Words by Helen Knott / Pics by Ella Carman
It’s funny how certain bands attract a hardcore following of loyal fans: The Manics, Sabbath, One Direction… the Ramones.
The first support band, Idol Dead, haven’t quite built up a similar fanbase yet; I think there are about eight of us in the room while they play. Still, to their credit, they don’t let the small crowd put them off.
Their lead singer, Polly, struts and postures like he is headlining Wembley Stadium – climbing speaker stacks and generally acting like an out-and-out rock god.
The music is an always-entertaining series of Guns ‘n’ Roses loving Classic Rock songs, solid and well constructed. It’s a testament to their charm that Idol Dead are able to get the limited crowd to participate enthusiastically in the final tracks’ call and response finale.
Venrez are fronted by Hollywood producer Steven Venrez and have bagged an impressive array of support slots in the last few years, opening for artists such as Slash and Alice Cooper. The venue has filled up a little by the time they take to the stage, but things still feel (and more importantly sound) rather echoey and cavernous.
I don’t know if it’s the lack of people, or the fact that the band is normally a five piece rather than tonight’s four piece, but Venrez sound really muddy. There is very little in the way of bass or treble from the guitars, or melody from the vocalist.
Early on in the performance there is an enjoyably long drone section that makes me think that Venrez might present an interesting and contemporary take on 70s rock. The rest of the set proves I’m mistaken.
Still, we’re all here to see Richie. Richie is the only Ramones drummer who also sang lead vocals and wrote songs for the group, with his most famous Ramones tracks including ‘Somebody Put Something in My Drink’, ‘Smash You’ and ‘I’m Not Jesus’.
As soon as he appears on stage and reaches out to the audience, “I want to touch you”, we know we’re in the presence of a bona fide rock star. Songs come fast, hard and heavy, as Richie and his frenetic band blast us with an almost continuous onslaught of primitive two-minute Punk songs.
Richie, still an impressively fast and talented drummer, alternates between the drum kit and the front of the stage throughout. The set includes a mixture of Ramones songs (including the famous ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’) and material from Richie’s 2013 solo album, Entitled.
This is crowd-pleasing stuff and you can spot the hardcore fans a mile away, typically on their own, wearing their black t-shirts and blue jeans and looking ecstatically happy. I find myself envying them and their almost spiritual experience.
But by the end, old and new fans alike are beaten into submission. And Richie Ramone leaves, as suddenly as he arrived, with an audience hungry for more.
For more on Richie Ramone, visit http://www.richieramone.com/
For more from The Oobleck, visit http://theoobleck.co.uk/