New York Irving Plaza

Less blues explosion than funk reaction, if you please.

Bill Hicks’ famous measure of The Beatles’ drug intake was that they were so high they let Ringo do a couple of tunes. Even leaving Phil Collins out of the story, the singing drummer has enjoyed a decidedly mixed press. What’s Russell Simins going to do about it? Well, the man who’s thumped Jon Spencer’s tubs to such vehement good effect over the years has filled a stage with guitarists, backing singers and percussionists displaying varying degrees of dementia. The audience is full of his mates. And he’s decided not to play drums.

Not all the time, anyway. Which for a group that seems to consist mainly of people hitting things seems sensible. For as things stand, the Russell Simins live experience isn’t the most tightly drilled affair, so when our man does retire behind the kit we’re confronted with a beat jam that fatally over-eggs on the latter in pursuit of the former. But, when out front, shaking his mane in time to the fusion of disco high-drama and trad NY scuzz rock guttersniping of ‘Public Places’, suddenly the proposal makes sense in a shouldn’t-work-but-it-does Lou Reed sings Kool & The Gang kinda way. Less blues explosion than funk reaction, if you please.

Keith Cameron