Sid Vicious' Grand Farce

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Rolling Stone review of Sid Vicious' gig at Max's Kansas City on September 7th 1978. It was printed on November 2nd, 1978.

The opening act, Tracx, set the proper mood. "We need some cooperation from the audience," complained the singer of the apparent East Asian extraction as her 1966-vintage garage band got pelted with crumpled menus for their clumsy musicianship.

"Pearl harbour's over," shouted this guy in the audience.

"No tickee, no shirtee," shouted his friend.

Nothing like a good racial epithet to make you forget that Keith Moon was on the autopsy table and Legionnaires Disease had broken out a few blocks away. The abuse got so bad that Tracx performed its last song with the curtain shut - cruel scene, but ungodly funny. Reminded me why I still love the music on a good night: in a society rapidly decomposing in a self-carpentered coffin of sex and euphemism, rock & roll still has the capacity for truth.

So the audience was primed and rowdy when Sid Vicious hit the stage. Backed with Jerry Nolan and bassist Arthur Kane, both formerly of the New York Dolls, and guitarists Mick Jones from The Clash and Steve Dior of Nolan's new band The Idols, Vicious was resplendent in black leather and chains. His chest wasn't shredded with red scars, nor were his arms covered with bandages, as they were on the Sex Pistols' American tour.

The thirty-five minute set included such tunes as the Stooges 'Search and Destroy' and Frank Sinatra's 'My Way' (Sid's current single). No longer playing bass, as he had with the Pistols, Sid projected a slightly awe-struck air as he sang in the face of the frantically bouncing crowd, so that you wondered who was the audience and who was the performer. If Sid Vicious had not been Sid Vicious, the people would've given him the same treatment as Tracx. The difference was that Vicious has always insisted on his own talentlessness, presenting it as a challenge to anyone with a craving to be looked at onstage.

If anyone wanted moves, they could watch Jones, who combined some interesting running around with inordinary sincere sweating. Nolan, Kane and Dior also played with phenomenal energy.

For the perfect encore, Vicious sang the words to 'Take a Chance with Me' off a lyric sheet. The crowd cheered so long afterward that the security guards had to drag them out. It was a small glimpse of the grand farce that was the Pistols, reviving fond memories and making me wish I had memories of the Dolls to revive.


© Charles M. Young/Rolling Stone
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