Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Dictators NYC - Better Than Ever, And They Were Already The Kings of New York

The Dictators NYC
The Blue Lamp, Sacramento, California, USA
January 13, 2015

I'm still reeling. It's that great feeling you get when you wake up feeling like you got hit by a train, but you liked it.

The Dictators NYC might just be the best live lineup that this long running legendary band has yet presented. Frontman Dick Manitoba, guitarist Ross "The Boss" Friedman, and stickman JP "Thunderbolt" Patterson have kept this hard rock juggernaught alive through thick and thin, and they are just now hitting their peak. That's a lot to ask of the band that may have arguably and unintentionally invented punk rock way back in 1973, but they are more than up for the task, and they have added some incredible firepower in the guise of legendary New York producer/guitarist Daniel Rey (The Ramones, and too many others to mention), and another longtime NYC record producer, Dean Rispler on bass - this band is the daisy cutter of rock 'n roll. What they are is one of the absolutely best rock bands on the planet.

We gathered in the backroom of The Blue Lamp in Sacramento, California using the ice machine's motor for a room heater, and wondered what kind of crowd would turn up on a deserted downtown street corner on a Tuesday evening in January, but by showtime there were several hundred of the faithful gathered and ready to rock. And rock they did - this was one of the best, most inspiring shows I've seen, and I've been seeing shows for over forty years now.

Blasting out of the barricades with a crushing version of their classic anthem 'New York, NewYork', The Dictators NYC instantly one the room, and they kept it for the next two hours. Dick Manitoba may have started out his career as a somewhat clownish oddity, but he's become a truly great rock field commander - he drives the band, and they chase him down the alley with a fury that belies their age. JT "Thunderbolt" Patterson is still a furious basher, and Ross "The Boss" Friedman is still the guitarist who took his leave from inventing punk rock to conceive power metal with his seminal act, Manowar. 'The Party Starts Now'.

"Who Will Save Rock 'N' Roll' may be the greatest rock anthem you've never heard, and if any band could do that, it might be this lot. I've seen them all, loved most of them, and this night was right up there with them as the best - if you have an idealized vision of what a night of rock should be, this was it. Drinks with the band before the show, working the merch table, fist pumping with a crowd that took you a little higher with each song, and then meeting half the audience and raising yet another cup - yeah, this was it. The kind of night they put in the movies when movies still mattered.

The Dictators NYC entered my life back in 1975, and I can honestly say that my life was never the same - as I told Ross Friedman last night, no sooner had I heard his incendiary soloing on 'The Next Big Thing' (the first cut from their debut album 'Go Girl Crazy!'), I went out an bought an Ibanez lawsuit three pickup white SG copy that looked close enough to his 1964 Gibson to get me honing my chops, and there's been no looking back. Well, he's still wielding that guitar, and I'm just as impressed with his take no prisoners approach as I ever was. This guy eats, sleeps, and breathes rock, and between this band's resurgence and his up and coming metal band Death Dealer, he's never been busier. This is a guy who needs to write a book, and not only tell his tales, but to tell us how it's done. A great, great guitarist, and one of music's true gentleman. He sure knows how to throw a party.

The party went on and on, the audience singing every word of every song and moving just like they did for the band's thirty-some shows at CBGB over the years. 'Slow Death', 'Haircut And Attitude', 'Avenue A', you name it, they played it, and since they've upped the ante to being a two Les Pauled weapon, they are primed for mass destruction. Tighter, tougher, and dare I say more inspired and inspiring than ever. I hadn't seen the band since 1978, and what was a far off memory that I recall as being a pinnacle got upped - they say never let the third act be boring, and The Dictators NYC are living this axiom.

I've lived great rock. It's the only thread that remains uncut in my entire life, and nights like last are why. Everything we ever looked and hoped for in the music came true, and the religiosity of the experience was the sort that could set this world right if only it would listen. It was as unholy as it was holy, my head is ringing like a bell, and I'm smiling like a little kid. That is exactly what I want from my rock, and why I've stayed the course.

The Dictators NYC - as good a rock band as there is, and one of the fastest moving and hard charging of their breed. They could teach the kids something, if the kids were only listening. This is the band's best ever live lineup, don't believe me, that's their words. And they do not take their legacy lightly.

Now this band just need to get a new record into my hands. Then we can keep this party going for another twenty years, if we're lucky. I'll stop now, but remember this - Rock Ain't Near Dead, and The Dictators NYC are the living proof. Great thanks to everyone in the band, and especially to Mr. Ross "The Boss' Friedman for his hospitality, his old school/hard knocks wisdom, and his great set of hands. This was one for the record books, ma.

I might just have to drive to San Francisco and do this again tomorrow night.    

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