Twice in one week The Barwon Club Geelong have provided world-class talent to our humble town. Tuesday, 10 September saw Michigan post-hardcore band La Dispute take to the corner stage, while Sunday presented a man from the family that indirectly paved the way for La Dispute to exist. Punk royalty, CJ Ramone brought his final tour to Geelong for a celebration of his career in the punk sphere.
Following a killer support slot from Geelong’s own Von Stache, CJ and band took to the stage and with a quick “Ramones Forever” war-cry, they launched straight into the Ramones take of Chris Montez’s ‘Let’s Dance’. This was just a taste of the Ramones heavy setlist to come. ‘My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down’, ‘Rockaway Beach’, and ‘Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment’ filled out the first half of the set with pops of CJ’s original material from this years’ release of ‘The Holy Spell…’ weaved throughout and included a look into his future in the country realm with a version of Johnny Cash’s ‘Movin’ On’.
While all Ramones songs are anthems in their own right, ‘The KKK Took My Baby Away’ was a belter for the Geelong crowd. ‘Sheena Is a Punk Rocker’ followed, matching the animalistic energy of the crowd. CJ took a break from the hard-hitting, punchy classics for a sweet moment to dedicate his delicate track ‘Rock On’ to his guitarist of twelve years who sadly passed away. In a massive ‘lol jk’ move by Ramone, taking cues from Cliff’s iconic mixtape for Torrance in cheerleading rom-com classic, Bring It On, the track turned from sombre soft rock to bull-at-a-gate rock ‘n’ roll and the crowd sure responded!
Returning to a Ramones riot, ‘Commondo’, ‘53rd and 3rd’, ‘Do You Wanna Dance?’, and ‘California Sun’ appeared back to back for a full-on fan frenzy on the dance floor. While the Ramones have a catalogue of political driven tracks and fun-loving tunes, they didn’t shy away from love songs. This one in particular made the setlist – with CJ’s explanation that Joey wrote the song about Johnny’s girlfriend and may not have gone down too well playing it live, further boasting “I’m the only one left so now I’m driving the bus and get to choose the songs” – ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’ brought the twist and jive for a millisecond before the jumping and headbanging was resurrected. ‘Glad To See You Go’ and ‘Pinhead’ rounded out the mammoth body of the set.
Similar to La Dispute, the awkward stage exit and re-emerge for an encore was dropped in place of continuing the punk love. It was time for my personal favourite Ramones tracks to surface – ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’ was met with hip shakes, head nods, finger clicks and a chorus of ’20-20-24 hours to go, I wanna be sedated’ echoing through the venue before jumping into the ultimate Ramones hit. Fists punched through the air in unison and boisterous chants rang out; “Hey Ho; Let’s Go”, ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ arrived at the party and blew us away! It’s one thing to hear the tracks on the radio or on your Spotify playlist but to have a flesh and blood Ramone rock out on stage in honour of the family he was part of and a band he was a fan of before joining, that’s special! Without further adieu, the perfect ending to a perfect evening came in the form of a cover of Motörhead’s ‘R.A.M.O.N.E.S’.
While CJ Ramone is moving on from his punk past onto a country career, he proved a few things on that fateful night; the Ramones songs are still as relevant, hard-hitting and goddamn perfect as ever, that CJ Ramone has earned and deserves his adopted last name, and that punk is not dead!
Where: Barwon Club
When: Sunday 15 September
Reviewed by Tammy Walters