Show Review: X-Mas with X (An Evening With) and Ray Manzarek at Slim’s, 12/28/2010

by Jonathan Pirro on December 29, 2010

John Doe of X and Ray Manzarek of The Doors

John Doe of X and Ray Manzarek of The Doors

As 2010 comes to a glorious end, it’s once again that time of year for annual traditions. While the New Years’ Eve shows will be gigantic and exciting, and the late November / early December weeks are filled with last-minute surprise gigs, it’s good to have a few things that can always be counted on to keep up that holiday spirit. Of course, this is not to say that said traditions can’t be spiced up with a few new flavors added to the recipe, and the Los Angeles punk quartet known as X returned to Slim’s this year to prove it.

Billy Zoom, guitarist of X

Billy Zoom, guitarist of X

Following a lengthy introduction in the form of a projected, big-screen version of the band’s 1986 rockumentary X The Unheard Music, the stalwart rockers arrived onstage just before 10:00pm, and neither the violent rain nor the howling wind outside could deafen the shouts and cheers of the crowd that filled Slim’s to a sold-out capacity. Those who had braved the hellish weather to see their heroes were treated to two full sets from the band: a performance of their debut record, Los Angeles, from start to finish, and a 16-song set spanning across the band’s first four records.

Ray Manzarek

Ray Manzarek

Despite their career possessing three additional albums of studio material, the chosen pieces were culled from X’s releases that had been produced by former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who joined the band on electric keyboards as a surprise guest for the evening. It was harder to tell whether Manzarek or the members of X were in higher spirits; not ones to let the weather and post-holiday blues get them down, the four members tore through the set with all the gusto and bombast that they were shown to possess in the film that had opened the evening. As bassist John Doe had said during the band’s formation, X was offering “no bullshit”-music to their fans; barely any words were exchanged between the band themselves, much less with the crowd, with drummer Donald “DJ” Bonebrake’s countoff usually being the only communication shouted out between songs.

John Doe on bass

John Doe on bass

Only the physical appearance of the band would have provided evidence that they had been around for over three decades, and the raw energy that they exhibited onstage was mirrored perfectly by the wild crowd. Singer Exene Cervenka had walked onstage looking more than a bit tired, but the first notes of “’Your Phone’s Off the Hook, But You’re Not” saw her jumping, swinging and thrashing about, with any hints of exhaustion vanishing for the rest of the evening. Guitarist Billy Zoom was definitely the most solid performer, trading manic energy for minute precision and snarling solos, while Doe took up most of the stage with his own thunderstruck dancing and roaring bass notes.

Exene Cervenka

Exene Cervenka

The nearly-two-hour set was filled with very few surprises, which seemed to be just the thing that the gathered fans were looking forward to. After their Los Angeles set and twelve additional numbers, with occasional guest spots from Manzarek, the band departed the stage, minus Doe, who took up an acoustic guitar and was joined by Cervenka for a slow, soulful performance of “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts”. The remaining members of X rejoined the duo for three final songs, before shredding out the final notes of “Motel Room In My Bed” and exiting the stage with many a fond farewell.

John brings out the acoustic for the encore

John brings out the acoustic for the encore

This was the first time that I have seen X’s annual holiday Slim’s show, and if tonight was any indication, I will never miss it again for the forseeable future. This year has been filled with many magnificent full-album sets, but only X was able to deliver that and so much more, and plowed through their set with as much vigor and conviction as they had nearly 30 years ago. Manzarek was a special treat that added an even greater depth to the performance, and provided the empowering energy that he had exhibited as the producer for Los Angeles and the next three subsequent releases by the band. Their dynamic together proved to be fantastic, and this show was easily the best way to close out the holiday season.

X's first setlist: Los Angeles

X's first setlist: Los Angeles

X's second setlist

X's second setlist

All photos by Jonathan Pirro.

Jonathan Pirro

Off-kilter multimedia enthusiast.

More Posts - Twitter - Facebook

Read Also:

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gordon Elgart December 29, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Ray Manzarek was hardly a “surprise guest.” He was listed on the Slim’s website for weeks. Calling something pre-announced a surprise is a pet peeve of mine. Not enough for me to edit it out of your piece, but enough for me to comment on it.

Otherwise, awesome job as usual!

Reply

Greg DiMercurio December 30, 2010 at 10:38 am

fucking awesome shows…what a way to end the year with historic rock shows

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: