The California summer may never end, but tonight in downtown Sydney – it was a cold and chilly wind that greeted me when I arrived at Sydney University’s Manning Bar for a dose of Cherie Currie flavoured rock n roll.
I never in my wildest dreams, thought Cherie would jet downunder, yet here we are – half way through a run of gigs in both New Zealand and Australia. I for one, am appreciative. If you search this blog, you will correctly conclude I have been a Runaways disciple (and vocal supporter) for decades. In fact, 1977’s Waitin’ For The Night is forever etched in my top ten favourite records of all time. So again, having Cherie Currie announce a tour of Australia some months back was welcome news.
With no fanfare (or intro tape for that matter) – Currie and band crash the stage with a blistering take of ‘American Nights’. Kim Fowley wrote some mighty infectious songs throughout his life – and this is up there with the best of em, still sounding as potent as ever some forty years after he and former Hollywood Star Marc Anthony co-penned it.
The Velvet Underground classic ‘Rock n Roll’ figures in Runaway-history way back to when they were a trio – (Joan, Sandy and Micki Steele) and is aired next. Although considered sacrilegious by some to say anything negative about the Velvet Underground
– I will nevertheless take the risk and reiterate the long held belief of many – The Runaways’ recording of Rock n Roll from 1976 stomps all over the original – closely followed in my opinion by Mitch Ryder and Detroit’s interpretation from 1972. Ms Currie belts this out like it’s 1977 and the Sydney set are diggin’ it.
‘Rock n Roll Rosie’ – penned for the upcoming Suzi Quatro film is cool and catchy – and littered with lyrics expressing Currie’s admiration for one of Detroit’s finest. If you get ahold of Currie’s just-released ‘Midnight Music in London’ album – check out this one out closely as Quatro herself joins Cherie on stage for a guest stint. Two thumbs up from Mr Rockbrat.
The frenetic ‘Dear Mum’ is shadowed by a thumping ‘Is It Day Or Night’. I’ve always dug Fowley’s cryptic lyrics on this – ‘Porcupine kiss, novacaine lips’ – how the hell he came up with lines like that is beyond my comprehension. Most punters tonight seem familiar with the tune so I’m guessing the Runaways debut LP would be in their iTunes (modern talk for K-tel Record Selector)…
Y’know one of the best things to come out of the Runaways film – apart from turning kids onto the band – was that the youngsters got hipped to artists like Bowie and the great Nick Gilder. Tonight Cherie and band crank out a heavied-up take of Gilder’s ‘Roxy Roller’ and it’s a
night highlight. Man Nick Gilder had some tunes didn’t he !? Cherie’s rendition of ‘Roxy Roller’ smokes and her recorded version you can hear on her upcoming album due out in September. Yes, finally – Blackheart Records will release the new Cherie Currie album (applause). About time.
I return from the bar just as Cherie cranks a bunch of my favourite Runaways tunes: “Heartbeat”, “Queens of Noise”, ‘California Paradise’ and a stunning “Midnight Music”. Currie’s voice is stonger than ever by the way – the proof is there for all to hear – especially in songs like the raging California Paradise. Currie knows how to work an audience so well, and I am beginning to think I shoulda got a ticket for another show as well. Darn it.
The impact David Bowie had on Cherie Currie is immense – life changing, and the couple of Bowie songs she performed in his honor tonight were heart felt and emotion charged. A visibly upset Cherie momentarily paused and spilled tears during a stunning rendition of Lady Grinning Soul. In many years of seeing live music, this is one moment I will treasure – nothing staged or pretentious, just warm and real. “Rebel Rebel” follows fast and man it’s good. Bowie would be smiling. So too Mick Ronson – whose contributions to much of
Bowie’s work must never be underestimated…(isn’t the integral piano part contained in Lady Grinning Soul played by Ronno?!)
Incidentally, if you view The Runaways movie – you’ll see Dakota Fanning performing Bowie’s Lady Grinning Soul at the school talent show and have food thrown at her… Cherie tonight re-corrects this with “actually I did 1984 and I won that fuckin’ show”. So there you go readers. For what it’s worth I reckon “1984” from Bowie’s Diamond Dogs album woulda been a better choice for Fanning to do…and it woulda kept the story straight.
“Believe” – lifted off the recent Reverie album is an album highlight and is aired tonight to welcoming ears. Maybe I’m all Kiss-ed out but I could do without the cover of Kiss’ Do You Love Me. Yep, thanks Sherlock, I am aware it’s another Fowley co-write, but as a life-long Kisser, I could pass on this. Whoever does Cherie’s set-list, strike a line through the
Kiss cover and replace it with Russ Ballard’s Since You’ve Been Gone will ya !? Or how about the Roni Lee/Kim Fowley stomper ‘I Wanna Be Where The Boys Are’ ? ! Hell yeah !!!
The hour long set closes with a fiery “Cherry Bomb”. It’s become an anthem, and deservedly so. It’s a memorable ending.
In closing let me state this: Cherie Currie is the real rock n roll deal. A trail blazer. If you know your facts – you’ll know her life has had many challenges, but Currie remains strong and is an inspiration to many. I have seen many great nights of live rock n roll, and tonight’s show by Cherie Currie is up there with the best of em.
Hear an interview conducted with Cherie on the eve of her Australian tour here