Crud Fanzines PLC present...

The Zanzibar, Liverpool 25.05.03

(reviewed by MWJ)

So, a version of the Misfits™ is still enough to drag me out in Bank holiday traffic for an evening’s entertainment. I say version because this outing under the legendary, seminal name, now in 25/26th year anniversary tour, only contains Jerry Only, original bassist and now filling main vocal duties. He’s joined by a veritable punk rock allstars line up of "Uncle" Dez Cadena, guitarist of Black Flag and "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee" Marky Ramone. Forewarned it’s going to be a mixture of all of their songs in the set tonight, the Misfits alone hold a special grip on me, while I know some of the others stuff I wouldn’t say I was as addicted to it. I’m also in the fortunate position in having seen the more conventional version of the band a handful of times since their "resurrection" in 1997, Bradford Rio’s gig of that year remaining in my all time top 3. That only meant old time guitarist Doyle was also in the band, (now full time family man after birth of daughter, Boriss, as in Karloff…) but at least it was full on Misfits. You’re never going to see Glenn Danzig back with them so this is the closest you’ll come.

Anyway, arrived early anticipating odd Sunday hours but joined the queue building outside. Gave time to admire the urban decay of this part of the ‘pool, entertainment provided by US support band trying to manhandle their gear trailer into parking space, plus Scouse wit from passing clubbers milling about "Eh, I’ve seen dese mate, de’re shite" or "£15 quid a man, what the f**k d’you get for that". A point made there, contributing to a retirement fund? I was also fighting paranoia of having to (hopefully) collect my ticket on the door, but yes my name’s scribbled on a piece of paper and I’m in.

The Crudmeister had briefed me on the place true enough, it’s an excellent venue. Not very big and rapidly fills to sold out 300 capacity but a decent stage, raised areas where you could get better views, even comparatively cheap beer! Some faces from Penrhyn Old Hall there, plus those from Instant Agony and MDM.

Now self deprecation is all well and good but The Inadequates were pretty poor. Apparently a member had been instrumental in setting this gig up so I guess they’d booked their slot. All three of them wearing Ramones shirts gave a clue were they were coming from musically, and maybe it will always be a proud moment to reflect on who they shared a stage with, but they struggled to hold a tune on the covers (I presume) they were doing and basically need a whole lot more practice. Even then I wouldn’t be interested.

Panic from Nottingham, a much more confident and tight outfit. Again a 3 piece, but showing how power can be created from this limited number. Plenty of upbeat melody, perhaps a heavy pop punk style if that’s possible, good pace to the songs. Good reception from the crowd for their straightforward banter, including the acknowledgement that we’re all here for the Misfits. It’s fine but again, not my thing and I take a break to get some fresh air and tobacco

The Lonely Kings from California have made some effort to get into the horror show feel with some face paints but their music was more on the happier side. Driven punk tunes, vaguely like Rocket from the Crypt or a slower New Bomb Turks, they started to get people moving. This was encouraged further by holding competition for best dancer based on categories of "style, complexity and punkedness". They’ve an easy going manner, appreciative of the crowd, the Misfits for bringing them over, good atmosphere all round. Ending with an epic number with a delay effected vocal as the singer clambered over the PA and crowd, with Dez Cadena adding an extra guitar to the wall of sound, definitely saving their best to last.

Nicely set up for the grand finale, although Jerry Only had been wandering around in the crowd for a while all ready, signing stuff, posing for photos, generally having the crack. It was great to see the shine in people’s eyes when they were with him, a punk hero for many. Of course I’d met him before (ooh, hark at him), but took the opportunity to tell him how my wife had put the shirt he’d signed previously in the wash, he commiserated. (We’re still married, and it did stink).

He took the stage first, whipping every one up, ringing out his colossal distorted bass sound that sends shivers up my spine, introducing first Dez and then (escorted through the crowd) Marky. Then it’s into an explosive opening of their punk/death rock classics, 3 minute wonders, sing along about sci-fi/horror b movies. Hybrid Moments, Teenagers from Mars, Attitude, Some Kinda Hate, Last Caress ("If you don’t know this one what the fuck you doing here"). Punkedness on the dancefloor, I’m rapidly reminded how impossible it is to pogo and sing those wonderful harmonies at the same time. Next we’re treated to a section of the "Project 1950’s" that is a pet of Jerry’s soon to see light of day, punked up covers of the 3 chord tunes of that era that they believe it all stems from, that the Ramones picked up on in 1975, that the Misfits in turn followed on. Included are Dream Lover and Runaway, it’s surprisingly good, although a whole album's worth may wear thin. Next, to "keep Marky in the Band", a few Ramones numbers, I recognised "Teenage Lobotomy". There was somewhat of a shift change in the crowd and interesting to see how many moved up for these live performances of their favourites, even though only the drummer represented them. The band is obviously as special to them as the ‘Fits are to me, doesn’t strike me though, suspect because they lack that nastier edge, although non-punkers would probably think they were extremely similar. Glad of the opportunity of a comparative breather on the edge of the pit.

The threatening chords of the "Dr. Phibes" intro to their ’97 album signal a return to Misfits mayhem with American Psycho, Walk Among Us, and Dig Up Her Bones off that album. Personally think it stands up with their older stuff, some don’t.

Only a couple of Black Flag songs in "their" set, Rise Above and KKK…, which again provide a particularly special moment for some hardcore fans to lose the plot to. There’s also a short set of the other recent Misfits album, "the best wrestling intro music written" Kong at the Gates, Forbidden Zone, Crawling Eye, Jerry struggling a bit with some of the vocals whilst thundering away at the bass. Fair play, Marky is an impressively powerful drummer at this type of thing, Dez unspectacular but doesn’t need to be. Then its backwards and forwards through the vast back catalogue of "the best punk rock tunes by the guys who f**cking wrote them", 20 Eyes, Sheena is a punk rocker, I turned into a Martian, We are 138, We Don’t Care, Halloween, Astro Zombies, a load more besides.

A short exit before an encore of Black Flag’s "6 pack", the Ramones "Blitzkrieg Bop" and the Misfits "Die, Die my Darling", great stuff, and curiously finishing with a cover of Japanese Misfits clones Balzac’s "The Day the Earth Caught Fire"(available on Breaking every string on his bass kinda signals the show’s over folks but he invites people up for signing stuff etc., I leave, lo and behold its half twelve, times flown on this punk rock nostalgia trip.

All that said, I think it’s an appropriate time to call it a day with seeing the Misfits. I’ve more than had my fill and some classic times but I’m starting to fear diminishing returns and would rather stick to those good memories than be disappointed in the future. I can’t see them releasing any new original material, but if they are about again on one of these "all star" trips can’t recommend them enough to all you who cotton on in times to come to the fantastic tunes, get a blast of them live and in yer face. The next day, woke up, think part of my lung had collapsed due to screaming me head off and it was quite painful to reinflate.

(reviewed by MWJ)


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