You Rope You Tie Me
11. Call Me Names (I Love It When)
12. Me Myself I

13. Willow
14. Drop the Pilot

Dinosaur Jr, Irving Plaza, NYC, June 7, 2007

holy shit. I’m deaf.

Last night’s Dinosaur Jr show at Irving Plaza was

LOUD LIKE THIS.

When my head cleared and they turned the lights down, the unlovely J. Mascis emerged like, well, a dinosaur. Swinging that long skanky gray hair.

stomping and tearing all over the place with monstrous guitar solos.

I was in my twenties last time these guys came round; they always struck me as very decent, but nothing special.  Yes, they were founders of the 90s indie rock explosion, but in the late 80s I was def more Husker than Dinosaur. This reunion of the original members is fascinating – their debt to Seventies Guitar Rock is SO clear and so fabulous! I thought of Black Sabbath, late Joe Walsh (not the pop crap), Ozzy, even a little Outlaws in the solos. Birthday Party, too, maybe – and I love their Cure cover. They are still some kinda hardcore-metal hybrid, but the metal was front and center last night. Interesting that they reminded me of Sugar a LOT – the 90s band of former Husker Du’s Bob Mould.

Bassist Lou Barlow ripped and slashed at the bass but mostly built some kind of giant gnarly blocks of noise that Mascis’s guitar lines climbed up and over and then took off from, soaring way up there pterodactyl-like and taking most of the incredibly pumped audience with him.

The sound was fucking GREAT. Clear, loud, well-defined. The crowd was great – a mosh pit like it used to be and some expert surfing.

Their latest album Beyond has got some definite alt-country-punk Son Volt-ish stuff in there; it was nowhere in evidence last night. Pure loud guitar anchored by Murph’s drums.

courtesy their message board, here’s a set list.

Almost Ready
Just Like Heaven
Back to Your Heart
(*from here it’s out of order*)
Been There All the Time
This is All…
Little Fury Things
Pick Me Up
Crumble
Out There
Feel the Pain
Gargoyle (with far-out crazy extended solo at the end)
Freak

Bulbs
Lose
Raisans

whew

Well, clearly that photo pass did me no good! Should’a rolled it up and put it in my ears. Cause. I. Am. Deaf. Today.

No wonder those old guys like Iggy and J Mascis play so loud. They’re ALL fuckin’ deaf! Rock on.