Since gigs are pretty much off the agenda for a while. Since we still need a dose of what a live gig can offer us. Since they still stand as one of the most enjoyable live performers of this century. And since they’re New Zealanders and, thanks to Jacinda Ardern and others, that makes them automatically impressive humans, Wind Back Wednesday returns to a night out with The Datsuns in 2004.
This may be how we fill our Wednesdays for a while. So slip on your tight jeans, shuck the leather jacket and prepare to swing whatever hair you have left.
Enmore Theatre, August 28
This may come as a shock to you but the Ramones were never confused with intellectuals.
Not for Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee (and whomever was drumming with the complex “onetwothreefour” intro) any of those great philosophical debates about the place of the artist, the tangle between ego and super ego over id’s pocket money or indeed whether a rip in the jeans was a tear in the fabric of cosmic rockology in the era of prog and pretension.
The Ramones just did. They just were.
But the brudders from Queens understood more than they are generally credited with. They understood that a show doesn’t need frippery to be good because the three Ps of pace, passion and a pout count for more than flash bombs and dancing girls. They understood that if you’ve got the songs, let ‘em rip and the audience will come with you.
The Datsuns, another quartet of “brothers”, understand these lessons too.
Although they share a similar skinny legs/no bums/tight denim look, musically they take little from the Ramones (this is more late ‘60s garage punk enveloped in the bear hug of ‘70s hard rock) and intellectually Christian Datsun’s songwriting skills are a little more complex. But it’s in the act now/think later philosophy that the Datsuns and the Ramones meet.
The Datsuns don’t do ballads: they’re either fast, faster or pretty rocking out. They strut and mince and jump about. They arch backs and fling guitar necks as wildly as they fling their long lank hair. They yelp and scream and strike a pose, invite us to clap hands and proffer call-and-response chants. They don’t put on a show; they are the show.
It’s not subtle then, even though on record, particularly this year’s second album, they have broadened and deepened their craft. But it’s not stupid either. Lady may have been delivered in very heavy manner but it still swung and bit - like a good woodchopper at the Easter Show. Harmonic Generator had sufficient groove that if Dolf de Datsun had hips they would have been called snaky; if he had an arse it would have been wiggling.
Then there was the silly but very inviting Hong Kong Fury, which came over like the perfect soundtrack for a flying fist fight as drawn by 1970’s Japanese animators, the Zeppelin-referencing I Got No Words, the stonking party favourite Motherfucker From Hell, and the freak-out overload of Freeze Sucker.
Fun? Yeah. Definitely.