Sunday, August 2, 2015

X at City Winery

Bassist John Doe and guitarist Billy Zoom met through the musicians' classified page in a music newspaper in Los Angeles, California. Doe began bringing his poet girlfriend, Exene Cervenka, to their rehearsals and she began to share vocal duties with Doe. After trying out several drummers, they finally settled on DJ Bonebrake. The seminal line-up for the punk band X was completed in 1977. X released seven studio albums from 1980 to 1993 and, after a period of inactivity during the mid to late 1990s, X reunited in the early 2000s. X's most recent album of new songs is 1993's Hey Zeus!

On X's 2014 tour, the band concentrated on one album for each of four nights at City Winery; this time around they shuffled the set list and played the same songs in a revised order. This time, however, Zoom suddenly withdrew from the tour in order to seek immediate medical treatment for bladder cancer; the shows were partially a benefit for Zoom, with City Winery selling autographed bottles of “Billy Zoom” wine to support his medical bills. With little time for debriefing, Texas-based guitarist Jesse Dayton (Waylon Jennings, Supersuckers) sat in for Zoom, learning 28 songs in eight days. At City Winery tonight, the opening act, Dead Rock West, closed its set with a cover of the Staple Singers' "This May Be the Last Time" and were joined on stage by X members singing harmony. After intermission, X rocked 22 songs from the band's early 1980s catalogue plus an older song, 1978’s "Adult Books." Most of the set was high-speed punk rock; there was very little from the band's more subtle folk and country side. Doe and Cervenka's off-kilter harmonizing was riveting, Dayton added a punky twang and Bonebrake's propulsive percussion drove the songs home. X injected punk sensibilities into two cover songs, the Otis Blackwell–composed "Breathless" and the Doors' "Soul Kitchen." All the public needs is some new material, please.

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