Two nights later and I am still partially deaf. What a treat, the New York Dolls live on stage with two of the original surviving members; David Johansen vocals and harmonica and Sylvain Sylvain on guitar, joined by lead guitarist Earl Slick formerly of John Lennon and David Bowie fame with Kenny Aaronson on Bass, formerly Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and the youngest member, Jason Sutter, drummer formerly of Foreigner and Smash Mouth.
We can thank long time fan and head of the UK fan club, Morrissey for arranging a reunion back in 2004 for the Meltdown Festival. So popular was their appearance at Meltdown that an LP and DVD, under Morrissey's label Attack, were released to great acclaim. A strong signal to the NY Dolls that they are still loved and wanted, and thankfully have toured on and off ever since.
It was rumoured Frank Infante (formerly of Blondie) was to appear tonight but alas not to be, he was a no show. Nonetheless, the house was full with new converts, young and middle aged punters to witness greatness in action. Okay maybe I'm gushing a little, but this may be that last time I get to see the Dolls live given their track record for disbanding and long hiatuses and the fact they rarely tour Australia, I'm drinking this moment in and was not disappointed.
Whippet thin Johansen was greeted with a rapturous applause as he strutted on stage followed by Sylvain and fellow band members. Without any fanfare they launched into Looking for a Kiss followed quickly by Sunway Train, Bad Girl and Trash. Johansen pulled out his harmonica for a Jay Hawks cover, Stranded in the Jungle, before he addressed the crowd with a "well known North American Indian tribal saying – wherethefuckarewe?" And that's about all Johansen said during the gig, and when he did speak he wasn't heard very clearly. Either he has a thin voice or I was already deafened. Looking like a blonde Mick Jagger, Johansen read the lyrics from a music stand, laughed and smiled at the audience and appeared genuinely pleased with the response.
Legendary guitarist Earl Slick pulled out all the classic rock moves especially on Bo Diddley's Rock n Roll Nurse, a showstopper which displayed his experience with effortless guitar riffs, followed by Fabulous. Sylvain did most of the talking throughout the night, playing up to the audience, giving a little history on the band and at one stage throwing himself in the mosh pit surrounded by adoring fans. He has an easy rapport with the audience and loves to banter. He told us he originally got the name The Dolls when he worked opposite a New York Doll Hospital – repair shop. Covet in plain sight.
At one stage I went into the centre of the room, then out to the bar area then eventually outside to listen, to get better grasp of the over-all sound but by that stage my ears were ringing too loudly to hear anything clearly.
While Johansen caught his breath, the band did an instrumental version of I Love Candy before launching into Personality Crisis, Gimme Luv, Turn On the Light and There's Gonna be a Showdown. Suddenly the boys were joined on stage by a female; I'm unsure if she was a back up singer as she came late to the event, regardless, her vocals were drowned out by the ear bleedingly loud mix, albeit her appearance added a new flavour and she was obviously enjoying herself as were the whole band, creating an infectious atmosphere.
I was so focused on Johansen, Sylvain and Slick whose aura's seemed to suck all my attention, I all but forgot about the rhythm section, Sutter on drums and bassist Aaronson, who was happy to mill around the background. Both were brilliant and looked like they were loving every minute of it.
I can't remember what the Dolls finished with. I was gone by that stage, caught up in the moment and mosh pit.
The New York Dolls will leave you with a smile on your dial. I was with two young girls who had never heard of them other than their father espousing their greatness, and who is he but an old fogey? They came under sufferance and left as screaming converts. Literally.
The New York Dolls are the original 70s glam rock punk band with R&B undertones who influenced so many: The Sex Pistols, Ramones, The Clash, The Damned. The Pixies and many more.