Review: New York Dolls at the State Theatre
I wish that I had grown up in New York during the seventies so I could have seen the New York Dolls in their heyday.
It's not because the Dolls were lackluster on Tuesday at the State Theatre. The show just made me want to see them back when the music was groundbreaking and new.
Now that the Dolls have aged, I was afraid that I was going to go into the show and be dissapointed by the lack of energy. My fears were ultimately quelled when the Dolls came on after an opening of opera playing over the sound system.
While it's not as revolutionary as it used to be, the Dolls still keep the zaniness at a high point and manage to get the whole crowd moving, which is saying a lot when a lot of the crowd is composed of older fans.
You can't talk about the Dolls without making special mention of the vocalist David Johansen. He still has enough stage presence to carry a whole show, and he still looks good dressing in skin tight jeans and shirts at 59 (something that I can't even do at 24). Dancing around the stage in a mercurial fashion, Johansen is able to show off why he is one of the greatest front-men of the rock music era.
While there are only two original members of the band left playing, you wouldn't be able to tell that if you just came and saw the concert with no knowledge of the Dolls. Everyone in the Dolls fits in perfectly with their clothing and style. The show almost felt like I was back at a '70s glam rock concert.
If you showed up for the concert to just see the Dolls though, you missed out. The opening band, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, are one of the best new bands I've ever seen. With saxophone and guitar players, Lewis was able to channel the spirit of old rock and roll. It doesn't hurt that Lewis matches the graceful guitar of Chuck Berry.
Like old rock and roll, there was a lot of blues influence in Lewis' performance. Songs had specific stories (including one about an old man shooting a repo man) and he sung his guitar over his back at one point to bring out his harmonica. Lewis was able to deliver pure rock and roll bliss.
I expect that the next time these guys are in town, they'll be playing to a sold-out crowd.
They were a perfect complement to the Dolls. With both bands playing styles of music that aren't as prevalent as they used to be, I left the concert with a warm feeling of nostalgia and excitement to see what the next revolution in the world of rock and roll will be.
--Story/photos by Leigh Armstrong, Times Staff Writer
Check after the jump for more photos of the Dolls on stage!