New York Dolls – Glasgow Armadillo – 31/10/11

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BY :   It’s a **** Thing

Alice Cooper 013

When the New York Dolls reformed there was without a doubt a sharp intake of breath from critics and fans alike.

Here was a band whose members were getting on a bit and the chances of them recreating a fraction of the halcyon days of debauched fun seemed to be just too much of a tall order.

Then they delivered, and delivered hard.

It was a real slap in the face for the naysayers and I loved every single second of every gig that I attended.

Then I guess it was all just too much of a good thing and something had to give.

In hindsight the moment that it stopped being one thing and became another was when Steve Conte and Sami Yaffa were sidelined and the ‘Dancing Backward in High Heels’ album was recorded.

The fire seemed to be dampened down quite a bit, and what we got was a great David Johansen album, but a rather poor New York Dolls one.

Then reports trickled in of shambolic – but not in a good way – live outings

The performance at Blackpool, as part of the Rebellion festival, being a particularly slated one as everyone and their dog lined up to air their less than favourable views.

So when I heard that the band were going to be supporting Alice Cooper I really didn’t know what to expect.

The unsettled line up issues seemed to have been addressed, and the uber-talented Earl Slick on guitar was something to look forward to, but was his inclusion in the band going to be enough to gather in the unravelling threads?

Well the truthful answer is no.

It’s not even as if the band have lost their appeal. It’s more that they are just showing their age now.

All the concerns that were aired when they originally reformed have come home to roost.

Technically you can’t fault them, but the New York Dolls were never about technical ability.

This is a band who are a larger than life legend, and anything that they do that falls short of being drenched in the excesses of rock and roll just isn’t good enough, and unfortunately right at this very moment in time they are a mere shadow facsimile of not just the original Dolls, but even the magnificently decadent reformed version.

Going through the motions, and a pedestrian performance are two phrases that should never be used in the same sentence as the New York Dolls, but that day has now arrived as they managed to do both.

However none of this is to say that what they do isn’t to an extent still enjoyable, because it is.

All the best of the shouldabeen hits were rolled out with Trash and Pills managing to lift the show up by the bootstraps to a rather acceptable level, and of course Earl Slick is the fuckin’ man

Similar to how Steve Conte stamped his own authority on the Dolls rather than emulating Thunders. Earl Slick has come along and is doing it differently again.

It’s pointless to get into the subjective argument of who is best.

It’s just a case of preference.

For myself I’d rather have Steve Conte and Sami Yaffa in the line up, but who is seriously going to complain about Earl Slick being the latest six stringer in the line up?

The bottom line is that even a lacklustre New York Dolls are still better than most bands and that’s to their credit, but the point is that they set the benchmark themselves and now they’re struggling to reach it with any real conviction.

So not the car crash in slow motion I was expecting/dreading, but neither was it the salvage job I was crossing my fingers for either.

Hopefully this isn’t the beginning of a slow and unstoppable decline as a band like the Dolls deserve to go out with a bang rather than a whimper.