Sheena & The Rokkets
Marky Ramone once told me* that many bands had tried to imitate the Ramones sound, but that he knew only one band who pulled it off. That band was Sheena and the Rokkets.
A straight-forward endorsement, but in the end, not nearly as accurate as I’d expected. When Sheena and her band hit the Ramones style, they did it right – not vocally, of course, but melodically and instrumentally, there was no question Marky was on to something. But in the Crystal Palace just before midnight, there turned out to be a lot more happening with the punk diva and her posse.
As the room neared capacity, the sounds of Mission Control came over the speakers, and as we had ignition and lift off, the Rokkets hit the stage. Having been around since the ‘70s, you can’t ignore the fact that the Rokkets are long in the tooth. Still, something about it worked. The guitarist, in his white jacket and hat, led the band through their first number which was either the Batman television theme or a surf tune that sounds exactly like it. Afterward, they performed another song which he sang. Still no sign of Sheena. Apparently, these punks took their cues from James Brown. Building the drama.
Finally the guitarist introduced the rest of the band and gave Sheena her welcome. What to make of Sheena herself? She kind of has to be seen to be believed. She’s an aging punk rocker that’s a cross between Tina Turner and Peggy Bundy. Her hair could envelop an entire Japanese fishing village. Her black studded jacket was removed to display a red sequined shirt and teeny top, and she looked pretty good for someone who’s not seen thirty in a little while. When she opens her mouth, what comes out is a low, gravelly, throaty sound, not entirely what you’d expect. You might be pretty freaked out if she approached you on the street. I was a little freaked out with 200 people between myself and the stage.
Sheena, however, is a performer, and perform she did, with a smile on her face, right from the opener, a cover of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” It went into a string of Rokkets classics from there. There were nods to the Ramones, of course, but also more rock’n’roll with a ’50s flavour, a couple of riffers, and a couple of slow numbers, too. It’s good to see a legend still rockin’ it out, and that’s what the Rokkets did.
*in an interview - it’s not like we hang out and do tequila shots or anything.
photos by sugata
Reported by James Tennant (2008.07.30 / 09:04)