Thursday, March 17, 2011

The New York Dolls Played Bowery Ballroom - Pictures, Review

Last night we had the pleasure of stopping in at the Bowery Ballroom to catch the first of The New York Dolls' two shows there this week. In many ways the set was exactly what you would expect: an iconic band reliving their glory days, much to the delight of an enraptured crowd. However, there was also more than that. The band have just recorded a new record, and it was clear that they were enjoying a vitality and new life in their music that brought it beyond the roots of their classic debut record.

The only remaining original members of the band are David Johansen and Sylvain Sylain, and in most respects, they held down dual duties of keeping the concert on track. Johansen played his role of cagey front man, while Sylvain took on an almost Paul-Schafer-esque band maestro position. The combination worked well, as it left Johansen free to handle the crowd, while Sylvain would work the band and crowd to equal extents.

The rest of the band shouldn't be overlooked. It was a welcome surprise that the Dolls had enlisted some heavyweights to join their new lineup. In addition to drummer Brian Delaney, who has been with the band since they first reunited, the Dolls have also enlisted Earl Slick on guitar, and Jason Hill on bass. Slick is best known as David Bowie's lead guitar man, while Hill is better known as the frontman of Louis XIV. Together, the two served as an extremely solid blues combo that created a perfect foundation for the Dolls' music.

Despite the band being an awesome on stage presence as a unit, we have to say that Johansen was still unequivocally the man of the evening. He exudes a frontman charisma that is incredibly dynamic, and at the same time almost so kitsch that it's comedy. He's an odd combination of Jagger, Nick Cave, and about a million others. Seeing him live on stage was one of the best true performances we've seen in a long time.

After the show, we overheard some folks at Marshall Stack who hadn't been at the show discussing whether or not the Dolls are past their prime. We had to chime in, because they are certainly not. The show last night was straight up rock and roll of the very best kind. Was it challenging conventions or breaking through any edgy barriers? No. But it was a damn good time, and frankly, in case you forgot: that's what rock music is all about.

The New York Dolls play Bowery Ballroom again tonight. Tickets are still available.
Many more pictures at the HAD Archive


Hugh said...

Great show. And The Bowery was fitting and a prefect venue for this entertaining band. I've been listening to the Dolls for a long time. It was worth the wait to see them live.
Here's some video I shot that night:

They had their own video crew that night, so look for an official live DVD soon.

Anonymous said...

Hi guys,
Incroyable ! As we says in France and as Frenchette would have said ! I am back in Paris from my trip in NYC. I was there on March 17th invited by my elder son (he's 24 )... Thus there is no need to prove that David, Syl and this gang still rocks. Edwin my son told me this is slighly better than 60% of the rock band he uded to see since 10 years ! That show was a pretty great gig, I have seen the Dolls first time in Paris in 74, please tell all your young/old or whatever aged good friends to go, see and listen to this music and capture that grateful energy.... It's Alive & Well... Thierry from Paris France... So Let's just Dance ! L.U.V. to all.