WALTER LURE - Bristol Exchange

On the 20 January 1978 Sid Vicious was recovering in a New York hospital, having slipped into a drug induced coma on the flight from San Francisco, after the Sex Pistols final ever gig. He was phoned by Roberta Bayley, a local photographer, who in the course of their conversation enquired what he planned to do once discharged. Sid's reply was as follows:

"Yeah, I'm going back to London to get a group together with Johnny Thunders... Just think what that group would be like with me, Thunders, Nolan and Walter Lure".

Sadly in just over a year Vicious would be gone, to be followed in the early 90's by both Thunders and Nolan.

So, when given the opportunity to catch Walter Lure in the flesh, it was something I was not going to pass up lightly. After the break up of the Heartbreakers, the band with whom Lure made his name, he kept his hand in musically with appearances on several Ramones albums. Latterly he has toured periodically with his own band The Waldos, although this has to be fitted around his "day job" as a Wall Street trader!

The same band that backed him on his last visit to these shores has been reunited, so tonight he is ably assisted by bassist Ray Birch and drummer Ozzie from Gunfire Dance, and the multi talented Jez Miller of The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing and Lords of the New Church. The Exchange is a relatively new Bristol venue with a capacity of 500 spread over two floors. Whilst not absolutely full tonight, there was a more than decent turn out to see one of the undoubted legends of the 70's New York punk scene that so heavily influenced the first generation of British punk bands.

Taking to the stage with bowler hat and tie, you could be lulled into thinking that Lure had forsaken his hell raising days for a more sedate lifestyle. However, once the pounding drums of opener "One Track Mind" blast out, the years are shed in an instant, and we are transported back to time when Lure held sway at legendary Manhattan venues like CBGB's and Max's Kansa City.

With a set list of comprising of largely LAMF era Heartbreakers songs, interspersed with numbers from the Waldos CD "Rent Party", he gives the audience what they want. That is, down and dirty punk rock music!

With barely a lapse between songs, the band rattled through such gems as "Take A Chance", "All By Myself", and "Get Off The Phone". Also, it was nice to hear "London Boys" a cracking number written in retaliation to the Sex Pistols "New York". Whilst musical history sometimes portrays the original punk bands as being united in a backs-to-the-wall siege mentality, in truth the scene was bedevilled with rivalries, especially between London and New York bands: "You need an escort to take a piss. He holds your hand and he shakes your dick". Take that Mr Rotten!

The Waldos material is largely new to me, but none the less, dovetails nicely into the set, as the numbers retain the guitar driven feel of the Heartbreakers. "Golden Days", "Countdown Love" and particularly "7 Day Weekend" are fine slabs of rock'n'roll in anybody's book.

Over the course of the gig Lure swaps vocal and lead guitar duties with Jez Miller. I had previously been aware of Jez as the quiet, unassuming drummer of The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. But tonight he is a centre stage rock god, throwing poses amidst a halo of dreadlocks. He showcased his undoubted talents as a vocalist and guitar hero and perhaps should think about stepping out from behind the drum kit more often.

Miller's musical abilities allow Lure to get his second wind so, that when the band heads into the business end of the gig, he is able to unleash his full repertoire on punk classics such as "Born to Lose", "Chinese Rocks" and "Too Much Junkie Business".

With a blistering encore of "Pirate Love" the gig was done and Walter Lure, the punk rock legend, vanished into the night. I suspect a combination of age, and the vagaries of the Dow Jones index, means that his visits to the UK will remain spasmodic. However, if you do get a chance to see him on his fleeting journeys across the pond, I recommend you take it with both hands.


(Thanks to Alison Bateman of Work Hard for her help with the gig)