Wednesday, February 25, 2015

JAMES WILLIAMSON Re-Licked LIVE SHOW 1.16.15 at the Bootleg Theatre, L.A.

It's early in 2015Land, and I've already photographed the live show of the year a tad over a month ago on 1.16.15 at the Bootleg Theatre near downtown Los Angeles.  

Legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Stooges' guitarist James Williamson performed with a superband revue of top tier alternative singers and players who graced his recent Re-Licked solo album of all those Stooges' songs that were supposed to be the followup to Iggy and The Stooges' Raw Power. Televised appearances on Last Call with Carson Daly broadcast at the beginning and end of February assembled Re-Licked players, so this one-off gig was forged in a very short timespan.

Regarding Williamson, co-author with Iggy Pop of aforementioned 1973 sea change Raw Power that became the template for all hard rock genres from thrash to metal to punk ad infinitum thereafter, my friend Andy Schwartz (former NY Rocker Editor/honcho) at the show aptly put it "James' playing can still crack the enamel on your teeth." Furthermore the star power of the vocalists, all handpicked by Williamson  for Stoogelike passionate abandon, proved formidable. (Full frontal disclosure: your humble photojournalist Art-Directed the Re-Licked cd/vinyl/download release and took many of its photos.)

Unanimously rapturous reviews emerged from this gig. A  lot of good photos are floating around (and just as many poor ones; in trying to corral all personnel onstage using wide angle lenses without compensating for same, most made everyone look like Humpty Dumpty, including the bona fide beanpoles.) For my shots, bear in mind the jam-packed, sold out Bootleg venue precluded more peripatetic camera work. Knowing others would go for mere documentation, I instead aimed for the emotion exploding onstage with these powerful songs passionately played by its virtuoso composer, sung by charisma-drenched singers who nonetheless are fans too, and adored bigtime by an audience who found this last minute gig just in time.  Appreciation for performer Frank Meyer's verification of this effort who wrote of it "You always capture the realness of the moment."

The key word would be dynamic, in both senses. Of course Williamson's songs and delivery rage and roil all belief in some of the most dynamic shredding in rock's history, that's a given. But the dynamic of the show itself proved unusual in two more senses of the word. First, its very format somewhat resembled an oldskool revue of multiple acts performing in quick succession; secondly, the undercurrent of why these performers were onstage in the first place proved a unique dynamic in our 2015 vista of interchangeable pop impersonating creativity. These compelling vocalists wanted to celebrate some of the best rock music ever written by participating with its creator.

As impressively inked soul performer Ron Young mused in his typically eloquent insider's P.O.V., "What a fabulous night! To watch folks that seem so confident onstage be so vulnerable because they wanted to do a great job for someone other than themselves was really enlightening for me. Zero rockstar bullshit.  One of the other interesting observations was watching all the artists preparing for the guerrilla like performance approach to the show. Most of us all get to do our own shows and prepare for playing long continuous sets. To watch everyone's insecurities, preparations, and rituals for rapid fire short performance was very enlightening. There was such a great communal spirit and to see individual artists come together in order to create an event where the sum of the parts becomes greater than the whole was invigorating. To watch individuals make their personal creative identities secondary in order to pay respect and tribute to an artist that everyone has a deep respect for, showed me that with all the talk about the senescent state of the music biz, there is a vibrant and kinetic energy still glowing among its practitioners." 

"The highlight to me was getting to hang, perform and bask in the wondrous light that is Lisa Kekaula, Carolyn Wonderland and Alison Mosshart, three creative, talented, powerhouse ladies. They delight in creativity, power and rock so hard without putting a dent in their femininity. What a treat!"

True enough, the audience excitement level noticably ramped up many, many notches for the contributions of emotionally white-hot Texas blueswoman Wonderland, ethereal/vulnerable-but-tough, model-gaunt Mosshart and F5 tornado, typhoon, volcanic force-of-nature Kekaula. However, no one could have opened the show better than perennial crowd favorite Jello Biafra with his inhabit-every-inch-of-the-stage, kinetic delivery. Raw power indeed!  As for all the musical performances, they're all primo great so c'mon, just go buy James Williamson, Re-Licked already. Here's the visuals:

The set list followed Re-Licked's song  order:    
1. Jello Biafra (The Guantanamo School of Medicine, The Dead Kennedys) singing "Head On The Curve,"
2. Carolyn Wonderland singing "Open Up And Bleed,"                     

3. Joe Cardamone

(The Icarus Line, 
owner Valley Sound 
Studio) singing 
"Scene Of The Crime," 

4. Frank Meyer (The Street Walkin' Cheetahs) singing "She Creatures Of  The Hollywood Hills,"

5. Alison Mosshart (The Kills, The Dead Weather) singing "'Til The End Of The Night,"

 6. Lisa Kekaula (The BellRays, Lisa and The Lips, featured in Basement Jaxx, and the MC5 reunions) singing "I Got A Right,"

