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X kicked ass at Irving Plaza 10/1/11


Around 6 I headed into the city. I picked up some cash and Gatorade at CVS. The doors opened at Irving Plaza at 7, so I didn’t want to be too early. I bought a VIP ticket and was told I could either go upstairs and stand behind the sound board or go anywhere I wanted. After the show I could pick up my VIP poster. The movie Decline of the Western Civilization was on the screen, getting the crowd into the time frame, 1983? Ray Manzarek who produced X's first three albums and who played keyboard for The Doors actually looked young, but of course when I watched the movie (if I did back when it first came out) he was an old man. I assume he was in his forties. The movie was clips of interviews and live shows of the early X. A record executive described how the majors snubbed them, since they were not polished enough compared to Journey and The Doobie Brothers. But this was their saga, not being recognized by the main stream radio, barely mentioned as punk since they played sort of a spastic country and western, rooted rock. The radio played more Brit bands than American like The Blasters and Mats, or dare mention Black Flag, Husker Du. But we were proud of this and raised the underground banner when telling anyone what bands we were into. As the movie played, their songs Johnny Hit and Run, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts, Lonely Wolf, were cheered. The movie was over the screen was pulled up after ten minutes and the band hit the stage. Back in the late 80’s I saw X play in Sag Harbor (Long Island) at Bay Streets, they opened for Warren Zevon. Exene was pregnant, and Billy Zoom was a memory, so I felt as if I didn’t see the whole band. Their guitarist at that time was great, but seeing the original band is like grasping history. I’ve waited to see them for a couple of years, since Billy Zoom was back. I checked their web site and was excited to see they were playing two nights in NYC. I stood upstairs in the balcony, sort of packed in and was amazed how tight they were. Exene wore a black dress, she has been ill. It looked as she lost weight. She drank a couple of beers. Her voice strained, which is normal for her at times and I would wonder what she was contemplating as she looked up at the ceiling in the venue. Is this place any different, maybe the chandeliers are a nice touch of elegance. John Doe had so much energy and actually jumped a few times and came close to the edge of the stage. Billy Zoom Stood in his spot, smiled softly and rarely looked at his fingers as he raced up and down the neck of his guitar, like a possessed child who is racing with the anticipation. He’d shake his hands as if they were either numb or cold. Both he and BJ were smiling at one another, when they came out for the encore, BJ blocked Billy from taking his spot, it was nice to see the sense of humor. I drank two beers, took off my sweatshirt. Each song was tapped by BJ and they’d hit it. Each song, tap tap tap….there was little wasted time and still so many songs could have been played. The crowd was into it, although a tweet from the band earlier that night said tickets were still available. I asked myself what the fuck? This should be sold out. What the fuck? Why not listen to X as much as possible since their music contains the harrowing emotions that kick all of the ass I need to.

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