By Finlo Rohrer
BBC News Online
The New York Dolls played a reunion gig on Wednesday at London's Royal Festival
Hall as part of this year's Meltdown
Festival, curated by Morrissey.
The New York Dolls inspired both punk and heavy metal
Credited as precursors of punk and providing much of the attitude and
musical spirit of the movement, it was no surprise that the foyer of the hall
was abuzz with old punks, new punks and faded rock stars.
Two of the original line-up, guitarist Johnny Thunders and drummer Jerry
Nolan, died in the early 90s from drugs and illness respectively. They were
replaced by a stand-in guitarist and the Libertines' Gary Powell on drums.
Age had not been excessively unkind to two of the survivors, singer David
Johansen, and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain. But bassist Arthur "Killer" Kane,
had lost his hair and looked almost as if he had been sedated to get him on
Even his erstwhile compatriots Johansen and Sylvain seemed surprised at the
toll of the years, with the former asking the audience "Can you believe this
is Killer Kane?"
As a rule bands just shouldn't reform 30 years after the event and shatter
But this reformed band sounded so together and lively and not like
superannuated old duffers that it was impossible not to be having fun.
Morrissey used to be president of the band's UK fan club
Early numbers like Looking For a Kiss and a cover of soul classic Piece of
My Heart showed the band's rock 'n' roll sensibilities.
Their renditions of Jet Boy, Trash and Frankenstein reminded their audience of
their role in founding punk, with Johansen looking eerily Jagger-like and Sylvain tottering round on Cuban heels.
The three remaining members paid tribute to their departed friends with a
moving version of Thunders' You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory.
And they finished on a high note, with Personality Crisis and an encore of
Human Being greeted with a prolonged standing ovation.