Doug Pearson jasret at MINDSPRING.COM
Thu Jul 1 20:47:14 EDT 2004

I saw the surving members of the MC5 last night in San Francisco.
Definitely worth the not-so-cheap $25, although definitely not as
authentic as last year's Stooges reunion.  Sort of like the "Grande
Ballroom" ride in the "Hippieland" section of Disneyland.

The songs were played a bit on the slow side (disappointing), but the
Davis/Thompson rhythm section was still extremely powerful.  Wayne Kramer
had the exact same stage moves & facial expressions that you see in old
MC5 videos/film footage - if he still had the hair, he'd look exactly like
he did 35 years ago.

The second guitarist, replacing Fred Smith, was Marshall Crenshaw; I was a
bit leery when I heard that, but he did an excellent job, and clearly
earned his place on the stage.  Most of the singing was by Mark Arm
(Mudhoney), a most-inspired choice; he definitely kicked out the jams!
For some reason, they also had Evan Dando (Lemonheads) singing a few of
the songs, but the only one that Arm couldn't have handled better was the
ballad, "Let Me Try" (which was probably the low point of the show,
anyway).  Most of the shows have featured local guest vocalists, too
(Handsome Dick Manitoba singing "Call Me Animal" in NYC sounds
particularly appealing), so in San Francisco we got Roy Loney (Flamin'
Groovies) singing the '5's Chuck Berry covers (and adding percussion for
the final encore).  Another inspired choice.

Wayne did most of the song introductions and was clearly directing the
band, while letting fly with some scorching solos (although one of my punk-
rock friends was making the "wank" motion while he played them).  The
version of "Starship" was remarkably close to the 'Kick Out The Jams'
version, and incredibly spacey/psychedelic (another one the "I only like
punk" people were a bit lost on).  For "Ramalama Fa Fa Fa", Brother Wayne
managed to get some impressive (at least impressive for typically-jaded SF
audiences) three-part participation out of the audience ... granted,
that's now an arena-rock cliche, but the MC5 were doing that in 67/68,
before arena-rock really existed to be a cliche yet.  And, not
surprisingly, political statements were made immediately before they
played "American Ruse".

The approximate setlist was (a couple songs missing and/or out-of-order):

Tonight (sung by Marshall Crenshaw)
Ramblin' Rose (sung by Wayne Kramer)
I Can Only Give You Everything (sung by Michael Davis)
Kick Out The Jams
Call Me Animal
Human Being Lawnmower
Sister Ann
Tutti Frutti (sung by Roy Loney)
Back in the USA (Loney again)
Looking At You
Shakin' Street
(A Ray Charles cover I can't remember the title of)

Let Me Try
High School
Ramalama Fa Fa Fa (Rocket Reducer 62)
American Ruse

(On-topicness: one of the guest singers for their first reunion show was
one Lemmy Kilminster, but to the best of my knowledge, they haven't had
Eric Bloom [I assume it was Eric?] sing "Kick Out The Jams" like he did on
SEE.  And one of Mudhoney's most recent releases had Mark Arm
singing "Urban Guerilla".)

     jasret at

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