Concert Reviews

Johnette Napolitano Recalls Her Band's First Gig, Before They Were Ever Concrete Blonde

Johnette Napolitano leads Concrete Blonde back to Dallas later this week for a Friday night gig at the Granada Theater that will no doubt stand as one of the best shows in town.

With only a string of shows slated -- three in Texas and all around Halloween time, no less -- Napolitano promises that this Concrete Blonde show will be a treat.

Having recently chatted with her about her first show experiences, it's easy to see why. The leader of the seminal alternative outfit was kind enough to wax poetically to us about the first time she played with Concrete Blonde.

She also told us about the time she was gutted by The Doors of the 21st Century. And, no, that was not a good thing.

Read more after the break.

What do you remember about the first Concrete Blonde show?
We were called The Dreamers then. The very first time we played, it was my birthday. I can't remember the year, but it was the night [guitarist/producer/engineer] Earle Mankey's second son was born. We played at Club 88 in Santa Monica. Rodney Bingenheimer was there. It was pretty hardcore. Posh Boy was there. Greg Shaw from Bomp! Records was there. Jim [Mankey, Concrete Blonde guitarist] was well known because of Sparks, so it was a big deal. We had Stu Deutsch from the Plasmastics, who's a friend of ours, playing bass at the time. I don't remember much of the show. I remember it was amazing we did it.

What was the first show you remember seeing? Were you with your parents?
Lee Michaels at the Hollywood Palladium.

Lee Michaels. Why am I blanking on the song he's best known for?
[sings] "It's been 14 days since I don't when/I just saw her with my best friend/Do you know what I mean?"

It could have been anybody. But that was the first year I was allowed to go out. I think I was 14. That song was all over the radio. I rolled a joint with hash in it, put it in my bellbottoms and lost it. And it was a real drag because we wanted to smoke it and get high before our parents came to pick us up. [Laughs.] To this day, the loudest fuckin' show I've ever seen.

Really? Were they trying to play over all the screaming fans?
Man, that was a '70s rock band. You had a stack on one side, a Hammond B3 on the other side. This was the '70s. You didn't have to try to be loud. It was just that way. The Palladium was built to do dance music. It's a huge place -- definitely cavernous in terms of how sound goes. I've played there a couple of times.

What about the worst show you've ever seen?
That's a really hard decision. First of all, I could have a pageant in my head right now. [Laughs.] Even then, it's really hard to say, it could have been the artist's off-night. Because it's like, "No, no, no, I'm not seeing you be this bad." Let's see: That band when they got The Doors back together with the guy in The Cult!

Ian Astbury on vocals!
Yeah! You could have pretty much given me a gun that I could have used on my head easily on watching that shit. It almost completely destroyed my ever wanting to fucking admit I was ever involved in any rock 'n' roll in my life.

What do you remember about the first time you played Dallas?
Deep Ellum. I don't remember the venue, but I do remember there was a record store that was super-fuckin' cool that did an amazing window for us. I think it was Walking In London.

Concrete Blonde plays on Friday, October 28th at the Granada Theater.