at O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., March 27, 2011

The New York Dolls certainly seem to have a love affair with the fine City of Newcastle. Maybe it was the weeks spent in the region recording their latest opus, Walking Backward in High Heels or perhaps it was the legendary, sweaty, 3-night residency at the jam packed club, The Cluny, where they road tested much of the new material before laying it down on tape, or maybe it was the people of Newcastle who opened their arms to the Dolls and welcomed them in as their own. Whatever it was, the New York Dolls seemed to really bond with the place to the extent that local musicians guested on the album and the city of Newcastle became indelibly linked with the rich history of the New York Dolls. It was therefore only natural that Newcastle would be one of the chosen sites for their whistle-stop tour of the UK, and as they hit the stage, they looked as though they had returned back home and were loving every minute of it.

New York DollsJoining the original Dolls (frontman David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain), was one time Bowie guitarist Earl Slick, whose last appearance in Newcastle was with former Guiffra’s vocalist David Glenn Eisley’s band Dirty White Boy, supporting Magnum at the City Hall over two decades ago. Slick has a fine pedigree as a guitarist and was the perfect choice both visually and musically to fill the huge shoes of the legendary Johnny Thunders, which were latterly filled by Steve Conte — and at last year’s shows by Blondie’s Frank Infante.

For a band who have been around more blocks than a New York cab driver, it would be tempting to play it safe and rely on a Greatest Hits set of their ’70’s material, but they were certainly not content to sit back and live off their old glories. With a set containing a potent blend of classics with plenty of newer material, the New York Dolls were certainly in explosive form.
Kicking off with a rampant “Looking For A Kiss” before heading straight into “I’m So Fabulous” from the new album, and “Cause I Sez So” from their 2009 album of the same name, the band pretty much set the tone for the whole evening by delivering a well-paced set covering material across their career.

New York DollsThe band are obviously proud of their critically acclaimed new album, which shows a diversity and maturity not present on their earlier recordings, playing no fewer than seven songs including the cocksure, sassy strut of “Funky But Chic”, which has the arrogance and swagger of the Rolling Stones at their sleaziest best, but unfortunately there was no place for “Round And Round She Goes” (come on boys, get it in your set, pronto!)!

Fans of vintage Dolls weren’t left out either as they let rip with the likes of “Private World”, “Trash”, “Who Are The Mystery Girls”, and “Jet Boy”, complete with a turban-wearing Johansen throwing flowers into the crowd. Bo Diddley’s “Pills” and “Hey Bo Diddley” gave a shot of Rock’n’Roll into the proceedings before the show came to a close with the wistful, Reggae-infused “End Of The Summer” and the riotous sleazefest of their signature tune “Personality Crisis”.

New York DollsThe New York Dolls may never have had the platinum sales that they deserved, but their influence on a generation of bands from Kiss, Motley Crue, the Sex Pistols and the like is undeniable. With a performance like this it is clear why they have continued to inspire bands today. Many have tried to emulate them, but few have succeeded. The New York Dolls are one of a kind.

There may only be two original members left, but the spirit of the New York Dolls is alive and kicking and a major force on stage. With an excellent new album in the bag and a tour of The States with Motley Crue and Poison lined up, the future has never been brighter for the New York Dolls.

The New York Dolls new album Dancing Backward In High Heels is out now on Blast Records.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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