The New York Dolls show turned out to be a lot of fun. They were loud and rockin’, and I thought my right ear might have been permanently destroyed. But by this morning it had bounced back, so it clearly wasn’t a Cheap Trick-level assault. Cheap Trick ringing will last for upwards of a week. And that shit’s scary.
Steve and I left my house around two o’clock yesterday afternoon, and sat in the standard Philadelphia traffic for a long, long time. Finally, we arrived in the Chinatown section, and paid some guy $11 for the privilege of leaving my car on a trash-strewn lot. I’m not even sure he worked there.
Why is it always humid in Philadelphia? Every time it’s sticky and gross — regardless of season. Yesterday was no different. It wasn’t very hot, but every pore on my body swung wide open the moment I stepped out of the car. And mister, I have a lot of pores.
We went to a store Steve wanted to check out, called Mitchell and Ness. He’d been there before, but it was my first time. They sell exact reproductions of sports jerseys, and that sort of thing, and the prices are pretty breathtaking.
I happened upon a 1969 Johnny Bench road jersey, and since he’s my favorite player, I asked one of the employees for the price.
Him: Need help with anything?
Me: Yeah, how much is this Johnny Bench?
Him: Let’s see, that one’s $275.
Me: …Steve, I’ll be waiting outside.
Then we went to Moriarty’s Pub for dinner and a couple of mildly disappointing microbrews. They have a lot of beers on tap, and I wanted to sample some stuff I’d never tried before.
So, I went with an IPA that had the word “steam” in the name (not Anchor Steam). I can’t remember what it was called, but it was from Colorado and had an aftertaste that I didn’t like. Maybe rotting vegetables? Possibly bottom of the Kroger dumpster? I wasn’t able to put my finger on it.
Then we each had a Flying Fish Farmhouse Summer Ale, and it was better but not great. In fact, it was fairly dull; it could’ve been a Michelob Light.
On a happier note, the shepherd’s pie was excellent. Better, in fact, than the version I was served in England. The stuff I got there was greasy and gristly, and not very good. Last night’s was delicious.
After leaving Moriarty’s we walked directly across the street to an Irish pub apparently called — get this — Irish Pub. There we each had a Stoudt’s Pale Ale, which was just what the doctor ordered. The downside? $5.50 per pint.
Around eight o’clock we went to the show, and the third of three opening bands had just started playing. They were called Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, and sounded really good. Funky, man.
Then there was a too-long wait, and eventually (finally!) the current version of the New York Dolls took the stage.
David Johansen looks like he weighs about 100 pounds, and has arms like a 12 year old girl. Time (he’s about 60 now) and rough living has taken a toll on his face, and this is approximately what he looks like at this point.
But, of course, he’s a natural-born rock star, with charisma to spare. He’s one of the all-time great frontmen, and still possesses whatever mysterious magic such creatures possess.
Sylvain Sylvain, the only other original member, was extremely animated throughout the show, and seemed to be having a blast. Whenever he wasn’t sporting a “guitar face,” he was smiling and laughing.
The lead guitarist was good, but looked a lot like Johnny Thunders. Is that wise? I’m not sure it is. I groaned when I saw him take the stage.
But the band sounded great. They were loud and rocking, and played a mixture of old and new songs. Often in those kinds of situations everybody just wants to hear the old favorites. But I thought the new songs held up well, and the crowd was into all of it.
Here’s a pic I snapped with my cell phone. You can see that we were standing pretty close to the stage — hence my temporary hearing loss.
About two-thirds of the way into the show the band went into some kind of overdrive, and took it up another notch. They had the audience whipped into a frenzy, and a group of dipshits dressed like 1977 London punks started moshing and slamming, and all that stuff.
Why do some people insist on dressing like rock stars when they go see rock stars? I mean, I like baseball, but don’t feel the need to wear a full Cincinnati Reds uniform, glove, and batting helmet when I go to the stadium.
Oh wait, we were looking at replica jerseys earlier in the evening, weren’t we? Never mind…
Anyway, I was standing near it all, and some shitpouch came careening out of the crowd and torpedoed me in the side with his outsize blockhead. It was a direct hit, and I almost went down. Once I regained my bearings I shoved him away, and moved a little farther back.
A few minutes later (during “Trash”) the same guy knocked-down a woman who looked like she was sixty years old. Sent her all the way to the floor, with both feet sticking straight up… It’s a wonder she didn’t explode her pelvis, or something.
Man, I really hate that particular brand of idiot. Ya know? I was hoping someone would kick his ass, but it never happened, unfortunately.
And there really were a lot of oldsters there. It was an odd mix of young and old. I sometimes feel like a grandpa at shows, but not this one. Some of the people standing near us looked to be the same age as my parents.
At two o’clock was, I believe, Karl Rove, continuously clapping his hands in beat, like he was at a tent revival singing an old Negro spiritual. And to our left was Clint Eastwood, I think, standing with Cliff from Cheers. Mixed-in were college kids, and everyone in-between. It was fairly bizarre.
Near the end of the show the Dolls acknowledged the 900 lb gorilla in the room, and paid tribute to their late, great guitarist Johnny Thunders. Johansen and Sylvain sang “Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory,” and said “We miss you, Johnny,” or something similar.
It took away some of the sour taste left by the imitation Johnny on the right side of the stage.
“Personality Crisis” was the encore, and the assholes were outdoing themselves during that one. There was a swirling whirlpool of elbows and douchebags in the middle of the floor, and senior citizens were being knocked around. I saw Karl Rove head for the hills, while still keeping the beat.
We got home around 2:30 am, and Steve had another 75 miles to drive from here. I haven’t heard from him, so hopefully he made it.
Next up: the Eels, if/when they tour to support their new album. Oh, we’ll be there. And that’ll mean two shows in one calendar year. We’re getting pretty wild, aren’t we?
I’ll see you guys on Monday.
Have a great weekend.