Last night Richard Lloyd, one of the founding members of probably one of my top ten favorite bands, Television, played at the Studio at Webster Hall. There wasn’t a feeling of awe in the air, as there is when you see your favorite band play in top form during the height of their career. Or of amazement either, like when you see a new band that you just now is going to make major waves. No, last night was a night for appreciation.
Richard Lloyd still has a punk rock sneer on his face. He still plays his guitar as if its an extension of his body– an inner monster that needs to be controlled. (When introducing the band he even said “And this is a Fender Stratocaster playing a Richard.”) But he’s also an adult, a grown man playing rock and roll, and he doesn’t pretend to be something he isn’t. There wasn’t any odd behavior, any attempts to seem younger and harsher than he is. This made me appreciate him more. He just played his heart out, without any pretense.
Lloyd made his way through various parts of his career, playing songs off his solo albums and, to the crowds supreme delight, several Television hits including “Elevation,” “Friction” and “See No Evil.” Unfortunately, Lloyd did not attempt to play the masterful and epic “Marquee Moon,” but that’s not because he wouldn’t have been able to do it justice but because the band last night was a three-piece. “Marquee Moon” could not be played with only one guitarist.
The enthusiasm of the crowd was infectious. There was no moshing or screaming– but you knew who the fans were who’d been there in the past. They were dancing, but it seemed like they were moving for themselves, inside their heads, trying to feel and remember what it was like to see Lloyd, and hear those songs, more than 25 years ago. One guy was filming the set- and he had a long gray ponytail all the way down his back. And was sporting Chucks, of course. (Interesting side note: John Varvatos, who took over the lease at Television’s main performance spot, CBGG, was a host of the show last night, as was Legs McNeil and Bob Gruen. I didn’t see them once and I didn’t hear any introductions or speeches either.)
Lloyd did tackle a repertoire not usually even considered, for anybody: the songs of Jimi Hendrix. And while Lloyd started the series of Hendrix songs by saying he had never caught up to his hero after 35 years of playing, he did perform the songs well. “Purple Haze,” “Spanish Castle Magic” and “Axis: Bold As Love” were played with ferociousness and love. And that’s all you could hope for in a cover.
It was a clean, polished and practiced set. His band, which featured Dan Tamberelli on bass and JP “Thunderbolt” Patterson on drums, was tight. There was no drunken behavior, no broken bottles, no drug use. It was a time for fans to see a long lost hero in the spotlight again. It was all very mature. And what’s wrong with that?