NEUROTIC OUTSIDERS LIVE:
Mr. Moo's Futurama: 18th September 1995
featuring STEVE JONES
It seemed to me that the word had got around. A small ad. appeared in a small freebie paper called 'The L.A. Times'. Monday September 18th, Mr. Moo's Futurama - live performance by Steve Jones, Duff McKagen, Matt Sorum and John Taylor. The names obviously rang a few bells, but could it be the Steve Jones ? All 'phonecalls to the Viper Room were met with an answerphone, and a visit to the club over the weekend to a crap 70s disco night could not confirm anything so I decided to take a chance.
It was $7 to get in and the doors open at 9pm (so we were told). So we got to the club at 8pm and found a queue already stretched around the block. No problem I thought until I was told that the maximum the club holds is 160 people! I was in good company - in front of me in the queue were a couple from Scotland who'd heard that Steve was playing and behind were a group of six lads from Manchester working their way around the States on a months holiday - just in the right place at the right time. We were all here for one man only - Steve Jones. The doors eventually opened at l0pm and after being frisked and showing ID we got in and made our way to the bar. Bottles of beer were $4 each so prices weren't too bad. The disco was very loud - playing Bowie, Iggy, T-Rex, Bauhaus and Pistols - and the room at The Viper Club is small with 8 tables and benches next to the walls and silver foil covering all the walls and decor. The stage is opposite the bar and whilst we were waiting in front of the stage (by this time it was pretty packed) we had waitress service so we didn't lose our place.
By just after midnight we were all starting to get a little restless, and as the disco died down an announcement was made. "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the best band in the world - Mr. Moos Futurama!" The crowd went wild. The curtains pulled back and there he was - one foot perched on the bass drum of Matt Sorum, and his white Les Paul ready to go. The band launched into "Planet Earth" (Duran Duran) with John Taylor on vocals, and the place erupted. Steve was looking older but fresh (no more long hair) and he could still move. He was the only one throughout the set jumping open-legged in the air as in all your old Pistols videos, and moving across the stage as if it was four times the size it was.
The group were surprisingly tight - Steve wore a crazy dotted silk shirt with black trousers and black patent shoes, and Duff and Matt wore vests and black trousers. John had a white shirt and black waistcoat on and they all seemed to sense that Steve was who the crowd were here for and they were all really enjoying themselves. The group then played two new Steve Jones numbers - both with Steve on vocals, one of them called "Let Go", and both sounding very much a cross between Steve's last album and the "Instinct" LP Steve did with Iggy Pop a few years ago. Next the band launched into two Stooges numbers "Raw Power" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog" with Duff on vocals, leaving Steve free to move about. Steve seemed as if he was really enjoying himself, exchanging many a word and laugh with John Taylor, and when the band played the opening chords for "Silly Thing" the crowd went berserk. With Steve now back on vocals and centre stage it was pure adrenalin and took me back too many years to remember. After "Silly Thing" Steve slowed everything down to sing a new song called "The Story Of My Life". It was very slow and I think not what the crowd wanted to hear (although listen to the lyrics) and this and the next song, which he said was hopefully his new single, will be on his new release. At this point I shouted at Steve "Give it some bollocks" . He looked at me and laughed. "Yeah" he said, "Give it some bollocks, this one's Pretty Vacant." Duff sang vocals on 'Vacant" and Steve was happy just to play, move, and do back-up vocals. Next the band played "New Rose" (Damned), again with Duff on vocals, and John swapping from bass to rhythm guitar.
By now the crowd were just one sweaty mass. A girl standing next to me had managed to take a few photos over the last couple of songs but as she tried to take another a bouncer grabbed her camera and took it off her. They took the film out and gave her back her camera afterwards. She was livid so I promised to send her a couple of photos (if my camera survived the evening). The bouncers then stayed in the crowd looking for flashlights going off. Next, Steve took centre stage again and the group performed "Bodies" with Steve on vocals. After it has finished Steve said "Sid would be turning in his grave if he heard that!" The band then played another new Steve Jones song which sounded similar to "Freedom Fighter", again with Steve on vocals, and a typically brilliant guitar solo with Steve really throwing his guitar around.
Steve came up to the microphone - "Please welcome a very good friend of mine - Mr. Brian Setzer!" And up on stage he jumped - from where I don't know - with his orange Gretch in hand looking just as he did in the Stray Cats, and launched into "Something Else" with Brian on vorals. The crowd went mad. The stage isn't really big enough for a three-piece band but now with four guitarists and a drunmer it was a little packed to say the least (and so was the crowd). When the crowd had settled down a bit John announced that this next number was one of the band's all-time favourites - "Virginia Plain"(Roxy Music). John sang vocals and played bass.
Next the band played a Beatles number, "All My Loving", with Brian now back on vocals, and interestingly Steve was really pushing each chord out and lifting his Gibson up to reveal the phrase "F7" written in large black tape on the back of his guitar as he threw it about the stage.
"This," Brian announced, "is our last song tonight." So as the crowd surged forward, the drum intro to "Janie Jones"(Clash) started. Again Brian sang vocals whilst John and Duff swapped guitar and bass. Steve didn't miss a chance to move and so the evening came to an end. We wanted more but the band thanked the crowd and apologised for not doing an encore as these were the only songs they had learnt. As they left the stage to a private room (from which Johnny Depp had been watching, through a two-way mirror he has had installed in a wall next to the bar), they all walked through the crowd where we all took our chance to grab Steve and congratulate him. He assures me that there will be a new single very soon (not soon enough). He was in a very buoyant mood as he thanked us and disappeared with the rest of the band into their private room.
For anyone visiting L.A. and into Steve as much as me, it's worth your while to visit the Hard Rock Cafe on Beverly Boulevard. You'll find Steve's black Les Paul as used in the ill-fated American tour with the inscription "Drugs suck - Steve Jones". Oh, and by the way, the food's good too.
Review by Eddie Merrick
(Review originally appeared in the fanzine "Never Trust A Hippie" No. 11.)
All material ©Philjens/www.cookandjones.co.uk 1998/2002