New York Dolls: Sylvain Sylvain in Brighton!


Sylvain Sylvain: Pic by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex / Media Works

Sylvain Sylvain: Pic by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

Sylvain Sylvain, is an American rock guitarist, and is probably best known for being a member of the New York Dolls. Make no mistake this enigmatic, charismatic and talented performer Sylvain knows exactly what he is doing. He and Alison Gordy gave us a truly remarkable and unforgettable night.

Sylvain Sylvain

Sylvain Sylvain, is an American rock guitarist, and is probably best known for being a member of the New York Dolls. In 1971, vocalist David Johansen formed the New York Dolls with guitarists Johnny Thunders and Rick Rivets, bassist Arthur Kane, and drummer Billy Murcia; Rivets was replaced by Sylvain Sylvain in 1972. The band was meant to be a temporary project for the members,  that had gone to New York City with different career pursuits. As Sylvain recalled, “We just said ‘Hey, maybe this will get us some chicks.’ That seemed like a good enough reason.”

The Set

Sylvain Sylvain: Pic by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex / Media Works

Sylvain Sylvain: Pic by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

Sylvain Sylvain is on a fairly extensive tour, he is primarily promoting his new book “There’s No Bones In Ice Cream”. He is joining this up with a set of songs and stories from the book and culminating in a Q&A session with the audience.

Teenage News was up first and followed by the magnificent Great Big Kiss – a perfect choice for opening up the “unplugged” set. This was going to be a Sylvain Sylvain evening with the addition of the fabulous Alison Gordy, she toured with Johnny Thunders,  on vocals, guitar and chat. I walked in and saw the audience at the bar, chatting and some had taken up prime position in The Pelirocco Hotel. What were we going to get from this legacy of the New York Dolls?

The opening salvo gave us a hint of what was to come and this was filled with an at times chaotic – or was it (?) – performance, for example the late addition of a fan or as Alison strapped on her guitar. Pills was up as was the 14th Street.  Sylvain seemed to be enjoying himself, a master of engaging with the audience tonight, and always adding a slice of tongue in cheek smuttiness when he could to the set. Alison at times reminding Sylvain this was a family show! Brilliant.

Alison Gordy: Pic by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex / Media Works

Alison Gordy: Pic by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

 

We were treated at times to impersonations of David Johansen and Johnny Thunders from Sylvain as we were taken into Frankenstein. Sylvain told us how Johnny Thunders was “recruited” – he was a good lookin fella and always seemed to be surrounded by the girls and how he got his name “Thunders” and how he took up playing bass guitar!  A fascinating recollection from an era and a band that still holds a huge fascination and level of attraction from fans all over the world. I am not going to give any huge spoilers here about the stories – you will have to go see this fabulous show to find out more.

Sylvain Sylvain: Pic by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex / Media Works

Sylvain Sylvain: Pic by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

Femme Fatale was next up, and Sylvain and Alison had the enthusiastic audience singing along to every word, some fabulous audience participation, and we were in fine voice tonight! Some more chat from the front with some focus on the birth of rock and roll and the chords that “created” the punk sound. We were led into some guitar examples and then C’Mon Everybody. The we were treated to, and I do mean treated, as Jet Boy was up, Trash and Personality Crisis.  We were given an insight of how Bo Diddley famously had the Dolls kicked out of one of his gigs for being “drug dealers”.

A Video

Just a small clip – Leaving New York.

We had talk about Malcolm Mclaren, SEX and Vivienne Westwood as Sylvain talked about the collaboration at the time for Red Patent Leather, the live album. This covered off clothes, ties and shoes! All the while the “Johnny Thunders” holster glittered under the lights. We had a couple of guitar changes at one point a stunning white Gretsch was plugged in.

Things came to a close with Sylvains Leaving New York – both he and Alison giving some glorious vocals to this. That was it! The 90 minutes or so had just flown by.

 Pic by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex / Media Works

Pic by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

Q&A’s

We had been dancing, singing, giving dog bark sound effects and more and to just top it all off some fabulous tunes thrown into the mix. Brilliant. The crowd were then invited to ask some questions and both answered them. The session was MC’d by Mick Robinson from Ivy Lane Promotions. Sylvain was asked “how he survived” by Jordan Mooney, who was in the crowd, we got a warm and honest response, and there had been some delightful chat between the two of them during the set, both fondly sharing memories with each other and us. Someone else asked “when did you realise the New York Dolls were taking off?” – “when we broke up” came the answer. So we had about 15 minutes Q&A and then invited to bring up anything and the guys would sign it! Sadly no music available to purchase, just the wonderful book available and a healthy line of people formed to get their copy signed by the man himself.

Sylvain Sylvain: Pic by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

Sylvain Sylvain: Pic by Ian Bourn for Scene Sussex

Make no mistake this enigmatic, charismatic and talented performer knows exactly what he is doing. He and Alison Gordy gave us a truly remarkable and unforgettable night. Thank you!

Sylvain Sylvain is on Facebook

This was an Ivy Lane event.

Got to say well done to The Pelirocco Hotel – the sound was crisp and clear – perfect! They are on the WWW

Huge thanks to IVY LANE for putting on this event – they are on Facebook

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