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'Punk Goes Acoustic' Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols) & Sylvain Sylvain (New York Dolls):Sex Doll Tour.
'Punk Goes Acoustic' Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols) & Sylvain Sylvain (New York Dolls):Sex Doll Tour.

‘Punk Goes Acoustic’ Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols) & Sylvain Sylvain (New York Dolls): Sex Doll Tour. A Review – Virago Magazine

‘Punk Goes Acoustic’ Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols) & Sylvain Sylvain (New York Dolls):Sex Doll Tour. & Very Special Guest Jay Allen!

Boston’s punk vanguard was in attendance at the sold out Sex Dolls show at the Midway cafe in Jamaica Plain.

I felt completely out of my element in a black velvet suit having just attended a Chinese New Year’s banquet, and was fortunate to find a seat at the end of the bar. The doors opened at 8 PM and having arriving well after nine I was fearful it would be half over, like at the Royal when PIL started at 9 PM. After all, this show was billed as “Punk Goes Acoustic,” so in my mind that meant punk for oldsters, people who needed to be in bed by ten. I assumed the worst, but fortune shined on me as I hadn’t even missed special guest Jay Allen.

Jay Allen at Midway Cafe
Jay Allen at Midway Cafe

Allen I recognized as a guest at past soirée’s attended. He is the frontman for Jay Allen and the Archcriminals and a local legendary scenester. Well adept as a song writer and solo performer and with his own entourage in attendance, he gave a wonderful performance, feeling cheeky enough to play a new song that he’d only rehearsed a few times. He joked that he was channeling his inner Irishman given that he’s a Jew from Jersey. Quite appropriate and nicely done since we all should be gearing up for Saint Paddy’s.

New York Dolls Guitarist Sylvain Sylvain

The anticipation was high as people started crowding towards the stage. First up of our darling dolls was New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain. Starting out the set with Teenage News and changing the lyric to “Boston Town” he delighting the crowd, no end. He said it was “totally tits” to be back in Boston. Dressed in his signature cap, this one bedazzled black velvet,leatherette jacket, peg leg black jeans and black suede winklepickers, he was ever the consummate rock star, seated gentility drinking white wine from a proper glass pinky extended on occasion. He quipped between songs, sipping white wine, “You know, I’m always in drag.”

Sylvain Sylvain at Midway Cafe
Sylvain Sylvain at Midway Cafe

He started in earnest with 14th Street Beat and said that was Johnny Thunders favorite line – “I got beat on 14th Street.” He played a riff explaining it was Bo Diddley, but in 1972, everybody thought it was the Dolls. He told a story of how the Dolls got kicked out of clubs for selling blues, even though they weren’t and straight away broke into a rocking sing-a-long of Pills.

Sipping wine and clinking glasses with the audience he noted his favorite band growing up was The Velvet Underground and proceeded to kill on a version of Femme Fatale.

Origin Story: How The New York Dolls Got Their Name

The highlight of the set was when he told the origin story of how the New York Dolls got their name. I hope I get this right, as I remember it, the story goes along the lines of the year was 1968 and Sylvain Sylvain was working at a clothing store on Lex and 64th. Across the street from the colthier was the New York Doll Hospital. And by the way, confidentially, he sold pants to Janis Joplin personally, and said of Janis that she was a big girl.

The New York Dolls
The New York Dolls

Anyway, he and Johnny Thunders were walking towards the subway after work, and Syl mentioned the Doll Hospital across the street. He thought it would be a good name for a band. Thunders asked, “Really? New York Doll Hospital?” And Syl replied, “No, Stupid. New York Dolls.”

He later quipped fanning himself “I won’t need blues tonight!” Ripping into a cover of Thunder’s own Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory. Sing-a-longs abounding, Syl demonstrated another guitar progression by Eddy Cochran, one of his favorite riffs he said, since it was so versatile, looking darling in his red reading glasses. He showed how the riff could be Shena Is A Punk Rocker or God Save The Queen. Then played Leaving New York and Trash as he left the stage like a troubadour singing through the audience.

The audience continued singing and cheering as his last notes echoed from the stairs down to the green room. Barkeep Lenny Lashley was kind enough to keep me in Diet Cokes during the set after my single PBR, not being hip to the Yuengling beer now available at the Midway. But this old girl abandoned her nice setup to venture closer to the stage, also abandoning the copious note taking.

