Some of My Favorite Shows (Part 4)

Rock legend has it that Stiv Bator used to stuff Martha's muffin.

This is another show that comes under the heading of “Foggy but Fond Memories” – as do most of the shows I write about, now that I think of it. Is this a natural result of aging and the passage if time, or is it directly attributable to the Rock’n’Roll Lifestyle, or some combination of the two? Impossible to say at this juncture, and I don’t suppose it matters that much.

Anyway: the band was the Lords of the New Church, the venue the venerable Berkeley Square, and the time…em…sometime in the latter mid-80s? A web search spits out the date March 22, 1986, which seems a bit early by my timetable. But it could be right…perhaps I was spending spring break with the Babbs of Vallejo? It’s plausible.

This was as close as I ever came to attending a genuine Punk Rock show. But while the Lords had impeccable punk credentials – singer Stiv Bator and guitarist Brian James were veterans of the Dead Boys and the Damned, respectively – they were really Beyond Category, mixing Stones-y rock and 60s garage with bits of funk and a dark theatrical streak that caused some people to mistake them for a goth band.

Bator was perhaps the most charismatic frontman I’ve ever seen in person. He was one of those people who had a weird glow about him, who managed to make playing with the giant skin flap above his upper lip seem like the epitome of rock’n’roll cool.

I use the past tense because Stiv died in 1990, after being hit by a taxi in the streets of Paris. He was also one of those people who seemed destined not to live long. To wit:

Stiv did not write this song – Peter Laughner, who died even younger, did – but he sure sounds like he means it. He certainly performed with complete abandon, throwing his body around after the fashion of his role model, Iggy Pop. He also liked to do a bit onstage where he pretended to hang himself with the mic cord, and I heard a story that he once slipped and almost asphyxiated himself onstage. This may or may not be true, but the fact that it’s believable says a lot about Stiv.

The Lords may not have been a “real” punk band, but there was slam-dancing at this show, and stage-diving…I have a very vivid mental image of a guy climbing onto the stage and launching himself into the crowd, which parted Red Sea-like, leaving the poor bastard to crash helplessly to the floor. It was hilarious.

Those days, as we all know, are never to return. I struggled to find a video clip that would convey something of what The Lords were like, partly because many of the live documents are lo-fi, to say the least, and partly because The YouTube cannot replicate that 80s nightclub atmosphere here in my quiet and smoke-free home office. I finally settled on this one. You may enjoy it.

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