Wayne Kramer - vocals, guitar; Unknown - backing musicians
Wayne Kramer is one of the most respected figures in rock 'n' roll, and that's saying a lot. Kramer was hugely responsible for helping to lay the foundations of punk through his band MC5, which he formed in 1965 with fellow guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith. MC5, as a pioneering brethren to the Stooges for driving the hard-edged Detroit rock movement, had enormous influence in the local community, in large part because of their role as house band for the legendary Grande Ballroom, and in much wider musical circles by their raw punk sound and leftwing radical politics (John Sinclair of White Panther fame managed the band starting in 1967). After the MC5 disbanded in 1972 (famed journalist Jon Landau took the helm as manager upon Sinclair's arrest for marijuana possession), Kramer went underground for a stint while dealing with some personal demons, and then reemerged in the mid-'90s with a well-received solo career.
This show was captured in 2004 at the Baked Potato in North Hollywood and features Kramer's solo material… no MC5 songs here, but it's no matter. Kramer sounds incendiary with his signature visceral delivery that reminds listeners today why Kramer was such a staple on rock's outermost edge. It's hard to believe that at the time of this show, Kramer was nearing 60-years-old, because he projects the growling vigor of a performer more than half his age.
The six songs demonstrated here at this show are selections from four of Kramer's solo albums, and the set jumpstarts with "Dead Movie Stars" from the Dangerous Madness record that was released in 1996 on Epitaph. That album is revisited a song later in the set with "God's Worst Nightmare." Kramer, of course, is overtly political through much of the show, particularly in the spoken word-type song, "Bomb Day in Paris" that was also captured on his1998 live album, Live Like A Motherfucker. The funky "Back When Dogs Could Talk" from 1997's Citizen Wayne closes out the recording in signature punk-funk style, which rolls to an end with some comical barking, and Kramer's laugh… essentially the only communication he has with the audience throughout this beautifully captured recording.
Wayne Kramer remains involved in music and politics today, and his legacy continues to resonate while his reputation gains wider and wider reach.