Christmas with the Waldos

One more story about my recent weekend visit to New York City: Stopping in to see the Christmas tour of Jesse Malin with Marah and others. I had vaguely marked down their visit in Northhampton to catch this year. Jack never misses it down in Philly and I was determined to take it in somewhere this year.

Well, here it was at Bowery Ballroom in a show that, because it was New York, had a lot of enhancements as well. Sarah Jessica Parker was host, for one thing. But, I was just as tickled by her sidekick, the former MTV VJ Matt Pinfield, onetime host of “120 Minutes,” does anyone recall?

During Marah’s splendidly shambling set, none other than Steve Earle strolled in to sing a couple of songs, one of which was his solid holiday offering, “Nothing But a Child.”

And Malin’s set was well meaning and rocking, though I have to say nothing in it touched the one cover he did of the Replacements.

The great part of the show, I thought, was what was playing when we walked in: A band we later learned was called the Waldos, made up of downtown rocker great Walter Lure, one of the surviving members of Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers who wrote half the songs.

Performing with a young band steeped in the big thick New York rock sound of the late 70s, it was bracing to hear the barrage of classics from the era, songs so simple and beautiful everyone there was singing along even if they had never heard the songs before.

But who hadn’t heard them before? In the Lower East Side, these songs were there before Johnny Thunders got to them and still lingered along the Bowery despite whatever gentrifying they are determined to do.

“Born to Lose!” we all shouted.

And how about that collaboration with Dee Dee Ramone that also appeared on a Ramones album, “Chinese Rock.” The only drawback to the bracing performance was the appearance of some women older than I was on stage in punk T shirts and insisting to dance and act out the songs (usually by demonstrating the action of stabbing a needle in your arm). For a flash I thought one grandma was Anita Pallenberg, but she’s out living in London according to Keith Richards’ book.

But it wasn’t weird that she was there, any more weird than it was I was there with people my age. The fans of original punk had grown up, or maybe that’s the wrong term. Gotten older. With music like this there’s no growing completely up.

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