Danko Jones at The Ruby Lounge: Live Review
Words: Phil Weller & Anthony Firmin | Photos: Anthony Firmin
The doors have only just opened as we arrive at the venue, a shuffling line of band shirts and denim, plumes of warm breath in cold air floating upwards. We enter and head to the bar as people keep coming in their healthy numbers for what could be the last time at this venue for many of us. Same old story; flats or some other commercial bollocks prioritised, monetarily over live music. It killed Sound Control, and it pains me to see how quickly that iconic little venue was torn down - which was a guitar store beforehand, further adding to its lineage and roots in the Manchester music scene. In days it was mere rubble, diggers at work and on the spot where we now stand, waving a card at the barman and taking that thirst quenching first gulp, will soon resemble the same grim reality.
It's only fifteen minutes after doors have opened when the gritty, greasy Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell take to the stage, a band aptly described as "Black Sabbath fronted by Lemmy" by our photographer Anthony Firmin halfway through their set. Yet, despite the rapid turnaround there is a sizable, if silent, crowd to watch them rumble through the biker grooves of Do It Now. Louis Wiggett's semi-hollow bass does wonders in accentuating and elongating their sound; he adds the gurth while guitarist/vocalist Johnny Gorilla adds the dirt. New(ish) drummer Serra Petale channels her inner Bill Ward with her tub-thumping, intentionally clumsy sounding rolls across the toms, adding a thick, heady undercurrent to their 60s rock snuff. Across their set there's the wired and frenetic buzz of MC5, the fuzz of Blue Cheer and there's even, at one point when guitar and bass harmonise with a burly uniqueness, a dollop of T.Rex on Potato Boy. But a heavier, filthier unwashed T.Rex that cares less about glitter and more about who the local dealer is. They have a no bullshit approach to music and a great sense of humour on stage too. They honour the genre with authenticity and love, not ego or pomposity which so many 'retro' bands are guilty of.
We don’t have long to wait before the Danko Jones party starts and the man and his band plough headlong into their quick fire set with I Gotta Rock, Sugar Chocolate and The Twisting Knife all of which pave the way at a searing pace. Whilst the crowd were somewhat demur for the support, they are now fuelled up and boisterous, and First Date along with Lipstick City allow them to release that energy, the former having many here singing along.
Jones knows how to engage with the crowd and Manchester is a city with one of his favourite restaurants – Abdul’s – but is it now closed? Who knows, the crowd don’t seem to. He also wants to make a point that his amps only go up to 10, not 11, which is fair enough as it is loud – even at the back.
You Are My Woman and She’s Drugs are fantastic showing just how tight this band are, even on what is only the 2nd date of their European tour. The title track of the last album, Wild Cat, starts the final leg of this high energy set, swiftly followed by the infamous bass line from John Calabrese which signals the start of Lovercall.
It’s easy to be cynical about Danko Jones’ music but it is all about pure fun, I am loving every minute of it as are the band and the horde of fans gathered here. One song he plays for the encore sums it all up perfectly – Do You Wanna Rock. Although if he finds out that Abdul’s has closed down then there is Gonna To Be A Fight Tonight.