Sunday, January 17, 2010

Robert Gordon & his Gang Can Still Hang With the Best of Them

The hottest ticket in Minneapolis this past weekend was not to the Metrodome and the Vikings Annihilation of the Dallas Cowboys 34-3 in the NFC Divisional Playoff game on Sunday, but rather the Rockabilly Event of the year at Lee's Liquor Lounge: Robert Gordon & the Gang They Couldn't Hang featuring Stray Cats drummer Slim Phantom, original Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock and the phenomenal guitar legend Chris Spedding.

Like any music fan who grew up in the Washington, D.C. area in the 1970's I was an ardent fan of the Maryland native, who was easily the greatest Rockabilly singer/stylist of his generation. I have also seen several concerts over the years by Mr. Gordon, both good and bad. The good included the show he did with Chris Spedding on guitar 32 years ago this March at Ritchie Coliseum at the University of Maryland and the bad, like the half hour performance he did with Link Wray at the Cabooze Bar in Minneapolis some years later. Happily last night was a triumph for all concerned.

Taking the stage around 11:30 PM (following opening sets by the Fuck Knights and the Restless Ones, both of which showed a potential for bigger things, if they remember to change it up every now and then and use more dynamics and less energy), Gordon and gang opened with one of Robert's signature numbers off of Fresh Fish Special, "The Way I Walk" followed by "Lover Boy" from his Gatton days.
Robert may be looking older these days, aren't we all, but the real disconcerting thing was that the co-founding member of the Sex Pistols looked in better shape for the years than I did!

Said Sir Glen Matlock, who provided a muscular backing bass line throughout the nearly one Hour and thirty minute performance also was given the reigns for a couple of night's selections, as were the other members of the gang, including a rousing but not snearing, rendition of the Pistols banned hit in Britan, "God Save the Queen" (which the make-up wearing glamour boys in the Restless Ones thought, Carly Simon-like, was about them. Only kidding.)

The weakest and youngest member of the gang, Stray Cat's stand-up drummer, Slim Phantom, had a little fun fucking with the crowd saying there was a good friend in the crowd and sarcastically that they needed his help (Spedding was playing circles around anything Minneapolis-transplant Brian Setzer could do) on the next one before launching into "Rock This Town" to the crowds excited whispers and glee. Sorry folks, no Setzer but who needed him. Certainly not Chris Spedding whose 4 songs were "Lonely Weekend", " Nite Patrol", "Guitar Jamboree" in which he made his Eddie Cochran-style Gretch sound like Albert King's Flying Vee to Hendrix's Strat and every great guitarist, except Danny Gatton, in between, and his signature song about his "Motorbike" (also known as a motorcycle here in the States).

But the true star of this night of musical Make Believe was Mr. Gordon. Robert was having a ball in great spirits, looking alert and healthy and most importantly in fine voice. Nobody, and I mean nobody, except Elvis of course, can sing like Robert Gordon, whose banter with the pretty women up front continued all night long. In addition to the songs previously mentioned Gordon ripped through Minnesota's-own, Eddie Cochran's "'C'mon Everybody", Elvis' "Suspicion", "Look Who's Blue" off of "Are You Gonna Be the One", the song Springsteen gave to him, "Fire", complete with great guitar sample by Spedding, "I Wanna Be Inside You", "Thing Called Rock", "Sweet Nothings", another Elvis, "Devil in Disguise", Dion's "The Wanderer", the King's "Mess of Blues", a good new number "Hot Rod", "You Make Me Wanna Get Next to You", the requested and requested "Black Slacks", "It's Only Make Believe" and the anthem "Rockabilly Boogie". Rockabilly indeed!

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