The Sonics – Paradiso Amsterdam 30/03/10

For a bunch of old fellas, The Sonics look pretty good.

Ah the Sonics, loud, urgent Ur-Punk legends and let’s face it, not in their first youth. Not only that, the main hall at the Paradiso was surely bound to be full of the worst kind of preening scenesters… Dark thoughts such as these ruled the roost on my journey to the venue…

Once inside Incendiary barely had time to grab a beer before the opening act (a Dutch cover band whose name unfortunately escapes me) ran through a medley of sixties and fifties TV show theme tunes. All well and good, and it worked as a nice warm up in a jolly sort of way. But you can see these sort of high-class tribute acts on public days off, like Queen’s Day for free. There are loads of them. And I’m sorry I really can’t see the point of paying to listen to the James Bond theme.

By the time said covers band had finished the main hall was bursting, and I mean bursting. Luckily it was NOT full of the doe-eyed, slack-jawed idiots who I thought would populate the gig but full of, well… not to put too fine a point on it, hard Perry skins and rockabilly lads and lasses, dolled to the nines in their respective tribal threads. None of them seemed in their first youth but they all wore it well. Best of all, there was not a mobile in sight. The strangeness of this absence only struck me during Psycho when a bloke in front of me pulled out his mobile and started to film. And then hurriedly put it away when he got stared at. The only other appendage to be seen used in anger were the half full plastic beer glasses, which were thrown liberally around the hall during some of the gig’s more frantic moments.

It reminded Incendiary of just how nice it is to see a band being watched by its audience. It also reminded Incendiary of the old times, when electronic gadgetry stayed exclusively on the stage.

Okay let’s put all sociological ranting aside and get onto the gig. For a bunch of old fellas, The Sonics look pretty good. Three original members, including the all important Gerry Roslie (he of the thunderous voice) and two lads culled from other bands from the period. Off we charged into a show that was loud, loud, loud. So loud that somehow the guitarist blew something in his amp up three songs in, ho hum.


Immediately noticeable was the complete lack of frills that the band brought to their set, in some ways it was comforting that they kept arrangements to a minimum (apart from a guitar solo in the classic Strychnine, which threatened to de-rail it). The Sonics have a number of absolutely killer tunes, especially Psycho, which is the patent Iggy’s been trying to re-invent since 1969. And the set was arranged round these pretty well; if Have Love Will Travel was the tasty aperitif, then Strychnine was the satisfying main course and Psycho the brandy that made your eyes pop. Throw in a couple of killer covers and the whole evening was elevated above the pretty damned good to being almost great.


Indeed absolutely scorching versions Lucille, Louie Louie and Long Tall Sally were probably the highlights of the gig outside of the mental Psycho. The crowd loved it and things got a bit mental down the front. Especially when the go-go dancers, (sixties style) turned up to gyrate through The Witch. Before you knew it the night was over; in "Dutch time" it had hardly begun, we were out of the Paradiso by 10.20 or so. Still, why hang around when the point’s been made?