June 29 2000  Freek Show

Old rockers never die, they just move to L.A.
By Jim Freek

The Usual Suspects

Gary Leonard, Steve Jones and Michael Des Barres hook up with Rosanne Arquette and Michael's son.

In case you haven't noticed by now, old rock 'n' rollers don't die, they just move to L.A., put a band together, and show up at small clubs in town and play covers all night. And nobody's made a better "career" out of doing this than Michael Des Barres and Steve Jones. Proving that it is indeed better to burn out than fade away, the dynamic duo resurrected their band, the Usual Suspects (who were last seen performing weekly gigs at a pub in Santa Monica last year), for an appearance at Club Scream last Monday. Of course, we all know the illustrious track records of each of these blokes: In addition to performing together in an abysmal supergroup called Chequered Past in the mid '80s (and you thought Asia was bad!), Jones' credits include being a Sex Pistol and a Neurotic Outsider, not to mention jumping up onstage with both Sporty Spice and Primal Scream when they play L.A. And Des Barres' own checkered past includes stints in such failed rock bands as Silverhead and Detective; being married to that authoress/super groupie Miss Pamela; a stint as vocalist for the "touring version" of yet another useless supergroup, the Power Station; and popping up in episodes of Melrose Place. Last Monday, when the two took the stage -- Jones looking buff, bronze, rugged, and strangely like Tom Jones, and Des Barres like a spiky-white-haired accountant with an uncontrollable mojo -- they broke into a set of old favorites, including two odes to drugs by the Velvet Underground, the groupie national anthem ( that would be the Rolling Stones' "Star Star"), plus songs by Bowie, the Faces, the Pistols -- and to show the kids that they really know where it's at -- Blur's "Song 2." Flanked by hip-thrustin' go-go dancers, the band was rather remarkable, although we must admit we were a bit worried at first after hearing Des Barres' opening statements: "We're gonna do some songs you might know...and, hopefully, we know them as well as you do!"


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All material 1998/2002 Philjens/

Feature originally appeared in New Times LA
Thanks to Rebecca Perry