Photos by Adrian Thomson
I’ve been such a massive Ramones fan for many years. They were apart of the soundtrack of my teenage years. Having seen Marky Ramones Blitzkrieg a few years back and visiting the Ramones museum in Berlin last year, my Ramones fever has never left my soul. I couldn’t have been more excited to head to the Rosemount (again!) on Sunday to see CJ Ramone play. CJ replaced Dee Dee in The Ramones in 1989 and was a real breath of fresh air for the unit till their end in 1996. To see him come out was a blast.
The night began with Pop Punk Rockers The Decline. These guys were great but something just wasn’t right. I think perhaps this was a slight miscasting (believe it or not), as the room was almost silent at the end of each song. Even when the boys bantered with each other on stage it seemed like the crowd weren’t very interested, to the point where it actually felt awkward. I can’t put my finger on what it is, as the band themselves didn’t do anything wrong. Their set was solid and the music was fun but it was almost like the old guard in the building did not like their brand of Pop Punk. Joshua Barker on drums was a real machine and his blast beats were a thing of beauty, the band were tight…. But again, It was the strangest response to a support act I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if they noticed it or not as it didn’t seem to phase them, they kept doing what they were doing. Perhaps this slot would have been better suited to an old school Punk band rather than the poppy nature of The Decline’s sound. I don’t know. They’ve supported CJ before. Maybe it’s a Perth thing?
The time was here after an intermission CJ’s set started off with a few of CJ’s solo songs which are very much in the same vein as the Ramones style with his own twist to it. My highlight was ‘Stand Up’ – it’s a fun song built on a strong sense of positivity and it got everybody dancing. ‘One High One Low’ was also really, really cool. Later on he played another solo song ‘Rock On’ about a friend of his and former bandmate that passed away, and you could see deep down the pain that remains with him from that loss, and the passion he felt for the song shone through.
He said early on “I’m going to say to you what I told my 2nd wife, I’m going to give you everything I’ve got left”. It made me feel sad in a way. He’s still a young man in his 50’s but I guess he sees that things are winding down for him. It always makes me somber, knowing that I’m witnessing somebody’s journey in music start to reach its final destinations. He and the Ramones have clearly meant a lot to me.
The Ramones songs really dominated the set from here, unrelenting in their assault on the songs, I looked closely at CJs work on the bass. While people think Ramones’ music is simple, its actually incredibly intricate what CJ does on the bass.
This night was all about singalongs. I found myself closing my eyes at times as I enjoyed the bliss of it all. Many, many highlights to speak of here. ‘Pinhead’ got the room shaking, ‘Rock N Roll High School’. ‘The KKK Took My Baby Away’, ‘Commando’, ’53rd and 3rd’, ‘Judy Is a Punk’ and ‘Sheena is a Punk Rocker’ just blew the roof off. The great thing is you can pick almost any song from the Ramones catalogue of many catchy tuned and the crowd are going to love it. There’s no way you can go wrong!
CJ played ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’ and told the crowd that they had so many great love songs but Johnny wouldn’t let them play them. Because Joey wrote all those love songs about Johnnys wife. The crowd ate that one up.
I just loved this show. Things finished off with ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’ (HUGE reaction), a blitzing and furious ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ and finally a cover of Motorheads’ “R.A.M.O.N.E.S” to finish the night off. CJ said they don’t do encores because its stupid to walk off just to walk back on and we didn’t need an encore because they gave us everything we needed already and more.
CJ put his own spin on these tunes and didn’t try replicate the exact same sound of The Ramones like Marky does with his band, and it was fresh but still familiar and still authentic. CJ is a true Ramone, and this show will be one I’ll always remember fondly.