Last night, Glen Matlock really wanted to make everyone happy. “Are you ready? Do you have a good time?” he asked us several times during his show at the Roxy. The ex-Sex Pistols bassist has organized a few events in celebration of his brand-new album “Consequences Coming,” (just released on April 28) but I am not sure he will be playing any other date in the US. That’s why last night was a very special event, that gathered a unique group of artists (Blondie’s Clem Burke, Steve Fishman, Guns N’ Roses’ Gilby Clarke as well as a few other guests) while spinning Matlock’s prolific career.
If Glen is well known as the bassist of the Sex Pistols, one of the most iconic punk bands, he has been part of many other bands, and the rich catalog of his career was reflected in the diverse setlist of last night’s show: a few songs of the New Wave Power Pop band Rich Kids, that he formed with Steve New, Midge Ure & Rusty Egan, a salute to Iggy Pop (with “Ambition,” a song written by Matlock but first released by Iggy Pop), two Sex Pistols songs (of course) which were very well received by the crowd, as well as many covers.
After a short introduction by Fred Armisen, who stayed around for the entire night, the show started with Frankie and the Studs, a young band next to perfect for the spot: opening a show celebrating the history of punk rock. Frontwoman, vocalist, and guitarist Frankie Clarke has rock & roll blood running in her veins – she is the daughter of Gilby Clarke who was part of Matlock’s band a bit later – and, with a Siouxsie-Sioux-inspired look, she unleashed an authentic punk rock energy. The band played rock anthems with urgency, roaring guitar riffs, and explosive cymbals, and if they made obvious connections with punk, glam, and classic rock, some songs were a bit of a departure from their explosive style with more emotional textures. However, Frankie’s in-your-face vocals never lost their strength and bold empowerment. They closed their set with a crowd-pleasing surprise, a cover of Blondie’s “One Way or Another” with Clem Burke on drums. A dream came true as Frankie declared.
During a funny interlude, Fred Armisen gave us a brief history of punk rock throughout the years with a guitar line in the style of everyone from the Velvet Underground, the Ramones, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Talking Heads, the Gang of Four, the Cramps, Sonic Youth, Pavement, Green Day, Fugazi, Parquet Courts… ending with a full song of the Stranglers, “Duchess,” soon joined by the full band. He also introduced Kathy Valentine who asked Frankie to come back on stage for a Go-Go’s number.
“Consequences Coming” is Glen Matlock’s first solo album since his 2018 “Good to Go” and the songs are written with an authentic punk rock spirit. Everything was played with plenty of energy and, if it was hard to pay attention to the lyrics with so much sonic power on stage, it’s clear that Glen does not spare sharing any of his strong convictions. “All done during the debacle that is Brexit and the rise and fall of the turgid Trump episode in the US,” he wrote about the album. ”These songs reflect my take on the whole sorry mess that has ensued.” The most obvious one was “Head on a stick” which closed the set just before the encore with a “Just cannot let this go/Until there’s someone’s head on a stick.” Can you be more direct?
But it took him a while to play the new songs. “Won’t Put the Brakes on Me” with its propelling and vintage rock tempo, got us all “ready for rock n roll,” and without any pause, the band played another older number, the hard-driving “Keep on Pushing.” Glen and the band visibly took great pleasure at performing the old Pistols classics “God Save the Queen,” or “Pretty Vacant,” while the Rich Kids’ songs (“Burning Sounds” and “Ghosts of Princes in Towers”) reflected a vibrant power pop energy. It was a tumultuous and incendiary set from start to finish, with strong melodies and bright hooks, probably sonically more driven by early ‘70s rock than punk, despite the angry and bold lyrics and their political and personal resonance.
From the hand clap of “Magic Carpet Ride” to “Consequences Coming,” the new songs were strong earworms with potential sing-alongs, while “Tried to Tell You” had a nostalgic doo-wop tone. For “Sexy Beast,” Clem Burke let Slim Jim Phantom of the Stray Cats be the drummer for a song.
All set long you could hear the magnificent Burke signature, and at one point of the show, when the lights were especially dim, he erupted from behind his drum set and screamed “Put the lights on the fucking drummer! The stage needs to be lit, people want to see the band play!” as a photographer, I yelled in approval.
There was also a cover of Richard Hell’s “Blank Generation,” a pumped-up Bob Dylan cover (“Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”), a Small Faces cover (“All or Nothing”) and everyone got back on stage for the encore, building a full house with Fred Armisen, Kathie Valentine, Frankie Clarke, and even Slim Jim Phantom, his wife Jenny Vee, and DJ Kevin Preston (Prima Donna) on back-up vocals. It was the grand finale you see at big shows, shows that want to give everything to their audience but shake up the crowd by screaming “calls to arms” songs. Punk rock will never die.
Won’t Put the Brakes on Me
Keep on Pushing
God Save the Queen (Sex Pistols song)
Burning Sounds (Rich Kids)
Ambition (Glen Matlock and the Philistines, first released by Iggy Pop)
Magic Carpet Ride
On Something (Glen Matlock and the Philistines)
Tried to Tell You
Ghosts of Princes in Towers (Rich Kids)
Blank Generation (Richard Hell & the Voidoids cover)
Can’t Be Myself with You
Head On a Stick
Pretty Vacant (Sex Pistols song)
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Bob Dylan cover)
All or Nothing (Small Faces)
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