After reviewing Richie’s first solo offering Entitled a few weeks back, and then having the great pleasure of interviewing him, I was more than a little pleased to trundle up to Camden on a frosty Saturday and see whether the live show offered by the man known as “The Ramones‘ Fastest Drummer” lived up to the hype. Camden Barfly however, is the teeniest venue in the world. When I first walked in, I was a little bit horrified if I’m honest – this is Richie Ramone we’re talking about here, this isn’t a local band who haven’t hit the big venues yet. I was kind of expecting a bigger stage – it’s smaller than the one at my local! It didn’t help that at that point there were less than twenty people in the room (including one of the bands) and I was surprised – I’d been expecting a horde of Ramones fans! More on that a bit later.
Anyway, in my not especially qualified opinion, Punk roughly falls into five categories – the Discordant, The Angry/Political, The Femme, The Classic, and The Pop. Bands will sometimes occupy multiple categories simultaneously, but generally speaking I’ll listen to anything except The Discordant because those guys can’t actually play their instruments and I don’t like hurting my ears.
I hadn’t heard either of the support acts for the night – I like to keep support acts I haven’t listened to yet as a surprise – it’s always nice to turn up and see someone completely new to me.
The Idol Dead are strictly speaking a rock band, but I think they straddle The Classic and The Pop beautifully. They’re upbeat enough to be accessible to an audience who have limited experience of punk but they have enough hallmarks of bands gone by that they’re actually GOOD.
I couldn’t take a decent picture because they didn’t stand still long enough for me to do so, so I apologise for the blurry offering above. I don’t mind though because I’ve seen headline bands with sold out crowds (Metallica, I am looking at you) put less energy into their sets than these guys put into playing the opening slot in a poky room in Camden. My local has a bigger gig room than the Barfly, as I’ve said before, but the way these guys played you’d think they were playing a sold out Donington. Musically speaking they are extremely competent, stage presence-wise they were gripping and I challenge anyone to listen to their latest album and not end up sticking it on repeat. As a first opener Richie Ramone couldn’t have picked better really. Their latest album Hollow Point Curse is available on BandCamp – for the love of rock go and buy it so they can keep doing what they do and I can go bop around in the front row to them again.
Next up were Generation Graveyard and my first thought was “I assume these guys get a discount on skinny jeans and denim cuts by buying in bulk. If they don’t, they’ve missed a business trick”. Anyway they had a hard act to follow after The Idol Dead ripped up the Barfly.
However, I now have a bone to pick with whoever it was who didn’t tell me that Death Metal and Punk had crossbred and spawned a deadly baby in Generation Graveyard? These guys are dark and twisty and I re-pulled my ruptured stomach muscles headbanging to them. They somehow manage to combine Death Metal riffs with punk beats and vocals I can’t even describe. Go check out Human Hive – it was the definite highlight of the set for me. They’ve assured me they have touring plans for next year and they’ve definitely gone on my ‘must go see’ list.
So by this point in the evening, I was sweaty and hurting and my neck muscles were promising that Sunday would bring a bangover of Epic proportions. I hadn’t expected to see such amazing support acts – normally I end up not liking at least one of them.
The room had filled to bursting point and the front row were rammed up against the stage.
It was now Richie Time.
It’s hard to know what to say at this point. Folks who read the album review I wrote will know that a) Richie is my favourite Ramone and b) he has Alex Fucking Kane and Claire P from Anti-Product in his band. Given I pretty much think Anti-Product are the Greatest Punk Band Who Ever Walked The Earth this means I’m reviewing from a massive disadvantage – my inner 15 year old fan gurl is fucking squeaking away and my calm 31 year old journalist self is totally relegated.
Hyperbole aside lets get the objective stuff out of the way. Richie is not a brilliant singer – he’s very good, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not brilliant. The band are tight though – both Claire and Alex have huge stage presence and work together flawlessly – they’re both born showmen.
What Richie misses in vocal strength, he makes up for on drums and in terms of presence. He has a certain energy on stage which younger front men struggle to emulate – on stage he is utterly sure of exactly who he is, and he doesn’t second guess himself for a second. From the minute he hit the stage (introduced by Matt Stocks from the Punk Show on Team Rock Radio) to the minute he left the stage and headed for the merch stand, he provided an interactive and high octane sprint through a set that was fast, violent and very, very satisfying. Of course he played a lot of Ramones stuff – the first pit opened to Somebody put Something In My Drink and from then on it was mosh central until Commando the last track of the encore was played. Tracks from Entitled received a thunderous reception – Forgotten Years – and Take My Hand were particularly brilliant. If the enthusiasm of the crowd was anything to go by this is a Triumphant solo debut for The Ramones’ Fastest Drummer and should he release another album (please do), I suspect they won’t be lacking in tour ticket sales. As gigs go, it was everything my 15 year old self could have wanted, and there’s a whole new generation of fans who were throwing themselves about the place last night to keep happy too.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to try and retrieve my voice and stick ice packs on my pit-related injuries.