The Head Cat:
Night of the Swinging Headbangers
First observation about the Headcat is the apparent and seem-less marriage of musical collaboration. The (just about everyone) proclaimed God-Father of Metal, one of rockabilly’s most influential and pioneering drummers, and one hell of a guitarist that comes from the well-heeled fringe of somewhere between both genres. Together come up with a winning combination which successfully covers influential rifts existing between great but polarizing music categories. The result? an at once enlightening and ass-kicking combination. One- two-three mints-in-one is what I say. Isn’t this what we’d expect from Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, Stray Cat Slim Jim Phantom and Lonesome Spurs’ Danny B Harvey? I could scarcely imagine the ticket in an otherwise setting. Dantes is ‘the’ venue to host fringe acts like this. Frank Failace does his research for shows like this, as well as other eccentric acts and showcases them properly.
HC continues to successfully tour in support of their 2006 release, “Fools Paradise”. They play songs from artists who influenced them growing up- Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, T-Bone Walker and the like.
The band’s overall delivery of the songs and how they played into Lemmy’s bone-crushing repertoire with MH in the 70’s, became ever apparent as the night wore on.
Even if Lemmy seems a little out of place when he is stripped down from the usual mayhem and unequivocal power of his ‘day job’, he none the less delivers a rugged charm to the set. He carries an authority to it- along with his ambition to come back and play the stuff that weened him into the monolith he’s became so long ago to so many head-bangers. If nothing else, hopefully, it entices some of them to sit back and listen to the Big Bopper. By the same token, some of those who may otherwise be spinning nothing but Hank Marvin and the Midnighters suddenly might find a new-found appreciation of say, Black Label Society, Ozzy and, oh yeah, Motorhead!
Not sure about anyone else, but attending this show was a definite eye-opener; You can safely mix scraggly Langlittz-clad hard-core biker “Motaheads” safely with cleaner cut dove-tailed Doc-Martin jacket-clad rock-a-billy crowd. And wait… Is there even a need to compare tattoos? I thought so.
Only reason to draw the difference is, well, there are major differences among crowd groups at any given genre specific show. But HC draws a vacillate array of goers – such is Portland, that’s why we love it. Willfully variant
Phantom holds a standing drum kit like no other, because, well, there is really no other that I know of. His individual contribution comes first and foremost because of his positioning. The juxtaposition attributed to his stance incorporates into his ecstatic delivery. Being at the side and peering at his compadres head level poses Jim as sideman instead of a separate “Back-line”entity. It also placed a drummer with-in arms reach to the audience for the first time.
Song renditions muscled arrogantly, yet were reverently entailed. Lemmy leered and sneered with his usual Nordic- Viking delivery, solid as ever along with knock-out bass lines. Slim Jim swayed back and forth towering over his sparse kit, sticks blazed a burnt orange as they reflected from the red stage lights. Danny swiped and clicked his heels toeing the stage with an intent grin- oddly similar yet opposed to Billy Zoom’s all-knowing and manic smile.
Harvey has an uncanny a talent for playing intense psychobilly versions of most any song, but specifically a penchant for classic numbers that can range surf, country rock-a-billy and mid 70’s country classics. Headcat made its way thru the set like a freight train blowing thru town.
Around the stroke of midnight, they played a couple individual hits for good measure. As Slim Jim sang “Rock This Town”, I couldn’t but help remember the first time I heard that song in 1982. It was at a dance club called the Metropolis, and by golly, I was standing in the same spot… how the wheel turns.
JUST BEFORE SHOWTIME:
“Is it awright to get a group shot of you guys? I dutifully said down in the Green Room. “Sure, but not until I get up” said Lemmy. So I took a chair opposite him for 15 long minutes while he toasted, smoked and visited with his friends at the table. Slim Jim and Danny would pass thru every couple of minutes, trying different things on. it was hard to tell what to think. Was he sizing me up thinking I’m o.k., or does he just want to shoot me? I became a bit self-conscious as he sat glaring at me with half- lidded gunslinger eyes.
The wait was well worth it as he grabbed my “Inaugural Edition” Lemmy action figure. Scribbling on it, he asked me my name as he sat fixed between 2 tasteful yet raunchily dressed kittens. I heard no nervous laughter from them as he snickered, “I told the manufacturer it ain’t gonna be much of an action figure unless its got a dick.” I dutifully laughed.
“10 minutes”, the roadie said. “5 minutes”. “One minute”, he again barked. Figuring it was’nt gonna happen, I sulked. The trio stood and started walking toward the stairs, turned then patiently gave me 3 carefully posed photos well after the “You’re on'” bark.
As Lemmy led his band up the stairs, he finally did shoot me…with a nice friendly smile. I heard the crowd roar as he growled, “OOOOHHHH YYEEAAAHH!”. I was left there in the basement, staring at the doll in amazement.
The Head Cat has also released a live DVD called, “Rockin’ The Cat Club: Live From Sunset Strip”. Captures all three friends plus former Guana bass player Johnny Bowler playing with reverbed excitement.
© 2011 Buko Magazine