To think that the New York Dolls had yet to play CBGB prior to this evening should come as a surprise to many. Alas, the punk icons who have been cited time and time again as the genesis of such artis
To think that the New York Dolls had yet to play CBGB prior to this evening should come as a surprise to many. Alas, the punk icons who have been cited time and time again as the genesis of such artists as Talking Heads, Blondie, Television and Patti Smith never played a note in the famed East Village club. With the planned closing of CBGB this coming October, it was a natural choice for the Dolls to book this one-off and play what could be characterized as a bittersweet homecoming.
The reincarnated Dolls are not what they were in the 70's, with only two of the original members still around (David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain). They have recruited a solid trio to round out the sound, and to their credit, they picked youngsters, who are more than happy to bring the noise and the look.
Fast and furious is what we'd expect from a small Dolls show, and in anticipation the crowed was packed shoulder to shoulder as the glamsters took the stage. Johansen's trademark scraggly hair was juxtaposed against a very form-fitting pink shirt and loads of gold, glittery jewelry. They immediately launched into the classic "Looking for a Kiss," with Johansen's voice sounding rough and gruff per usual but just as powerful.
The set lasted a bit over an hour and featured a solid mix of oldies and new songs from their yet-to-be titled Roadrunner release, along with a few covers added for good measure. The Dolls' live sound these days is very hard blues, accented by Johansen's harmonica wails and faint keyboards. "Puss 'N' Boots" got things really cooking three songs in, but the unfamiliar "Plenty of Music" appeared to fall on deaf ears. In turn, Johansen sarcastically acknowledged the audience response by noting, "it sounds like a golf game in here."
Among the other new tunes, "Punishing World" was pounding and raucous, as if it has been plucked from an early '70s session. "Dance Around Like a Monkey" had some pretty hokey lyrics but was revved up by fast drumbeat.
Obligatory shout-outs were directed toward the recently departed Nikki Sudden and the infamous late Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders. Appropriately, the night's only real slow down, "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory," was dedicated Thunders and found Sylvain and Johansen sharing vocals.
After a cover of Bo Diddley's "Rainbow Store" and the Dolls classic "Personality Crisis," the band ushered itself out of the historic venue for what could be the last time. The punk of the Bowery might be just about dead, but tonight, the Dolls couldn't have cared less.
Here is the New York Dolls' set list:
"Looking for a Kiss"
"We're All in Love"
"Puss 'N' Boots"
"Plenty of Music"
"Piece of My Heart"
"You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory / Lonely Planet Boy"
"Dance Like a Monkey"