CJ Ramone

By Clare McCabe

Artist:  CJ Ramone

Date / Venue:  Saturday February 7th, Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland

After interviewing the man himself a few weeks back, I was keen to check out what he would be like playing live, especially at such a great small venue as the Kings Arms.

By the time CJ Ramone arrived on stage and launched into his first song, the audience was ready and waiting. PCP Eagles and Fireshark both played short, sharp sets and I must say PCP Eagles are a joy visually to experience live, all tattoos, hair and beards.

And then on come our pal CJ and his mates and 1-2-3-4 away we go.

For the next hour and a half we are treated to a range of classic and new songs including tunes fromReconquista and CJ's latest album, Last Chance To Dance.

"You guys wannna hear a Ramones song?" asks CJ after a few tunes. Why yes, CJ, yes we do.

I am not usually a fan of setlists but for god's sake, tonight CJ and the boys plow through an absolute shitload of our favorite tunes onstage. Last time I heard these songs live was in 1996 in London and that is a long time ago and another story.

Steve and Dan (from the Adolescents) and Pete from Street Dogs are obviously as into these tunes as we are. They are seriously on vocal back-up duties as well as guitars. These guys are tight together, and this is just the first night of a long tour.

We get Judy is a Punk, Blitzkrieg Bop, I Wanna Be Sedated and KKK Took My Baby Away - and that's just for starters. We get One More Chance from his latest album and the marvellous Three Angels (a song for the fallen Ramones brothers).

CJ is a fan of the audience banter - my favourite line of the night from him: "Anyway, I'm the lone survivor and I can play what the fuck I want". He was talking of the many love songs that the Ramones wrote but seldom played live. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend follows, with Dan and Steve harmonising behind CJ singing the main verse. So. Damn. Cool.

Carry Me Away is the last song they play from the latest album and then it becomes a full-on set of solid Ramones tracks. Californian Sun, Commando, Rockaway Beach, Sheena is a Punk Rocker... And the boys even sneak in Baby I Love You, my all-time favourite which Ramones never played live... To be honest I appear to be missing part of my voice this morning...

If you are a fan or the Ramones, trust me, you should try and catch CJ and the boys on tour. Enjoy Australia boys and pop back to NZ when you have the chance. There will be a beer with your name on it.

In the words of CJ (and something I have always lived by) - Ramones Forever.