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NYX: Jay Gorham Celebrates New Year’s with John & Exene

Posted by January 8th, 2011 No Comments »

X @ The Moore Theater
New Year’s Eve 2010    
By Jay Gorham 

I kind of miss the past

The first time I saw X , I was a 19-year-old college student on a study tour in San Francisco. X had just released their second album, Wild Gift, on Slash Records.  My friend Glen Gano and I couldn’t wait to see them, knowing only a little about their recent acclaim. (Coincidentally, Glen’s brother Gordon got his first contract with Slash when his band, The Violent Femmes, released their first album two years later.)

The show was everything you would expect from punk rock: loud, fast music, getting slammed around in the crowd, kids on drugs, and attitude. As it got rough John Doe reminded the crowd, “Be careful!  Blood is slippery.”

Nobody knows the party rules 

The performance New Year’s Eve at The Moore had an odd format. It began with a showing of the 1985 film, The Unheard Music. In my exuberance as the film began, I danced down the aisle to find a seat, only to be stopped by an usher and asked to leave. I carefully discussed this with him, getting his assurance I’d get back in. It appeared The Unheard Music was, indeed to be unheard, at least by me, so I went out for some fresh air, and came back in as the film ended and made my way down to the orchestra pit, getting up to the stage.

Be careful where you dance. It is Seattle, after all.

Make the music go bang

X took the stage shortly after to showers of adoration from their loyal fans, and quickly kicked of a performance of their very influential album Los Angeles, from start to finish. The show was truly a love fest between the band, and the audience, who quickly became a sea of bouncing heads.

X Live @ The Moore Theater (2010). Photo by Elisa Sherman.

X Live @ The Moore Theater (2010). Photo by Elisa Sherman.

John and Exene performed from the edge of the stage through most of the songs, appearing to be having as much fun as anyone
there, exchanging big grins with their fans. DJ Bonebrake ripped through the songs as if 30 years hadn’t past. Billy Zoom stood
statue-like, as is his trademark, but slightly more stoic than I remember, and with fewer of his Cheshire Cat grins.

It has become popular for bands to play their classic albums from start to finish, and I was a little wary at first, but it really worked, with the band recreating the album live and as true to its original form as possible. (There thankfully were no honky-tonk versions of “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline” or “The World’s a Mess it’s in My Kiss.”)

Now it’s five to twelve

X played a generous second set with at least a dozen songs from Wild Gift, Under the Big, Black Sun, and More Fun in the New World,
including: “We’re Desperate, “White Girl,” “The Hungry Wolf,” “Blue Spark” and “The Once Over Twice.”

The high point of the evening for me and many more was the last song, as John and Exene came back on and did a beautiful acoustic version of “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts.” The band has continued to play together over the years with only a brief hiatus, and a few changes on guitar mid-stream.

It was nice that this wasn’t just another reunion show. X proved on New Year’s Eve that a great band gets better with age.

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