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Friday, 26 March 2010

NIKKI SUDDEN - The Last Bandits Last Gig.


Four years have passed since that fatal morning of March 26th when in New York, hours after playing a gig Nikki Sudden was found dead in his room. His music has been a constant, through the ups’n’downs of my life his music and words have always been there to escape and get lost in. From the ramshackled DIY punk of the Swell Maps and the lovelorn laments of The Jacobites, to his Rolling Stonesy solo stuff. He could hit a typewriter with a quilt and I’d still love it. So I was quite excited to find a recording of his final gig.
I liberated/lifted/leached it from The Lemonheads forum. No permission was asked, I make no apologies for this, as I wouldn’t have been prepared to take no for an answer with this one, not when some of you guy’s’gals are into yer Nikki Sudden, and may not have heard it, this poignant show needs to be out there and not just left to rest where only Lemonheads ‘fans’ are gonna get a chance to hear it.
I’ve listened to it many times since I procured it. At first with sadness, because in one sense it’s not his finest, in another it is; as at sums up the total Rock’n’Roll attitude and abandon. This is Punk!
The last shows Nikki, the travelling troubadour played in New York City, were either him with just his Guitar or with Drummer Danny Hole. For the gig at The Knitting Factory Tap Bar on March 25th 2006, as well as Danny he invited along Bass player Alan Merrill, who’d previously played in 70’s PopRocksters The Arrows, a band Nikki loved. For some numbers he was joined by a rock star fan; Evan Dando from The Lemonheads, a pop-grunge outfit who’d had their 15 minutes in the 90’s, when Evan would often be photographed in a Swell Maps T-Shirt. Alan Merrill had never played with Nikki before, and had previously shunned live appearances. Evan on the other hand was no stranger to jumping up with geniuses from across the pond, having played with Dan Treacy’s Television Personalities at a gig in Berlin, doing a few Johnny Thunders numbers. I digress. Back to Nikki’s gig, which isn’t a perfect performance, but it’s pure, real and unpredictable. Flawed and frail in places but a compelling and consuming listen. Whether Nikki was high and lonesome we’ll never know, but he was dead and gone at the break of dawn. A sad, sad loss. You can put your arms around a memory! here and here. (I’ve split it in two; The first part before Evan joins him, and the second after.) Gone but never to be forgotten. NIKKI SUDDEN 1956 - 2006.

Here are a few eye witness accounts of the gig that I found on t’internet:

“At 11 PM we took the stage and launched in to "Treasure Island," and it seemed to be working, in a loose, sloppy sort of way. Drummer Danny Hole was great, keeping the solid back beat. I was watching his hands, finding his style so I could get the right bounce on bass, and we locked in as the rhythm section fairly quickly. The songs ran by, one after another, and I was lost in total concentration, doing my best to get the songs right. About halfway through, Evan Dando of The Lemonheads got up on stage with us. I had never heard of him before, but it seems he was a media star with a record deal at some point or other. He has a decent voice and got through a few numbers with us. Then we finished the show, and it had gone quite well, in spite of my initial fear of playing totally unrehearsed music.” - Alan Merrill
“According to reports, he fittingly spent the final hours of his life playing a free, ramshackle, loose show, covering T. Rex and the Velvet Underground, climbing a stage to live his rock star dreams and channelling his heroes, and asking nothing from his audience in return.” - Skunkeye blog
"And I guess this is as good a place as any for me to offer a review of Saturday night's show at the Knitting Factory tap bar. The band, Nikki, Danny Hole (the Warlocks) and Alan Merrill (the Arrows, the man who wrote I Love Rock-n-Roll?) started out a bit shambolic and raw, and it was quickly pointed out that the bass player hadn't even rehearsed with them. Considering that, his/their improvisational abilities were pretty impressive and when they got it together it was quite rousing. They played some old songs, some newer songs and some covers to a small but dedicated and appreciative crowd, myself included. Then halfway through a cover of T Rex's Bang a Gong, Evan Dando of the Lemonheads came on stage and tried to get his guitar to work. It didn't. Only at the end did they get it sorted out, just in time for Bang a Gong to turn into Sister Ray. At this point, I realized I was watching something very special! The rest of the show went along like that. Things would fall apart, they'd pick up, they'd rock out, Nikki would sing some heartfelt tunes, then delve into a classic Swell Maps number, which would somehow morph into Sympathy for the Devil. They also covered The Stone's Dead Flowers.” - Anon

9 comments:

nekrodad said...

wow wee- i love you man, just wen i needed to hear some Nikki. I may have this as i know i have a few of his last gigs. but its not on my pc, it may be in a usb stick it may even be another night. but im grabbing this just in case, it's better too have 2 than none.

Longy said...

Reading that write up almost brought a tear or two to my eyes. Great stuff Nuzz and many thanks for the liberation. You done right.

R.I.P. Nikki

Anonymous said...

R.I.P Nikki-we're still thinking of you.
groovy
x

dd said...

thanks so much for this one Nuzz...really looking forward to listening to it. Stay Bruised... DD

Chris Ripple said...

A sad post...
A sad post in so many ways.
'Twas the NPW who got me (finally) into Nikki Sudden nearly 20 years ago and finally I saw the light,
and then there's the sadness of Nikki's passing, but more than that, there's a sadness to the post.
A realisation that it's now 'the past', and the poignancy of the 'tribute' that Nuzz wrote above is all there in the writing.
It's not written in your usual style mate, and as a piece of writing, is, honest to God, about as heartfelt as anything can be without getting mawkish.
It's a nice bit of writing mate, and I think it got Longy too, if his comment is anything to go by ?

You can tell I've just got off a writing site, can't you ?
But seriously, credit where credit is due.

(The show of course, is just pure Nikki)
Rock on.

Gary said...

Thank you so much for this.
My evening has ground to a halt and i'm touring through Nikki's music with the melancholy and the joy it delivers.
Beautiful, flawed, derivative but unique, it chronicles, HE chronicles, the muddled bits and bobs of my thoughts.
I don't think any musician's passing has made me sadder.

Thank you again for this and others.

4 dogs records said...

Hi Wolf you're always the best !!
I think this is the best way to remember Nikki,i've seen him in my town (Genoa Italy) with Dave Kusworth and Epic Soundtrack in a little theatre.
It's been 26 years ago, that concert is still in my heart!
Thank you Wolf for this treasure.

Anonymous said...

Nice one Nuzz, cheers. Though kinda worrying that yer hanging out on a Lemonheads forum.

Anonymous said...

Please can you repost this show?
Thank you