“How’re we doin’ tonight out there on Delancey Street?” bellows David Johansen after the blazing three-prong salvo which opens New York Dolls’ dam-busting return to their original stomping ground in March 2011. He couldn’t help but be remembering how, when the group first appeared 40 years ago, Delancey was a rundown, dangerous clothes-shopping street, running off the bum-strewn Bowery. Now its Bowery Ballroom is one of New York’s main music venues, while the Dolls’ old loft around the corner is in the seven-figure bracket.
Their Lower East Side spawning ground might be turning into Mllionaire’s Row, but the Dolls’ fabled New York energy runs rampant as they joyfully charge through songs from their six albums, surviving members Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain bolstered by legendary Bowie guitarist Earl Slick, bassist Jason Hill and drummer Brian Delaney. Highlights include Talk To Me’s quintessential NY rooftop swagger, Johansen’s rich tones embracing Streetcake’s lascivious double entendres, the soulful Kids Like You and the barnstorming hits, Slick and Syl duelling on the uptown express.
Coming with a DVD of the set, this spirit-lifting document is testimony to the Dolls’ remarkable ongoing career path, where sparkling new songs can safely pimp-walk with the classics. Their old neighbourhood might be vanishing, but that rambunctuous New York spirit lives large in its Dolls.