An all-female tribute act to the Ramones? You had me at R-A-M-O-N-E-S
There’s always a lot of debate about who the first punk band were. Was in The Stooges in the late ’60s? Was it the Malcolm McLaren managed New York Dolls in the early ’70s? In terms of the ’76/’77 punk explosion though, it’s hard to look past the Ramones. Their self-titled debut album was the first of that run of great punk albums that would include Damned Damned Damned by The Damned, The Clash by The Clash and Never Mind The Bollocks by The Sex Pistols (in fact, Sid Vicious allegedly learned bass by playing along to the Ramones)
Regardless of the Ramones place in the punk Parthenon, it makes perfect sense that the UK would have an all-female tribute act. Not only was punk a truly democratic style of music that was properly inclusive of all genders but the Ramones themselves made no secret of the Phil Spector produced girl groups of the 1960s – if only the Ramonas had covered Baby I Love You, it would have felt like the circle was complete. When you add in the fact that the Ramones were far more popular in the UK than the States, a tribute act like the Ramonas makes perfect sense.
In terms of tribute act, the Ramonas have it down pat, the gig was exactly what you’d expect from a Ramones gig if the brudders were still with us – a lot of songs in a short space of time, each track played as quickly as possible with just a “1-2-3-4” count-in between.
The fear with going to see any tribute act is whether or not they’ll play the songs that you want to hear. Especially with a band like the Ramones who had such a long career and who also had some output that didn’t always match the high bar they set with their early work. The Ramonas don’t disappoint though, sticking to classics – Opening with Teenage Lobotomy and playing Blitzkrieg Bop early.
In fact their only real misstep was when they played The KKK Took My Baby Away. While I don’t know the personal history of the Ramonas, I doubt that their guitarist ever took the lead singers partner and hence this song lacked that pointedness that was evident when Joey and Johnny played it.
The great songs continued to come thick and fast though – Rockaway Beach, Jacky Is A Punk (is there a better throwaway punk lyric than “second verse, same as the first”?) and a brilliant Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue segueing into Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment. They also dashed off I Wanna Be Sedated before ending the set with Pinhead – “Gabba gabba hey!”
An encore duly arrived featuring the Motorhead cover, R-A-M-O-N-E-S and finishing with Sheena Is A Punk Rocker. This was followed with the only piece of audience interaction of the whole show as they introduced an original number, No Persuasion, which was clearly influenced by the Ramones.
From a personal point of view I was really happy as they played most of the songs that I wanted to hear. It must be incredibly difficult to put a set together as the Ramones had so many songs, no real hits and only a couple of real “signature” songs (Sheena and Blitzkrieg Bop maybe?) but the Ramonas did a really good job. I actually lost count of how many songs they played but it was probably more than most bands would play in twice the time they were on stage. I doubt that they could have played a longer set though, such was the energy that they put into the performance. It’s what Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee would have wanted – A great tribute to a great band.