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This post-Christmas fix of the NEW YORK DOLLS live at The Fillmore might just be the best show I’ve seen them play since the 2004 reunion. DAVID JOHANSEN was all grins and swagger as he led the band (now STEVE CONTE on lead guitar, BRIAN DELANEY on drums, HANOI ROCKS alum SAMI YAFFA on bass, and, of course, original rhythm guitarist SYLVAIN SYLVAIN) through a set that seemed tailored for a small, intimate, whiskey-soaked club. The packed crowd at Irving Plaza reaped the benefits, however, as the Dolls played fast and loose, throwing in their own musical touchstones and revealing classic early rock and pop influences through partial covers of BO DIDDLEY and MICKEY AND SYLVIA as they have been known to do.
The show began with “Babylon,” followed by “We’re All in Love” and a cover of “Piece of My Heart,” where Johansen’s old-school predilection for gender-bending came to the fore as he pleaded coquettishly, “didn’t I give you nearly everything that a woman possibly can?” After that, the rest of the evening went by quickly, as we were led by his infamous lips and hips through such classic tracks as “Trash,” “Personality Crisis,” “Private World,” and “Jet Boy.” The band played homage to fallen founder JOHNNY THUNDERS as Sylvain sang a stripped-down version of “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory,” which Johansen segued into “Lonely Planet Boy.” Then, after waxing philosophical about the holiday season and his love of New York, he gave us two solid encores before saying goodnight.
Nearly 40 years after their inception, the New York Dolls can still tear a set apart and appease a crowd with their chops and inimitable attitude. Call it glam, call it proto-punk, call it blues on steroids – I still can’t get enough of the original lipstick killers. And while Johansen quipped early on in the show that he didn’t want to be an artist but a work of art, I think it’s safe to say that this New York Doll has already accomplished far more than that.
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