Monday, June 27, 2011


When he's not selling pasta sauce by the case-load or fixing up old cars, Marky Ramone's out on the road with his own Ramones cover band: Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg. Last night, they blitzed Islington Academy. And with ex-Misfits frontman (and conservative punk) Michale Graves on vocals, it was a real trip down memory lane. A little bit of punk-rock 'n roll history...

One thing that always amazes me about English music fans is no matter how bad the crowd is for the opening act, by the time the headliner's on the place is rammed. The first band, who I can't find any information about online (did I imagine them?) played to about 15 people. The singer did a kind of forced Mick Jagger routine, constantly reminding himself to bend his arm behind his back and impersonate Jagger's famous chicken wing swagger (pout included). The guitarist on his right looked like Nikki Sixx. And the lead guitarist to his left looked like James Iha. Very confusing. Their songs are forgettable rock 'n roll cliches like, "I wanna fuck you so bad it hurts..."

'70s punk 'super group' Bermondsey Joyriders, featuring pimp-looking Garrie Lammin (Cock Sparrer, The Little Roosters) on guitar, Wolverine sideburns-sporting Martin Stacy (Chelsea) on bass and Jeremy Clarkson on drums (what happened to Rat Scabies?) played to way more people. They even had beat poet John Sinclair doing some weird, apocalyptic spoken word narration between songs (apparently they've just completed a concept album with him).

But London fans have it down to a fine art. The second Marky Ramone hit the stage, a fresh stampede of Ramones and Misfits t-shirts burst through the door and, suddenly, the place was packed.

Marky Ramone's set was a non-stop blitz of Ramones classics, from "Rockaway Beach" to "Blitzkrieg Pop". They played everything! Even covers like "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?", from Ramones' 1993 cover album Acid Eaters; "What a Wonderful World" (covered by Joey Ramone on his 2002 solo album Don't Worry About Me); and "R.A.M.O.N.E.S", written by Motorhead in 1991 (later covered by Ramones live and released as a bonus track on their 1995 album
¡AdiĆ³s Amigos!).

The young-looking bassist (a clone of the young guitarist on the left side of the stage - where was Claire B?) called out the "1-2-3-4s" and the show didn't stop for a second. Marky Ramone hardly moves at all when he's jamming. His hair looks like a wig glued in place. His eyes watch everything he's hitting. He's a machine. A robot.

He did a few weird-sounding fills to close the show but holy shit, his hi-hat and ride speed is second to none. The dude can jam! The gig's like an endurance marathon for him, his wiry arms hardly moving at all - it's all in the wrist - and his mouth gurning with concentration, like he's coked out of his mind.

When the band left the stage, Graves reappeared with an acoustic guitar and played Misfits' "Fiend Club" for all the skull-clad fiends in the audience. Then he cranked out one of my all time Misfits favourites "Descending Angels", followed by a VH1 Storytellers version of "Saturday Night".

Then Marky and the two clones reappeared and the band cranked out even more Ramones hits. But not before Marky leaned into the mic and said, "Michale Graves, the greatest singer they ever had". The band also played their own singles, "When We Were Angels" and "If and When" - which sound very much like Michale Graves songs with Marky Ramone on drums.

In the end, it's just a pity CJ Ramone and Marky are off doing their own Ramones revival shows. Teaming up and adding CJ to the Blitzkrieg lineup would give the show even more credibility. Although I just read that CJ used to be married to Marky's niece (now divorced) and is currently working on a solo album. Hmm... Still, it was great night. WAY cooler than expected. Damn that Michale Graves can sing (pity about his terrible '90s shitlocks - he looks like Trent Reznor in NIN's "Head Like a Hole" video)...

Marky Ramone photos: Mike Savoia

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