London WC2 Astoria
A tacky cut-out Cramps logo hangs against a shimmering silver backdrop. Lux Interior, camp punk hero, crouches beneath it, teetering atop a stack of gear: he’s naked from the waist up, slick with red wine, trussed up in his mic lead, and hollering savagely. His dick dangles freely from sliced-up black lurex leggings, as Poison Ivy wrings reverberating twangs from her fat semi-acoustic with ineffable cool.
This is The Cramps, two decades out of the swamp: half fading cartoon, half genuine threat to civilisation. No change there, then. Lux’s heels are perhaps not as high as they once were; their ‘gravest’ hits are in fact 20-year-old covers of songs (like ‘Surfin’ Bird’, or ‘Garbage Man’) written nearly 20 years before that. It sounds, too, like they’re using the same tinny gear as they did a lifetime ago at CBGB’s, cranked up tonight to a frustrating mangle. But when Harry Drumdini – the latest bum on The Cramps’ revolving drum stool – pummels his kit with huge furry Flintstones drumsticks in ‘I Was A Teenage Werewolf’, all sober assessments of The Cramps’ right to rock as they near 50 go the way of Lux’s modesty.
He slaps his bum just like Brett used to; he humps monitors, he fellates Ivy’s spike heels and shows us his arse, and all without any sense of tragedy. If there’s little in the way of musical variety on offer, songs like ‘Psychotic Reaction’, ‘Can Your Pussy Do The Dog’ and an encore of ‘Human Fly’ are still some of the most luridly, filthily fundamental rock’n’roll ever committed to amplification. Poison Ivy, for her part, doubles as trashy dominatrix and guitar player of considerable substance, while Slim Chance – current occupier of the bass – feeds back primal howls from his set-up. Carry on Cramping, indeed.