New York Dolls: Live Last Night

Live Last Night

When he fronted the proto-punk New York Dolls in the early 1970s, David Johansen was an undiscriminating thrift-store shopper: He took as much from the women's aisles as the men's.

Friday night at the 9:30 club, leading the band's latest incarnation, Johansen wore black-rimmed glasses, white polo shirt and flared dark pants; he looked more like a hip substitute teacher than Staten Island's answer to Ziggy Stardust.

But in a set that drew mostly from the band's 1973 debut, he and the current lineup played their still-outrageous early material with conviction.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

The Dolls reunited in 2004, provisionally at first. By 2006 and "One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This," they'd developed a slicker version of their original blend of blues-rock grit and girl-group camp.

But on Friday, the band revealed some significant alterations: The keyboardist is gone, and the other musicians are looser. If not as anarchic as the original Dolls, the new crew was exhilarating, rough and unpredictable.

On the opening "Looking for a Kiss," the four instrumentalists -- including guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, the only other original member -- showed more energy than Johansen. But the singer came to life over the course of the 90-minute set, interjecting bits of classic blues and
rock songs into Dolls classics.

These homages were in the spirit of the band's new " 'Cause I Sez So," which gazes much further into the musical past than 1972. Finally, though, it was rousing versions of such originals as "Dance Like a Monkey" and "Personality Crisis," written more than 30 years apart, that drove the show to its vibrant conclusion.

-- MARK JENKINS

By J. Freedom du Lac |  June 21, 2009; 9:49 PM ET Live Last Night
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