CJ Ramone @ Shibuya Club Quattro (Nov. 4th, 2014)

Ramones spirt alive and punk rockin’
Live Report @ Shibuya Club Quattro 2014.11.04

CJ Ramone

From the mean streets of NYC some 40 years ago, to present day Tokyo, The Ramones legend lives on. Just this year, the last of the original tour members, drummer Tommy Ramone passed away joining his fallen brothers Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone. They’ve been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received a lifetime achievement Grammy. They’ve been on numerous greatest of all of time lists from the likes of Rolling Stone, Spin, VH1 and more. They’ve stood the test of time and still now we can see their influence on the punk rock movement worldwide. So, it’s no wonder that anything Ramones related can still draw large crowds. C.J. Ramone played with the band from 1989 to 1996 as bassist and vocalist. C.J. has dabbled in a few projects since The Ramones, including tribute band The Ramainz, with founding members Dee Dee and Marky. He’s never abandoned the Ramones moniker and since 2009 he’s been out on his own recording and touring as simply C.J. Ramone. His sets include scads of Ramones material mixed in with original recordings. This fall marks the release of C.J.’s second full length album and recent signing to Fat Wreck Chords.

C.J. was in Japan for 5 dates taking him westward from Tokyo to Miyazaki. This first show at Shibuya’s club Quattro saw him and his band in good form. The crowd was buzzing well before the set kicked off. A DJ was playing Ramones classics as the crowd continued to swell surrounding the stage. Sing-alongs proceeded until prerecorded music would no longer satisfy. Rampant chants of ‘Hey Ho! Let’s Go!’ echoed in room until the cries were finally answered. C.J., in his now standard black tee and Yankees ball cap made his way to the mic, asking us if we were “ready to have some fun?” We didn’t have to wait long as the next words out of his mouth were “Blitzkrieg Bop!!!”

CJ Ramone

The party instantly erupted. The masses of fans adorned in leather jackets, Ramones shirts, and even a mohawk or two were set free. People skanked, moshed and crowd surfed as everyone in attendance sang along. Up next, “Beat on the Brat”, followed by “Judy Is a Punk”, then “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”. The Ramones faithful couldn’t have asked for more. C.J. was playing the Ramones self-titled debut album in its entirety. It all sounded great. Not that Ramones tunes with their three-chord, two-minute design are particularly hard to cover, but isn’t that the point; it’s music for the people, and the people tonight were loving every minute of it (or every 2 minutes as it were).

Some 35 minutes later, in his heavy NY accent, C.J. took to the mic again to thank the fans and pay respect to his fallen Ramone brothers. He then gave us a preview of a couple tunes off his upcoming album, ‘Last Chance to Dance’. We were treated to the first single, ” Understand Me” as well as the title track “Last Chance to Dance”. Clearly different than the Ramones material, his new tunes are harder, faster, more technical fare, but still keep in the Ramones spirit.

CJ Ramone

It was then back into classic Ramones tunes including favourites such as “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” before closing the set with another sing-along smash, “Pinhead”. This tune brought out the Ramones Japan Fan Club with members in the crowd and on stage waving their ‘Gabba Gabba Hey’ signs in the air.

After a short stint backstage, the chants of ‘Hey Ho’s’ brought C.J. out for an encore which started with “California Sun” and ended with the Ramones tribute song by Motorhead, “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.”. It was everything a Ramones fan could ask for on this night, and although a second encore didn’t come, fans refused to leave, still chanting for more. 18 years after disbanding, it’s these same hardcore fans that keep two separate touring Ramones bands going (Marky Ramone also continues to represent the Ramones as he tours with his band, Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg) and more than anything ensures the Ramones spirit will live forever.

*The photos featured in this article are from a show @ Umeda Club Quattro on the 6th, Nov.

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