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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Vive Le Dolls.

With Steve Conte sharing the Rolling Stones article on the New York Dolls (Here) I found myself with one foot on memory lane.
So let me tell you about it. 

The reunion of the New York Dolls was something that snatched my breath away.

Due to the inconvenience of being born too late, and in the wrong place, I had pretty much settled on accepting that our paths would never cross.
It just wasn’t to be.
Like all dreamers I did reserve a miniscule hope that that there would be a chance, but that was tucked away in a drawer labelled ‘never say never’, while in reality I just knew that the dream I was clutching to was more about my reluctance to let go of it rather than anything else.

They were forever and always going to be one of those acts that I mentioned when people asked the time travelling scenario question of what gig, any gig, would you go to?
Billie Holiday with Count Basie, New York Dolls in New York, MC5 in Detroit, Buddy Holly on tour with Little Richard, The Beatles on amphetamines in a Bier Keller.
You get the picture?
They were the bands and artists whose vinyl albums were spun frequently in my bedroom that would take me away from the village life that I felt imprisoned me.
Along with voraciously reading anything it was music that allowed me to disengage with the mundane and claustrophobic feelings of that existence and fly, and it was the New York Dolls that were the masters at providing that release.
Rather than a needle in the crux of my arm it was the needle in the groove that was my release.
I would lie with my eyes closed and the music would assault me, drag me from where I lay and deposit me among the stars.

Then all those years later, seemingly out of the blue they were announced to play meltdown.
I could have had a heart attack. Quite literally that muscle beating in my chest could have just stopped in shock.
The announcement was bittersweet though as I was penniless.
Not the penniless that some claim to be when they have change rattling in their pockets, but life savings tucked away for a rainy day hovering in the background.
I mean the real penniless.
At that point in my life I was hovering on the brink of extinction penniless.

So there they were, the god damn mother fuckin’ New York bloody Dolls reformed and playing in the UK, and there I was dancing with destitution and unable to scratch them off the top of my bucket list of bands that there was a snowballs chance in hell of seeing anyway.

Was I distraught?
The adult me wasn’t.
There was far more important things to concern myself with at the time, but deep down inside of me there was a teenager screaming, gnashing teeth and pulling hair out.

It just seemed that I was yet again destined to be that wrong time wrong place kid again.
However like all good fairy tales this one didn’t end there and did ultimately have a happy ending.

As we all know now the band decided not to just limit their return to a couple of shows and in 2005 they announced that they would be returning to the studio and touring.

This was my beginning.

Glasgow ABC, and it was everything I thought it would be.
From interviewing Sami Yaffa pre gig, meeting Sylvain for seconds, and then being swept away with the performance.
The fan boy in me was a mess. A complete and utter delirious mess.
Pressed against the barrier I sang myself hoarse, pushed out space to dance in until my legs ached, and generally lost myself in the show.
New kids Steve Conte, Sami Yaffa and Brian Delaney weren’t just hired guns but real Dolls.
That was the icing on the cake.
Each of them fitted perfectly, and I doubt anyone thought they were seeing a facsimile of a band from the past, but knew instinctually that instead this was the reincarnated all new, and very probably improved, version of a band that we loved.
Any fear that this may have been a sedate Johansen and Sylvain nostalgia trip was banished as soon as they all stepped onto the stage.
They ripped it up.

Then it got better. More gigs, more ecstatic responses.

I never missed a Glasgow gig.

I took my son to the Morrissey show in Hyde Park (London) and that was really all about the Dolls.
About sharing that fire, the passion, the total disregard for convention that is wrapped in the tribal beat of rock and roll.
The moment when their set overlapped with Morrissey arriving on the main stage and beginning his was gold.
There we stood enthralled by the New York Dolls and all around us were the fans of Mozza creeping to the fringes of the tent as their hero was in the house, but ultimately unable to leave until the last notes were wrung out.
This was their power.
Right there and then they collectively held everyone in the palms of their hands and no one was leaving until they said so.

Since then the journey has continued.
Steve Conte has played solo a couple of times in my neck of the woods. He has two stunningly fantastic releases out to, Sami and Steve are now happily back as sparring partners in Michael Monroes band with Steve writing the vast majority of the last release, and while I am loving it all hovering in the background is that’ little drawer that’s labelled ‘never say never’ that has been opened once before and may be tugged at again.

Who knows, but if it does happen then I am there.

Vive Le Dolls.

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