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Concert Reviews:
MC50 kicks out the jams, again, in home town return
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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DETROIT -- A great groundswell of support from fans and critics has greeted MC50, the all-star permutation of the MC5 that Wayne Kramer launched last year.



But there's still no place like home for the hard-rocking heritage troupe.



After three triumphant Detroit shows last October -- celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Grande Ballroom recording of the landmark MC5 debut "Kick Out the Jams" -- the quintet rolled back into town Friday night, Aug. 30, at Saint Andrew's Hall for a one-off that was no mere sequel. Rather, the 80-minute, 16-song show was possibly more ferocious than its predecessors, replacing last year's sense of surprise and history with the more basic impact of a truly great band blowing into town to blow the roof off of wherever it played.



When the 10-minute trip-out of "Starship" was one of the night's mellower moments, after all, that says a lot.



With MC5 manager and mentor John Sinclair in attendance, it was also a bit of a celebration for the red-shirted Kramer, who went through treatments for saliva gland cancer earlier this year. While the effects were clear when he was in Michigan during June for events promoting his memoir "The Hard Stuff," on Friday night the guitarist appeared healthy and robust and filled with homecoming spirit, moving with the energy of a character in a video game and playing his you-know-what off with a series of fiery solos on his red, white and blue Fender Stratocaster -- both alone and, on songs such as "Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)" and "Looking at You," in a twin attack with Soundgarden's Kim Thayil.







As before, MC50 played the entirety of "Kick Out the Jams" (though not in sequence this time), continuing to make the work its own, particularly during a stretched-out version of the title track. "Come Together" was a riffy delight, while "Motor City is Burning" and "I Want You Right Now" dipped into the MC5's blues roots, the latter in an intense, metallic fashion. Frontman Marcus Durant of Zen Guerilla remained a near-perfect incarnate of the late Rob Tyner, while the rhythm section of bassist Billy Gould (Faith No More) and drummer Brendan Canty (Fugazi) laid down a bottom as tight as an envelope seal under Kramer and Thayil's sonic acrobatics.



MC50 sampled the MC5's other two albums as well, tearing through tracks such as "Tonight," "Baby Won't Ya," "Everything," a barely hinged "Call Me Animal" and "Sister Anne." Durant delivered the soulful "Baby Won't Ya" wailing on his knees, while Kramer called out "that nincompoop in Washington" before "Looking at You." "We have to get him out of the White House and into the Big House," declared Kramer, a former convict himself who now operates the Jail Guitar Doors music therapy initiative for prisoners. "I don't like anyone to go to jail, but that's where he belongs."



As the night pounded to an end Kramer's face shone with gratitude and genuine glee. And that was a reflection of an ebullient home town crowd that will likely be willing to, well, kick out the jams yet again whenever the troupe returns.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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