It isn’t often that you get the opportunity to see true rock n’roll legends in such an intimate setting. Waiting for the band to emerge, I felt a genuine sense of excitement at the prospect of sharing air with vocalist David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain.
The New York Dolls have been together in various incarnations since 1971. Evolving from guitarist Johnny Thunders’ project Actress, Thunders, Johansen, Sylvain, Arthur Kane and Jerry Nolan became the controversially named New York Dolls.
Long hair, lipstick and high heels, loud guitars and provocative lyrics, they paved the way for glam and punk rock. All attitude and swagger, the New York Dolls introduced the iconic sound of true New York punk. With the release of their self-titled debut in 1973 they changed the sound and the look of the rock and roll genre.
Thirty-seven years later, Johansen and Sylvain are the only original members left standing. Johansen remains the Jaggeresque frontman who oozes the essence of cool, while Sylvain is his crazy sidekick, effortlessly wielding his gold Gretsch with an impish grin. The perfect partnership for showcasing the classics Looking For AKiss, We’re All In Love, and Dance Like A Monkey in their iconic, bluesy, style.
We are also treated to two new compositions – the laid back Sunday Afternoon and ska groove End Of The Summer. Sylvain dedicates You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory / Lonely Planet Boy to the late Johnny Thunders. The mention of Thunders has the crowd enraptured, momentarily mourning his loss.
Saving the best for last, the sleazy hits keep coming: Trash, Pills, and then the audience takes over Jet Boy – Johansen is redundant but smirking throughout. These songs truly stand up to the forces of time, losing none of the originality or Chutzpah that has brought them such critical acclaim. Finally, Personality Crisis brings the New York Dolls three-day residency to an end.
I walk away, gleefully singing Jet Boy and hoping that I may have inhaled some of the greatness that was evident on stage tonight.