New York Dolls -Live at Club Academy, Manchester 29/03/2011

Review by Scott Zverblis

As one of the true oddities of the New York punk scene in the mid 70s, The New York Dolls are considered to be the godfathers of American punk. The band imploded in spectacular fashion back in 1975, and articles in various music magazines, books and punk rock documentaries kept the NY Dolls legacy alive. It always seemed unlikely that the infamous group would ever tour again. Not until Morrissey – life long fan and one-time editor of the NY Dolls UK fan club – invited them to play at the Meltdown festival in 2004.

7 years on and a few tours later, this outing sees the punk legends  playing their most intimate Manchester gig to date; the small and sweaty, yet equally stylish, Club Academy.

Ear shrieking, operatic music gently floats out of the speakers as the Dolls stroll onto the tiny stage. For a moment, the aging rockers look almost god like; illuminated by dazzling white and blue light.

The excitable audience shower camper-than-Christmas guitarist, Sylvain Sylvain with rapturous applause as the opening bars of ‘Looking For A Kiss’ blast through the speakers.

There aren’t many rock singers who look like they’re having as much fun on stage as the New York Dolls’ David Johansen, a man who appears to be a real-life Saturday Night Live caricature of Mick Jagger. The minute Sylvain and Johansen come together to share a microphone or two – a sea of camera phones fill the air – jostling audience members trying to capture the special moment in celluloid history.

Another target of the happy snappers is the latest recruit to the New York Dolls camp – ultra cool guitarist, Earl Slick. Best known for his work with David Bowie, Slick played lead guitar on classic Bowie albums, Young Americans and Station To Station. Slick looks every bit the rock star with his spiky, jet black hair, faded leather jacket and dark shades.

In no way is this a nostalgia show by a band firmly entrenched in rock history. The Dolls perform plenty of material from their excellent new album, ‘Dancing Backward In High Heels – all of which fit perfectly amongst the classics.

While the earlier parts of the set are more measured, by now the audience are treated to riotous and boisterous versions of ‘Dance Like A Monkey’ and ‘Pills’. ‘Trash’, ‘Jet Boy’ and ‘Personality Crisis’ round off the evening perfectly.
In an increasingly dull and spiritless music world, it is a joy to see this still-credible last gang in town showing Manchester just how good old fashioned Rock ‘n’ Roll should be done.

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