Music review: Sylvain Sylvain

PUNK precursors the New York Dolls are so embedded in rock'n'roll lore that it's harder now to imagine the impact their rocky horror freakshow made in the 1970s '“ much more than this affectionate, informal gathering of diehard fans might suggest.
Sylvain Sylvain of 
New York DollsSylvain Sylvain of 
New York Dolls
Sylvain Sylvain of New York Dolls

St Luke’s, Glasgow ***

Founding Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain is touring to promote his autobiography There’s No Bones In Ice Cream but, aside from a couple of unhoned anecdotes, this slightly shambolic stripped-back show was all about the musical recollections with Sylvain sawing away at an acoustic rock’n’roll rendition of Teenage News (from the band’s red leather later phase) while urging the crowd to join in on the high whoops.

Sylvain paid musical and verbal tribute to Bo Diddley and Eddie Cochran, the rock’n’roll trailblazers whose riffs formed the basis of the Dolls’ low-slung garage tunes. New York performer Alison Gordy joined Sylvain for the girl group exuberance of The Shangri-Las’ Give Him a Great Big Kiss (the opening lines were appropriated for the Dolls’ track Lookin’ for a Kiss) and The Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale, evergreen songs which influenced these influencers.

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Gordy also took touching lead on the Johnny Thunders classic, You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory, with Sylvain on electric guitar. A bit like the Dolls themselves, their bare bones versions of Trash, a sprightly Jetboy and Personality Crisis, with sporadic vocal input from the audience, teetered on the brink of collapse but made it through on ragged charm and a sense of mischief.


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