Whilst away in Newcastle the other night, I checked into my hotel and like I normally tend to do, hit Google up for some advice on what might be going on in the area. I do this pretty much every time I’m holed up somewhere, alone and bored but it’s not only rare I find anything at that precise time that tickles my fancy, but it’s also rare to have the motivation to pursue these endeavors after a hard day of work or travel. However, when I found that only just over a mile down the road, Richie Ramone’s band were playing, it was time to have a word with one’s self, and get ready to piss off out. What an opportunity, how good can timing get?
Now, I’m not going to sit here and say I’m a massive fan of Richie’s new ‘solo’ stuff, or that he was my favourite Ramone out of the illustrious line up of punk icons that enjoyed a tenure with the band, but what I will say is that The Ramones are my favourite band of all time. Have been for over ten years now and anyone who knows me will know why (if you don’t, and want to, message me on the Mojo20 Facebook page). Also, some of the albums Richie featured on during his time with the punk pioneers between 1983 and 1987 were amongst my favourites, such as ‘Too Tough To Die’ & ‘Animal Boy’. So there was no way I could miss this, potentially, once in a lifetime event. I mean let’s face it, all the original members of The Ramones have now passed away, so if the members that joined later and brought something new and great like Marky, CJ (See our interview with CJ here) and of course Richie (I’m not including Clem Burke/Elvis Ramone in this) are still playing and recording music, why not go and check it out!
What ensued was at first, intimidating, eventually fun and then in the end just downright impressive. Richie Ramone is currently 58 years old and if he rocked any harder back in the day, I’m not sure what it would have looked liked. Following a support performance by Klammer, the rest of his band set up the stage and got things ready, not unveiling the front-man before it was time for the main event. When it came, he bounded onstage and within seconds kicked things straight into the fastest, heaviest and most incredible version of the old famous Ramones set introduction, ‘Durango 95’. Of course, when they released this instrumental and began using it to kick shows off, Richie was there. So why not? I remember now, the cheesiest grin, spreading from ear to ear as they hammered through this first song because the feeling of being ‘there’ was consuming. The middle-aged punks in their leathers which added to the intimidating atmosphere earlier on were now dancing and enjoying, maybe like they did in the past, when Joey would have stood at the front, looming over them.
The set featured an enormous array of The Ramones classics, mixed with a whole bunch of Richie’s newer, self penned material, which fitted into the set just perfectly. Songs like ‘Smash You’ and ‘Better Than Me’ added a little, something new, to what could have been a nostalgia set based on old times. But the first thing I found, after the first few songs was that this band, with bassist Clare Misstake, Ben Reagan on rhythm and drums (when RR took to the mic) & guitarist Alex Kane, freshened EVERYTHING up and made it new. The new songs sounded modern and fresh, contemporary and it wasn’t an old rock band, reliving a bygone era, plus the performance aspect was incredible. They really put on a show. Also, The Ramones classics sounded tougher, punkier, they had a modern edge and performed to the best possible ability. This felt like an incarnation of what the band would be now if we still had all the originals still here.
We were treated to songs like ‘Somebody Put Something In My Drink’, ‘Havana Affair’, ‘I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement’ and ‘Wart Hog’ but of course, and I can feel a communal roll of the eyes at the obviousness here, but boy did things get insane when Clare called out “1,2,3,4” and the band hammered head first into ‘Blitzkreig Bop’. The place blew up and what a party it was! For a Tuesday night, that was BIG.
I’m very grateful I got to see one of the long-standing members of The Ramones perform and I’m overjoyed at how great it was. So I’ve seen Richie and interviewed CJ. That means; Marky…I’m coming for you!
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)