Concert Review: New York Dolls at the State Theatre

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(The show's latter portion was powerful enough that only once did I slip out into the lobby to check on the Magic/Lakers game, and thanks to the Dolls hitting the stage just after 9, I was able to catch the fourth quarter on my couch in front of the 57-inch.)


Frontman Johansen lorded over the festivities like an old queen, right hand holding the mic, left wrist limp. Reed thin, his shoulders are about as wide as a standard coat hanger. He wore narrow, low-rise jeans and a tight, leopard-print shirt with flouncy sleeves that looked like he bought it at Forever 21.


The guitarists were animated, but Johansen stood mostly upright and still, his shoulders pressed back, the occasional slow hip wiggle his only concession to overt showmanship. Yet he somehow remained a captivating presence. His cheeky pompousness, his I'm-above-it-all remove, had rock star resonance.


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And while his voice is little more than a low bark, he proved an effective singer — in tune and expressive.


Johansen blew kisses to the crowd as the guitarists bashed and wailed the drawn-out, bluesy Big Finish to "Personality Crisis."


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Photos by Tracy May


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David and Syl.

For nearly an hour last night, the New York Dolls played to type as an aging, reunited rock 'n' roll band living off their legacy: solid but not inspired, willing but a little fatigued. Then something kicked in. "Muddy Bones," from their new album Cause I Sez So, a song pulled from the early Stones playbook, seemed to energize David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain and the other, newer, Dolls. The shoulder-to-shoulder crowd on the floor of the State Theatre picked up on it.

For the show's remaining 40-or-so minutes, the New York Dolls conjured up their rambunctious early-'70s selves, sans the drag attire and the heroin and with far better chops. Extended versions of early tunes "Jet Boy," "Personality Crisis" and "Trash" — which alternated between the early punk version and the reggae take on Sez So — brought the set to a loud, satisfying crescendo.

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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