DKT/MC5Club Congress, Sunday, June 27
The speaker was ablaze, brothers and sisters!
This refers not to pyrotechnics, real or imagined, generated by DKT/MC5 (aka Davis, Kramer and Thompson/Motor City 5) but rather equipment trouble from the night before at Congress (a place where I used to work). In response, adjustments were made; gear was rented; and therefore, the sound was, uh, affected.
Comprising original members D, K and T--plus the sturdy rhythm guitar of Marshall Crenshaw along with Mudhoney's Mark Arm and a superfluous Evan Dando together channeling deceased vocalist Rob Tyner--the DKT/MC5 looks good on paper. After all, these songs haven't been performed by original members since guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith passed in 1994.
Kicking out 19 jams, comprising much of the MC5's original catalog (spanning three albums and about 25 songs), the DKT/MC5 was many things: tight, loud, faithful to the originals and energetic, as when Mark Arm stepped off the stage to howl at and pinch the nipples of the crowd; it's also clear they were pleased to be performing. However, you couldn't escape the hollow reek of nostalgia-tripping.
While there's nothing inherently wrong with hearkening back, I was frequently left wondering what this glorified rock and roll fantasy camp had to do with the original rebellious, restless and anarchic spirit of the MC5. It's a legitimate argument, however, that the rareness of the treat compensated for the mannered gentility of the performance.
The songs hit several MC5 high points. Arm took the stage four songs in for "Sister Anne," a sexually confused number from High Time, the album in which women took over for politics. The group then segued into "Call Me Animal," the highlight of which was Arm's kazoo playing.
"Kick Out the Jams" came 13 songs in, followed by "I Believe in My Soul," which was a touching tribute to the song's composer, Ray Charles. Audience participation was well-managed by Kramer for "Rocket Reducer # 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa)," just before they closed out with "The American Ruse," aptly inviting the crowd to "take a look around."
Good advice, DKT/MC5. Now take it.