At The Think Tank, Sunderland, U.K., November 10, 2017

MANITOBA NYC (Live at The Think Tank, Sunderland, U.K., November 10, 2017)
Photo: Mick Burgess

The name may have changed but the essence of the band formerly known as The Dictators is very much alive and screaming. After years of touring with the name, legal action by a former member forced the change but nothing can change the spirit of the band still fronted by original members, the hugely charismatic Handsome Dick Manitoba and the legendary six string slinger, Ross The Boss. No matter what any lawyer may say, this IS The Dictators.

When The Dictators landed in the UK 3 years ago, it was their first appearance on these shores in 37 years. Now back for their third tour since then they have more than made up for that elongated absence.

Seen as the natural link between the Garage Punk of The Stooges and MC5 and the more Rock’n’Roll punk of The Ramones, who’s debut album they predated with their own by a year, the Dictators were the drivers and innovators of the burgeoning New York Punk scene in the mid-’70s. Their influence was felt far and wide with their classic Go Girl Crazy hailed as one of the all-time Punk classics and to have them in Sunderland is a rare treat indeed, especially in the recently opened Think Tank club upstairs in The Peacock.

They asked the question, Who Will Save Rock and Roll and Manitoba NYC answered that very question with an energetic, impassioned and hugely enjoyable set of fired up Rock ‘n’ Roll straight from the streets of New York.

What better way to start than The Party Starts Now slamming straight into the gang vocals of Haircut and Attitude and The Next Big Thing pure, raw, in your face, Rock’n’Roll energy stripped of all pretension and gimmicks.

Lead singer, Handsome Dick Manitoba is from the old school. A proper frontman with hilarious between song banter and razor-sharp retorts to comments from the crowd. Life as a comedian surely beckons if he ever decides on a career change.

There’s no political commentary from these guys, it’s all about fun whether looking back on the crazy exuberance of their youth in Weekend or espousing the triple glories of burgers, beer and ladies in Master Race Rock. This is what Rock’n’Roll is all about, carefree fun and Manitoba delivers on all counts.

New song, Supply and Demand sounds as if it could have come from their classic Go Girl Crazy opus showing that the creative embers still burn brightly. Hopefully there’s more new stuff to come soon.

There’s something about a 1,2,3,4 count in that proceeds the ferocious Punk Rock whirlwind of Faster and Louder that really gets the blood pumping especially when Manitoba is in the crowd to get help with the backing vocals.

It may have been freezing cold in Sunderland but the fiery passion of a spirited romp through the MC5 classic, Kick Out The Jams, complete with original intro, was more than enough to banish those feelings of the coming winter into a distant thought.


  • 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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