 7. Joe Cardamone
"Pinpoint Eyes,"

  8. Jesse Malin (D Generation) and Alison Mosshart duet-singing "Wild Love,"

9. Ron Young (Little Caesar, Manic Eden, The Blue-Eyed Devils) singing "Rubber Leg,"
10. Frank Meyer singing 
"I'm Sick Of You,"

11. Carolyn Wonderland singing "Gimme Some Skin,"

12. Shea Roberts (The Richmond Sluts) singing "Cock In My Pocket,"

13. Lisa Kekaula singing "Heavy Liquid,"  (Amy D'Allessandro, director of The Making of Re-Licked dvd, insisted that I document how cute Lisa's black leather, stiletto-heeled boots were, so voici!) and

14. The Richmond Sluts singing 
"Wet My Bed" completing the Re-Licked album song set.

Then James Williamson uttered his only three words onstage that night, "Wait, there's more!" The show's encore featured every one of the singers back onstage with the addition of Cheetah Chrome, all raucously intoning Pop/Williamson's anthem "Search And Destroy" from Iggy and The Stooges' Raw Power, plus that band's notorious 1973 riot-torn  Metallic K.O., first Stooges' denouement cover of Richard Berry's "Louie Louie." 

Below, props given to Williamson from the onstage participants as well as a rapturous ovation from the audience.

Meet the band!  
Below, onstage with James Williamson were: Andrea Wasse (The Weekend, songwriter for Canadian tv) backup vocals; Michael Urbano (Smashmouth, producer) drums; Gregg Foreman (Cat Power) keyboards/percussion; Dan Rothchild (Heart) bass; Nancy Kuo (That Dog, Four Non-Blondes) on cello (see Photo Ops section); and Jeremy Gill for occasional saxophone (see #10 above.)



Before Williamson's all stars came punk innovator Cheetah Chrome, former Dead Boys, Rocket From The Tombs and Batusis guitarist, book author, family man and successful Nashville A&R guy.  He was backed by the somewhat newly reunited punk band The Street Walkin' Cheetahs, whose Frank Meyer was a featured vocalist for James' set as well. Multi-tasker Frank is also a blogger and a television producer/director (his brother and former Street Walkin' Cheetah Brekin is recognizable from "Clueless" and nonstop supporting roles since.) S.W. Cheetahs' bassist Bruce Duff remains a well-regarded L.A. personage from Twisted Roots, 45 Grave, Redd Kross, assorted p.r. gigs and his first published novel last year. Cheetah's Dead Boys' anthem "Sonic Reducer" of course played rather well with this crowd, but gruff-voiced Chrome performed from many albums and EPs worth of worthy solo material as well.


Openers were San Francisco's rakish rockers The Richmond Sluts, whose lead singer Shea Roberts also was a featured vocalist for James' set. The rest of the Sluts are Jesse Nichols, John Tyree, Chris B and Justin Lynn. Fun stuff, and definitely in keeping with the Stooges' vibe of blues-begat wildness. Emblematic of their enthusiasm, drummer Tyree recounted, "I used to hop barricades just to be up close to this Stooge music, now here we are rockin' on stage with it!!!"

 (Captioned by the aforementioned Andy Schwartz "Round up the usual suspects!") Left to right: David Arnson, Andrew Scott (both of the Stooges tribute band The Raw Power Rangers,) James Williamson, Evita Corby (rock couturier and star of the original back cover of the Pop/Williamson album Kill City,) DJ/writer James "the Hound" Marshall, Gillian McCain, co-author with Legs McNeil of "Please Kill Me: the Uncensored Oral History of Punk." 

Bassist Dan Rothchild with very close personal friend singer Sky Nicholas, who, small world, was once in a spin-off band with my close friend Mary Kay, bassist of The Dogs; keyboard player Gregg Foreman and Evita Corby. 
Below left, Jello Biafra and Evita Corby nudge the timeline at the Bigfoot Lodge afterparty; beautiful cellist/violinist Nancy Kuo.


Apropos of The Dogs, its singer/songwriter/guitarist Loren Molinare is seen flanked by Krista Wood and Evita Corby; → at  Cheetah Chrome's merchandise counter, his sound tech Ames Flames, world's most likeable roadie.

Powerhouse singer Ron Young tells The Making of Re-Licked documentary filmmakers James Stolz and Amy D'Allessandro "...but what I really want to do is direct..."

And with the timeline duking into a stratosphere of its own psychedelic design, Re-Licked keyboard player Gregg Foreman delivers in an all sitar set at the Bigfoot Lodge afterparty.

Click LINK* for the entire live show...


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