Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dirt City Graphic

In the early 1980's Graham Central Station was one of the few places in town where you could go see live touring acts. Given the sad state of Albuquerque live music in those days I was always hungry to go see a live band that played original music.  So, while at work one glorious day, they kept announcing upcoming shows at Graham's on the radio. Over the din of saws, hammers and air compressors, it sounded like the announcer had said X was playing that night. Cool! I thought to myself, John Doe and Exene Cervenka, it was just what I needed to get me through the week. After work I went home, got cleaned up and drove to Graham's, but something seemed wrong when I got there. The line of people waiting to get in did not look like they were into X.  Usually when a new wave band hit town, Albuquerque's uber cool closet punks and new wavers would drag out their trendy duds. When I finally got to the entrance, the doorman took one look at me and said "You can't come in here dressed like that" I looked at him "What! you have a dress code to see X?" "Who the fuck is that" he replied, "Axe is playing tonight and you're not getting in." I had actually heard about Axe, they were a cheesy glam metal band from Los Angeles, "Oh, it's the wrong band anyway" I said, making my exit  with some of my self esteem still intact. I few weeks later I heard Adam Ant was playing at Graham Central, this time I played it cool and followed the dress code. I had no idea there would be that many Adam Ant fans in the Duke City, but the place was full. The crowd wasn't really new wave, it looked like the same lame assholes that had watched Axe a few weeks before.
I was a fan of Adam Ant, however I was more interested in seeing Marco Pirroni.  The legend and cult of Marco Pirroni had been growing in the U.K. where he was a lynchpin in the British punk scene, first as a follower of Malcolm McLaren and then as the original guitarist for Siouxsie and the Banshees. Pirroni would later form his own group The Models, who charted a minor UK hit in 1977.  His next two projects Rema-Rema and Cowboys International helped to elevate his status as a new wave savant. This led to a call from Malcolm McLaren inviting him to join a new version of The Ants (McLaren having nicked the original Ants to form Bow Wow Wow with Annabella Lwin) Pirroni then became Adam Ant's songwriting partner, scoring with two #1 U.K. singles in 1980.  Anyhow, back at Graham's, I'm drinking a rum and coke, when the guy next to me says; "Did you hear that Marco Pirroni is touring with him?" I looked at him quizzically "You know about Marco Pirroni?" I asked him, "Sure" he answered "He's a fuckin' legend in England" I was impressed to say the least. Adam Ant comes out and starts right into a playlist heavy with tracks from the "Kings of the Wild Frontier" and "Prince Charming" albums. I searched the stage, but Marco Pirroni was nowhere to be found, The Ant Man continued to sweat and grind, which finally seemed to get the crowd going, and then about halfway through the set, Adam Ant finally introduced Marco Pirroni to the audience. I heard legend guy yell at me "This guy is really good, watch him"
I'm standing next to the stage, Pirroni is practically led to his spot, he looked pale and extremely sick or fucked up, on closer examination I notice he's wearing what appear to be pajamas. He holds his guitar but seems unsteady, I glance at his feet, he's wearing fucking house slippers!  The show must go on, but Marco is not even playing his guitar, he's just mimicking the notes. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, between songs, I yelled at him "Play Something Marco!" he looked my way and flashed a weak smile. I turned to a girl next to me and told her "He's not even playing his guitar" she shot me a surly look and turned her back to me. Then either the drugs took effect or they wore off, but Marco suddenly started to play, and for a few minutes I saw what they were clamoring about in the U.K., then the show ended, there was no encore. I stood there for a moment and thought about Johnny Rotten's taunt at the end of The Pistol's last show "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" As I started to leave I ran into the legend guy again, he was beaming "Marco was fucking great man, I told you, he's a fucking legend."  I said nothing as I walked past him....nothing. I guess Marco was a trouper, although that night I didn't appreciate his efforts. Following his stint with Adam Ant he joined up with Sinéad O'Connor in 1987, for her debut album "The Lion and the Cobra." In 1990 he was featured on her best known album "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got,"  on that occasion he was joined by former Ant, Kevin Mooney. He also worked with Sinéad on her 1994 album "Universal Mother" and continues to work with her to this day.