With most of the legendary Punks having checked out (or worse, sold out) it’s a rare pleasure to watch an original Punk rocker blasting out the real thing in a proper underground venue. As far as the icons of Punk go, they don’t come much weightier than The Ramones. The band that famously sold more T-shirts than records has recently been undergoing another golden age in pop-culture, recently being name-checked by everyone from U2 to Martin Scorsese and tonight its brother Richie Ramone who will be playing to the Punk faithful.
However, in keeping with the true spirit of Punk, the concert hasn’t even begun yet and there has already been a breakdown. As the fans start to filter in to the venue they’re told that, due to van troubles, opening act Massive won’t be opening the night as planned. This also means that the headline set will now be starting at 20.45pm !
Undeterred, Richie Ramone and his band swagger out and positively rip into “Durango” before signature Richie song “Somebody Put Something In My Drink”. Richie Ramone’s drumming still takes no prisoners even at age 59. Whether he’s had a few drinks or it’s the annoyance of having to go on early I can’t say, but Richie is every inch the leering Punk figure and it certainly adds to the vibe tonight.
While Rhythm guitarist Ben Reagan covers on drums, Richie takes the mic for a selection of solo songs - its striking how well songs like “Smash You” sit alongside Ramones’ classics like “Animal Boy” and “Warthog”.
Lead guitarist Ronnie Simmons and bassist Claire Misstake give the songs such amazing bursts of energy that it literally vibrates up through the floorboards. With a sound that’s lean, dirty and loud they honestly do justice to Ramone’s classics like “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “I Just want to Have Something To Do”. It’s more than a tribute, its hearing the songs as they were meant to be played.
Finishing up with a blistering “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” the gig just passes the one hour mark. It doesn’t matter in the slightest - both Richie and his band have given it their all and they still take time after the show to chat and take pictures with the fans.
With every other fashion house and museum plundering punk iconography, it is hugely satisfying to hear some of the original music played by a lean and hungry band. If tonight proves anything, it’s that Punk really isn’t dead. It’s just moved back to its original home - the underground.