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Rock City, Nottingham 25.09.03
(reviewed by Phil Newall)
Having made our way to Nottingham to witness The Cramps return to these shores I had a couple of concerns; Its been five years since they last visited and a similar period since the last album. A lot has changed in that time, music has moved on, the way music is consumed has altered, the advent of DVD, web sites etc - all these things seemed to have passed Lux & Ivy by as they continue to ply their trade turning out dirty Rock 'N' Roll - I believe they are one of the most influential bands of the last 25yrs yet they don't have an official web site, no material is available on either VHS or DVD. Are The Cramps relevant anymore? Maybe this is due to change, they have reactivated their own label Vengeance Records, and have re-released all the previous albums, in addition they released their first new material in the form of 'Fiends Of Dope Island' which this tour rides on the back of. I was somewhat disappointed with 'Fiends' - don't get me wrong its a good album but it seems to lack that vital spark that some earlier material oozed - maybe hearing it live would be a better setting?
I'd been forwarded the basic core set list from the US tour dates (above) which seemed a pretty good mix of classics plus the better material from 'Fiends' so I was expecting great things..
Support was provided by Queenadreena, though we missed most of the set, so I won't comment other than to say they seemed pretty intense, with Katie Garside baring her chest for the final number...
And onto The Cramps; they took to the stage minus Harry Drumdini, he was replaced by Jim Chandler who previously beat out a rhythm for The Down & Outs. An eager crowd (1700) was ready for some GooGoo Muck..They opened with 'Dames, Booze, Chains & Boots' and the insanity began, within seconds it was obvious The Cramps were back, Lux commenting 'Lets kick the shit out of this town' as they tore into 'New Kind Of Kick' followed by 'GarbageMan'. Lux trashed the stage while Ivy stood to his left looking bored, this being complimented by Chopper on bass, perhaps the coolest man in rock?. Chopper was introduced prior to a dedication to Johnny Cash, and was able to display his enormous 'RIP' tattooed on his stomach, before we were treated to 'The Way I Walk' performed as the original 1958 number with lyrics intact. A couple of tracks from 'Fiends' were played before revisiting classic's like 'TV Set' and 'Psychotic Reaction' during which Lux slashed his black PVC's exposing his manhood before taking to performing on top of the speaker stacks. Having returned to the stage he crawled across the floor and lay at Ivy's patent leather clad feet, then launched into the most demented 'Surfin Bird'. Ivy hammered out the riffs as Lux removed her boots, placing one over the mic stand as he sang through it, this was bettered by Ivy who used the 4' heel as a slide to distort the sound yet more.
In total they were on for an hour, though it seemed like minutes such was the intensity coming from the stage. At the end I was gobsmacked, I'd first seen this band over 20 years ago, and can honestly say time has only added to their performance.
If you get the opportunity to witness The Cramps I urge you to do so, it is a truly life altering experience. Forget the posturing and inane rantings of todays stars, and allow the Cramps into your world - Are The Cramps still relevant? More so than ever "Stay SicK"
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