Richie Ramone With Readership Hostile, The Tissues At The Echoplex, Sunday April 30th 2017
Would I ever think I would see a Ramone? I actually saw Linda Ramone a few times, and even Tommy (who died in 2014) during a signing at Amoeba, but there are actually 3 surviving members of the famous band, Richie, C.J. and Marky Ramone. Richie was the iconic band’s drummer from 83 to 87, he is the only Ramones drummer to be credited as the sole composer and writer of 6 Ramones songs, and he was headlining Part Time Punks at the Echoplex on Sunday. Part Time Punks is a weekly thing but it’s damn late, at least it was this time, who gets the idea to start a show a Sunday night at 10 pm with three bands in the lineup? I stuck around until the end, and this tells you how much I wanted to see one of the last Ramones standing.
Readership Hostile opened the show, with the very hostile Adrienne Pearson for fronwoman… their sound was dark beyond dark and if Pearson’s post-punk vocals were dominating the game, they installed a sound part mad-aggression, part soundtrack-for-suicide. It was dissonant and angry and she was either screaming or half-speaking her rage during furious gothic distortion and heavy pounding drums. Call it post punk, gothic, death punk, it was also visceral and cathartic and this heavy drum-bass combination and distorted guitar didn’t manage to cover Pearson’s howls once. It was a very physical show, they were on a race to somewhere, some destination and it was not a happy place, as they sounded like a very dark side of the Cure with a Joy Division death wish, mixed with a punk rage.
The Tissues, which weren’t softer, were once again fronted by a fierce woman, Kristine Nevrose, screaming some serious rage she must have kept inside for several decades. Tight in a black leather dress, she looked very sexy and was alternating furious yelling with hyper sexy dancing… she was quite a show and I bet there was not a guy who could have detached his eyes from her, although there were other women in the band. I could not detach mine either. She was doing a very seductive dance despite her squall-like delivery, she was slowing down then abruptly releasing a violent outburst of rage and insubordination. She took her guitar once, but the rest was her slaying the stage in her short black leather dress, acting like a bitch, walking like a queen.
Then it was finally Richie Ramone’s turn, and I must admit I didn’t know exactly what to expect, one Ramone alone on stage behind his drumset? Of course Richie had a full band and if he drums a lot, he also sings and doesn’t stay hidden behind his drums all the time. Not that he was ever hidden, he is a very tall man, even a gigantic one, wearing a Ramone-signature black leather jacket, and a bright golden light was always shining on him when he was drumming. He did a few songs of the Ramones, right, more than a few, but not necessarily the big hits beside ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ or ‘Sheena is a Punk Rocker’ – probably because the big hits are too associated with the Ramones’ iconic frontman and singer Joey – and he played a few tunes of his own, in particular from his 2016 ‘Cellophane’ album. However, everything rocked super hard from start to finish with that same punk rock spirit, briefly slowed down a bit by this surprising cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy the Silence’ (which is also featured on his album).
And he did an impressive number of songs, 28 according to the setlist, including the songs he wrote for the Ramones such as ‘Somebody Put Something in My Drink’,’ I’m Not Jesus’, ‘Can’t Say Anything Nice,’ with an unstoppable energy, alternating between drums and singing frontman, standing behind a mic that he was holding very high, even higher than him, while rhythm guitarist Ben Reagan was also alternating between guitar and drums accordingly. Richie roared, singing with a raucous tone while the show had a fast and furious energy. Behind the drums, he looked like a force of nature, forcefully pounding his drum skins, while his young guitarist Ronnie Simmons, brought the youthful energy you would expect from a Ramones gig. Richie is 59, it’s not old by any means, and he looks good and tall, but he is obviously not the spider-legs cartoon character associated with the Ramones, Simmons brought this to the show, he was a sort of guitar wizard, a fully tattooed wizard (he removed his shirt later on), taking all the iconic pauses of the Ramones, legs apart for the whole set and jumping as high as a rabbit, probably higher than these Lemon Twigs kids, while bassist Clare Misstake looked menacing and was screaming these Dee Dee’s 1234 countdowns. Details like these gave some real Ramones authenticity to the show, although I was well aware we were not at CBCG in the late 70s. I have never seen the Ramones live, will never see live and I realized this was the closer I will ever get. And if Richie’s vocals are a far cry from Joey’s high pitched voice, if the Ramones’ poppy side was buried under a more hard rocking and heavy sound, shows like this one remind us that the Ramones’ music still runs in many veins.
I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement
Somebody Put Something in my Drink
I Just Want to Have Something to Do
Better Than Me
I Fix This
Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode)
Can’t Say Anything Nice
Today Your Love, tomorrow the World
I’m Not Jesus
I Wanna Be Well
Your Worst Enemy
Sheena is a punk Rocker
I’m Not Ready
Into the Fire