Live review: The Dead Boys at O2 ABC

US punk band, The Dead Boys, put on an electrifying show at the O2 ABC as part of their 40th anniversary celebration of the album Young, Loud and Snotty on their first tour since 1979.

With the gig being held in the smaller live music room of the O2 ABC, the band were playing to an intimate crowd. The passion and enthusiasm could be felt amongst both the fans and the band. Glancing around, you could see the super-fans, those who have been with them from the start, with their leather jackets and impressive beards. The venue looked like a scene from Rock of Ages.

Bright lights beamed above the stage. The singers were within touching distance. You could almost see the anticipation through the crowd as the first support act came on.

With support bands Reaction, from Airdrie, and Glaswegian Ramones tribute band The Ramoaners, punk classics were in abundance. The energetic performance of ‘Faster’ by Reaction was incredibly well received. A cover of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ by black wig wearing, sunglass rocking Ramoaners made you feel as though Johnny, Dee Dee, Joey and Tommy had resurrected just to perform for the adoring Glasgow crowd.

Before The Dead Boys came on-stage the crowd dispersed into groups. It became apparent, as the night went on, that everyone knew each other. Fellow fans shook hands, fist-bumped and commented on the performance so far, predicting how the Dead Boys would be. The relaxed, comfortable and friendly atmosphere was much more enjoyable to be around compared to mainstream concerts. The high-pitched screams of crying fans, drinks being thrown, and aggressive nudging of nearby friend groups were not among the phenomenon experienced at this gig.

Whilst the guitars and drums were changed over, the small area in front of the stage began to fill up. People moved from the bar and couches to get as close as possible. Very few were not on their feet once the lights once again dipped.

The Dead Boys did not disappoint. You didn’t need to be an avid fan of punk to recognise this was an excellent gig. The enthusiasm of the band couldn’t be faulted. Despite being older performers this didn’t show in the slightest, you would never have known they were in their heyday in the 70s.

Crowd engagement felt almost personal. From commenting on the “female who dominated the mosh pit” to the tribute to Glasgow singer Alex Harvey, which was particularly poignant as the gig was held on the 36th anniversary of his death, it was obvious the band appreciated their loyal fans.

They led with “Sonic Reducer” before belting out many of their old hits. ‘What Love Is’, ‘Calling on You’ and “Ain’t it Fun” particularly stood out. Once they left the stage the predictable “one more song” chants began.

Another nice touch was the introduction of the band members – as only two of the original members still perform, Cheetah Chrome on lead guitar and drummer Johnny Blitz. Jake Hout is the current lead singer, as Stiv Bators died in 1990. Jason Kottwitz has taken over rhythm guitar from Jimmy Zero, and Ricky Rat is on the bass in replacement of Jeff Magnum.

The Dead Boys have come a long way – from starting out in Cleveland, Ohio making a name for themselves with their raw, edgy and energetic performances, to touring the US and UK to mark the 40th anniversary of the album they became renowned for.

Although this genre may not be to everyone’s taste, they’re definitely worth taking the time to see.

By Georgia Clyne