Joey Ramone Tribute @ Manhattan Center Concert Review
Saturday, May 13th, 2001
So a few years ago I went to Joey Ramone's birthday party and saw the great Ronnie Spector and BLONDIE GOT BACK TOGETHER. That was at a little place called Tramps. Saturday night would have been Joey's fiftieth birthday and this time the party was at the Manhattan Center (formerly the Hammerstein). Joey is of course, the tall and pasty shy dude from Queens who led the Ramones through the uncharted region of punk rock becoming the "President of Punk" (as he was dubbed this night). The President sadly passed away last month, but this bash was a glorious send-off. For starters, acting like I owned the place, I walked into the gig and went upstairs and got a  seat (away from the sweaty, standing throng on the floor) because I had to see my beloved Cheap Trick. The show was sold-out instantly so getting in for free would have made Joey proud (not as great as a kid I saw arrested for stealing Ramones records, but I'm a bit of a wuss). Anyway, Bellvue (with the leader of D Generation) was the first band and they did "Heartbreaker" by the Stones. Speakers like Legs McNeil, who started "Punk" magazine, and family members came out and spoke between bands. Also video clips ran with Sabastian Bach, who got booed, and a shorn Joan Jett paying homage to a true rock original. Rick Nielson of the Trick came out for a song I don't know ("I Want You Around"?) with an all-star band of folks I didn't know (Daniel Rey and Mickey Ramone were two). Then Blondie, one of my faves and Ramones CBGB peers, brought the house down with "Dreaming", "Hanging on the Telephone", "Maria" (this is a great song), "Rip Her to Shreds", "One Way or Another", and a great run through "I Wanna be Your Boyfriend". Little Steven was the master of ceremonies by this point and introduced the "pride of Rockford, Illinois" Cheap Trick. Bun E. Carlos was at a drum clinic so somebody else was on skins (?) but Trick blazed through "Hello There", "Hot Love", "ELO Kiddies", "Hešs a Whore", "Clock Strikes Ten" and "Surrender" (which Joey sang on stage with them at Lollapoolooza). Rick said these were songs Joey wanted to hear when he came to Trick shows, but I wanted "I'll Be with You Tonight" which Joey once covered. Plus they could have changed the "Kiss records" line in "Surrender" to "Ramones records" but everybody, like Joey, loves Cheap Trick anyway. A big surprise finished out the evening as all the way from London came goth-punks the Damned. Quite a treat, with Elvis-like smoothie Dave Vanian on vocals, Captain Sensible on guitar, and (maybe) Rat Scabies on skins, doing songs nobody knew. I interviewed Rat on the phone once and after the label called and asked if I said anything to upset him. How sensitive is a cat named RAT SCABIES? At any rate, the band ruled. The Cult and Danzig got a lot from these veterans. They finished with "Smash It Up" and destroyed all their instruments, a fitting epitaph to a New York legend. Gabby came out of a cake at the end and Ring Dings snack cakes were thrown into the audience.
God bless Joey Ramone. -STONE
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