Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Left Comes Back With A Vengeance!

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Left thundered into their set with a faithful, blistering version of the Stooges'"TV Eye", and, without a doubt, you knew from the very first chords, the original Left had returned for the first time in over 20 years, and they were more than ready to reclaim their rock and roll throne! The power, the fury, the spit, it was all there. The crowd that converged on Throttles Bar in rural Clear Spring, MD got to see one hell of a show, as the Left furiously pounded their way through their hits showing no signs of mellowing, only a barely under control fire, sending flame and smoke everywhere!

Folks came from all around to see if it was true, and indeed the original lineup of Hagerstown's original punks was intact for the first time since 1985. Their furious hell-bent punk rock from the 80s was politically incorrect and flew in the face of the then popular straight-edge hardcore. Their reputation, thanks to two great records and a stellar CD comp, is now bigger than the band ever was, and the band was ready to deliver the goods. There's a tangible edge, an attitude if you will, that seperates the great bands from the very good ones, and the Left have more than that edge, and a bite as well. That rock and roll glory is present in many 60s garage bands who effortlessly laid down a killer track or two. And its the edge that causes records by the Sonics and Link Wray to still pin you to the wall decades after their recording. For about 2 hours the Left reveled in that glory and took the crowd along for the ride.

They effortlessly plowed through the Left songbook, sounding like they never, uh, left, their whole catalog burned into their brain. A couple more Stooges songs done with the abandon the Stooges no longer have, and a Voodoo Love Gods song or two rounded out their set, but the band's own anthems, their pure punk rock noise, sounded better than they ever had before! The band's signature song "Hell" was reworked a bit, into a slinky, snarly bit of bile that crashed and burned its way into your brain. "5AM" exploded as Jim Swope did inhuman things to his guitar, and Brian Sefsic destroyed his tambourine. And of course, "Fuck It" was driven home with a passion that showed the band really meant it.

Few worthwhile punk bands have stuck around, and the Left never really tried as they essentially broke up even before recording their second EP Last Train to Hagerstown. All the usual bullshit went down and its now water under the bridge. I, for one, was glad to be a part of it, and even gladder now that the Left are back. Reclaiming their spot at the top of the rock and roll heap is not an easy task these days, but when the Left rocked out in Throttles, I was again in rock and roll heaven for one night, possessed by rock and roll spirits, back from the grave and spitting fire. There's no denying that the Left have returned, and the world is just a little bit better now.


NOV. 22 The Velvet Lounge, Washington, DC


Jesus Loves the Left (Bona Fide, 2006)