Sex Pistols Bassist Glen Matlock

Glen Matlock took the stage and was just as charming as Syl sporting a black leather over a Ron Wood tee and dark jeans with only a touch of grey in those blond locks. He sang a couple of songs and talked about how he was a song writer, but he loved rhythm. In that vein, he asked the audience to act as the rhythm section as he graceful wove new material in with old, but a cutie-pie yelled “Play something we know!”

Glen Matlock at Midway Cafe
Glen Matlock at Midway Cafe

Matlock acquiesced teaching us the rhythm pattern for the Sex Pistols’s God Save The Queen. We sang and clapped, but he commented “You can’t even clap and sing at the same time. Yeah, right. Sing along.” Then did covers like Montigue Terrace (In Blue) by Scott Walker, saying it was one of his favorite songs and kind of quiet.

But for most of the set he asked that the sound man turn it up and talked about playing a gig with Johnathan Richman in San Francisco – Richman would want it so low you could hear a pin drop, but not him – he says turn it up. That Cutie-pie then demanded high fives for which he obliged sending feedback through the monitors.

Covers of the Monkees Steppin’ Stone, and Iggy Pop’s Ambition had sing-a-longs turn into minor dancing from some of the younger set such as Cutie-pie. Matlock did Rich Kids’s Burning Sounds and Ghost of Princes commenting “there’s that word again” meaning “ambition.” He also noted that Ghost of Princes, he felt was one of his better tunes. No doubt it’s a great one.

He told us he was on the wagon, but wondered if we were practicing for “Patrick’s night.” To which he was told it was next week. Matlock performed Story of Your Life from his 1996 album Who Does He Think He Is When He’s at Home? which came out on Creation Records. Not sure, but he must have made it right before touring with Ron Wood.

He told us about how he got to play with Ron Wood and had to pinch himself since he idolized The Small Faces growing up. On tour to pass the time Ron designed T-shirts. The day that he had the balls to ask and was refused he later found out why. Ron was finalizing his divorce. But that was years ago, and he has one now, and it was even clean, as he showed off his fetching tee before playing the Small Faces cover All or Nothing.

For the finale he asked the audience to stomp on the floor to let Sylvain Sylvain know it was time for him to come back. As we waited he told us that in the green room he’d been watching a documentary on Pete Seeger and how he felt he was tapping into the collective unconscious since he and Pete both encouraged singing along. Sylvain Sylvain and Glen Matlock finished up fabulously with Pretty Vacant, Personality Crisis and T Rex’s Get It On. One great big happy sing-a-long.

The Great Merch Debate

Glen Matlock graciously signed the new edition of I Was A Teenaged Sex Pistol for me which includes a new bit about the 1996 Sex Pistols Reunion tour, and tells the origin story from Matlock’s perspective. Sadly, I didn’t have enough cash for Sylvain Sylvain’s new record, too.

Catch these punk legends on tour and support the cause

Merch available for purchase at the shows!
Sylvain Sylvain’s new album and Glen Matlock’s latest album Born Running and the new edition of I Was A Teenaged Sex Pistol updated and reprinted following the reformed Sex Pistols ‘Filthy Lucre’ tour in 1996.

Sex Dolls On Tour
Sex Dolls On Tour

Mar 2 – Binghamton, NY – Cyber West Café
Mar 3 – New York City, NY – Cutting Room
Mar 4 – Asbury Park, NJ – Asbury Lanes
Mar 5 – New Haven, CT – Café Nine
Mar 7 – Boston, MA – Midway Café
Mar 8 – Manchester, NH – Shaskeen
Mar 11 – Montreal, QC – L’Esco
Mar 12 – Ottawa, ON – Zaphod’s
Mar 14 – Toronto, ON – Rockpile
Mar 15 – Hamilton, ON – This Aint Hollywood
Mar 16 – Detroit, MI – Magic Bag
Mar 18 – Cleveland, OH – Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
Mar 19 – Lansing, MI – The Loft
Mar 20 – Chicago, IL – City Winery
Mar 21 – Kalamazoo, MI – Bell’s Distillery
Mar 22 – Columbus, OH – Bernie’s Distillery
Mar 27 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie
Mar 28 – Atlantic City, NJ – Boneyard
Mar 29 – Mohawk, NJ – Live At Drew’s

About Jessica Fisher-Willson

Jes (Arts & Independent Music Editor) is a nerd girl who needs constant validation. To this end she invented White Light Tarot TM, a reiki-tarot deck that validates one's concerns and helps balance one's energy. It is available as an online app, a download for free, or as a book and tarot deck available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, and White Light Tarot's website, as well as finer independent New Age purveyors. Mostly she is writing fiction as fast as she can and learning to be socially media-phoric. http://jessicafisherwillson.com/

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