Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stooges at Max's Kansas City

...they started out loud and fast and thick and visceral. The point was the group sound and it's cumulative emotional wallop more so than the playing or parts of any given player. And still -- Ron Asheton's bass playing was phenomenal - it came forth as rolling thunder, like a tank's treads forcibly chewing through or over any and all terrain. Ron was fast but focussed. Fit a lot of notes in but fit 'em into densely compacted riffage that could carry a song all by itself. In fact on the live disc of the new Stooges box set it practically does that -- being the highest thing in the mix next to Iggy's vocal. Having heard how Ronnie hated playing second fiddle to Williamson I'm suring he's smiling at the irony of Williamson's reuniting with the Stooges being heralded by -- a testament to his bass playing!
James Williamson's guitar work - especially the rhythm playing - was gutteral but wonderfully articulated. Thinking back on it you, can see what ideas came outta The Who and Rolling Stones but were ingeniously refined, retaining the essence of the blues and R&B in shaping and beat but trying to move beyond obvious reference points.
That Rock Action was able to effectively anchor this electronic stringed maelstrom was an achievement any drummer should be in awe of.
And actually took a couple years of listening to his "5'1" before it dawned on me that the dude's a midge. That night he appeared enormous, lithe, primal. Someone experiencing the electrocutional thrill of the life force raging through his corporeal self 100%.
He sang he heart out. He walked thru the crowd balancing on the backs of the folding chairs we were seated in. He leaned right on down into folks' faces howling "penetraaaaaaaate me!" (my friend, the late, great gay essayist Ted Witomski tried oblige by putting a cigarette out on his torso but I dissuaded him).
I must admit -- they didn't quite look right. Iggy was fine shirtless, black Speedos, thigh high boots and Ronnie fit in with his WWII outfit, but James' glitter-tat (no doubt bought by a Mainman stylist at some pricey London boutique) was a bit too precious for the sound they was puttin' down.
Fair to say, this sticks in my mind as one of the great shows I've seen in my lifetime (other would be Ramones at CBs in 75, Big Star at Max's in 73/74, Jeff Buckley at T-Bird cafe in Red Bank, Minor Threat at the 9:30Club in '81...I could go on: PS if any of these years are wrong, I'm sorry about that. Too hot to go and research)

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