Tuesday August 3
The chance to see the MC5 is not something you pass up lightly. This is the band of political radicals, Detroit hoods and badboy wasters that influenced The Stooges and The Ramones, among countless others. Cut to 2004, and the deaths of singer Rob Tyner and guitarist Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith have reduced MC5 to MC3. Losing your lead singer is bit of a drag, but this is the MC5 for f**k’s sake, not INXS. The lineup here consisted of the original rhythm section and one original guitarist (Wayne Kramer). The replacement guitarist was Deniz Tek, a Detroit native and founding member of Radio Birdman. So far, so good. Vocal duties were picked up by Mark Arm of Mudhoney and the (anorexic, drugf**ked) Evan Dando. Arm did most of the singing, while Dando stepped up for the big numbers – ‘Shakin’ Street’, ‘Kick out the Jams’. His voice still sounded great, but he looked genuinely unstable and had a tendency to wander off stage before the song finished – I’m not 100% sure why he was there. (Speaking of ‘not sure why they were there’, openers Rock’n’Roll Machine subjected us to one-dimensional sub-Datsuns pap.)
MC5 kicked ass. Despite appearances (most of the band must be well over 50) they were tight, loud and heavy as a motherf**ker. Often referenced as a seminal ‘proto-punk’ band, they’re kind of a missing link between 60s hard rock and ‘punk’ in the classic vein. They ran the gamut from fast’n’loud rock, amphetamine-fuelled bubblegum pop, cosmic noise jams and turgid whiteboy blues. They played all the classics from their first two albums, opening the gig with ‘Ramblin’ Rose’ and proving their political hearts were still in the right place by ending their set with a pointed ‘American Ruse’. Museum exhibits, maybe – but it was fine, fine gig.
[Review for The package]