Set List Bonus: 10th Anniversary Johnny Ramone Tribute
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By Jamie Wayt
The 10th anniversary Johnny Ramone Tribute, held Aug. 24 in the morbidly fantastic Hollywood Forever Cemetery, marked my second time attending this event. This year's installment was hosted by GRAMMY nominee Rob Zombie and featured an all-star tribute concert in honor of the Ramones and a screening of Zombie's 2005 horror film The Devil's Rejects.
The cemetery looked like a scene from Night Of The Living Dead as Ramones and Zombie fans descended upon the graveyard as the sun set. There was plenty to do before the real activities began, from posing with intricately decorated memorial sites for Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone and taking a walk through a mausoleum decorated with Metallica guitarist Kirk "Von" Hammett's monster movie memorabilia collection, to dining and drinking at cleverly named food trucks such as Trailer Park Truck, buying merchandise designed by Zombie with iconic Ramones emblems and picnicking on the grass among the tombstones.
While a question-and-answer session about the event took place on the lawn, I queued up at the Masonic Lodge. I had been dying to see a show at this strange venue. Once inside I walked past an awesome Harold And Maude movie poster and was aghast at how intimate the venue was. For fans who didn't have a ticket , the concert was simulcast on the mausoleum movie screen outside for the masses. Following an introduction from writer/actress Traci Lords, the all-star cast entered the stage through the crowd to perform those iconic speedy punk songs.
Zombie and his band — John 5, Piggy D. and Ginger Fish — plowed through a five-song set of Ramones classics. Delivered with the vigor of a high school band, the usually inanimate Fish had a smile on his face that said he was happy to perform the songs from which he likely learned to drum. It was bizarre to see Zombie & Co. play songs that weren't theirs in a venue this small — I cut my teeth on White Zombie as a teenage metalhead — but I enjoyed every second of it.
Up next, Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) and Duff McKagan (Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver) emerged to form a trio with Fish. McKagan and Jones represented a different era of musicianship and imparted on the crowd their version of Ramones' songs with their own vim and vigor. Their set possessed the "anything-can-happen" ferocity that punk represents, and the musicians often communicated between and during performances, giving their songs a wilder, spontaneous vibe. When McKagan's daughter Grace joined to sing "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker," I caught him beaming proudly at her. To me, this represented the way Ramones' songs have been handed down from one generation to another. Young singer/songwriter Jesse Jo Stark then joined for "Rockaway Beach."
"Saturday Night Live" and "Portlandia" personality Fred Armisen brought his alter-ego Ian Rubbish to play with the trio. The actor held his own among the well-seasoned musicians as he led them through two mellower Ramones tracks.
Surprise guest Billy Idol hopped onstage to an adoring crowd to close the show with "I Wanna Be Sedated" and "California Sun." Even though Idol had to read some of the lyrics while he performed, it was a rocking end to a one-of-a-kind show.
After the concert, The Devil's Rejects lit up the cemetery on the cement mausoleum wall as the crowd settled in to spend the rest of the night celebrating the memory of the band who earlier this summer lost their last original member, Tommy Ramone.
"Rock 'N' Roll High School"
"Beat On The Brat"
"R.A.M.O.N.E.S" (Motörhead cover)
Steve Jones, Duff McKagan, Ginger Fish
"Judy Is A Punk"
"Silly Thing" (Sex Pistols cover)
"Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" (with Grace McKagan)
"Rockaway Beach" (with Jesse Jo Stark)
Fred Armisen, Duff McKagan, Steve Jones, Ginger Fish
"I Can't Make It On Time"
Billy Idol, Duff McKagan, Steve Jones, Ginger Fish
"I Wanna Be Sedated"
(Jamie Wayt lives in Los Angeles and is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She has attended and written about more than 700 shows since 2007. You can follow her musical adventures at www.hardrockchick.com.)