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Dictators Middle East Down

Review and photos by John Keegan
September 5, 2014

There are bad shows, decent shows, good shows, excellent shows and shows that are both excellent and a crazy ass blast. The Dictators show was excellent and a crazy ass blast. The thing that differentiates shows in the last category is the hot wire connection between the audience and the band. You can't predict its appearance. Venue, day of the week and ticket cost are irrelevant. You might luck into one a handful of times each year. If you're lucky. Add the Dictators to that list.

    The wire was spitting sparks from the walk on. Fingers danced and wriggled inches from the strings of guitarist Ross Friedman as he tore through garage punk solo after solo. His accomplice, Daniel Rey, on marginally cleaner toned second guitar, gave no ground when he had the spotlight. And, when they came together for a bit of dueling guitarissimo, they ripped the sound out those wired babies until the crew of lit up miscreants down front were lathered up and begging for the release.

    The Dictators defy the laws of physics. They put up the proof that tight and loose are not antithetical but part and parcel. They are tight and loose within that constraint. Manitoba asks us who is going to save rock and roll. This audience isn't brand new. They are fully aware that there is little that is totally new under the big black sun. But, neither are they cynical about the power of rock to renew - at least not tonight. The band gives it a go with a tear through Who Will Save Rock and Roll? Later, Manitoba rhetorically asks the audience why he does what he does at the well-seasoned age of 60. He answers his own question; because he's not supposed to, because who wouldn't tour the world with a killer band like this, and because who wouldn't want to play for the rabid crowd in front of him.

    And what a crowd it was. I missed everything prior to the Dictators except Richie Parson's new band's last song. Superb power pop with a great back up harmony. Note to self: ignore work obligations. Everyone must have done their job because the crowd was primed. Up front it was cheek to jowl, hip to hip and occasionally elbow to rib. Everyone followed adult mosh etiquette for the most part. Jostle don't crash. No running starts. Keep your elbows below your shoulders. Think amoeba not particle collider. This was occasionally punctuated by tall ecstatic pogo people. The shout-alongs were robust and the two hundred or so people barking out background la la's and ooh ooh's were testifying.

    They let us know that The Party Starts Now. They’re still waiting to become The Next Big Thing. Baby Let’s Twist makes clear who is in charge of the Middle East. These guys get Faster and Louder and no one complains. They get all tender and ask won’t you Stay with Me. They whack out a Savage Beat and then Kick Out the Jams.
   Yep, crazy ass blast.

The Dictators

Ross THE BOSS Friedman

Ross Friedman

Dick Manitoba

Ross Friedman

Kenny Kaiser on left.


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