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Live in 1999

Upstairs at Nick's, Philadelphia
Nov. 5, 1999
Review by DFFD123

AN OPEN LETTER OF APOLOGY TO THE CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE: After your dismal failure to rock last year (Oct. 31, 1998), we just didn't think you had it in you. But you did it. You rocked. Hard. You even cheered loudly when the band was finished. (We can tell you were gonna call 'em back this time, even though the band never left the stage 'cause HDM apparently didn't see the need for going through the "encore" motions.) And you were paid nicely for your enthusiasm. You repeatedly raised your voices to request "Weekend" and "Two-Tub Man," and got them you did, as encores, even though the Dictators had apparently planned at least one different tune. As Manitoba put it, "We are the good lovers of rock. ... We want you to come first." You even got "Borneo Jimmy" -- for the first time in 15 years. And not that we want to start any municipal rivalries or anything, but we have a couple of friends in Boston who want to kick your ass for that.

Manitoba's, New York City
June 18, 1999
Review by DFFD123

Another day, another birthday, another birthday show, another brief appearance by the Dictators. This time the birthday boy was East Village musician Tom Clark, a friend of the 'Tators who opened for them at CBGBs a couple of years ago. The Dictators started their set, well, as Manitoba's Wild Kingdom. In Top Ten's absence, Ross, Andy, HDM and J.P. performed "The Party Starts Now" and "Had It Coming," followed by "Sonic Reducer." And Clark got the ultimate present when he was invited onstage to play rhythm guitar on "Baby, Let's Twist," "Stay With Me" and a rollicking version of "California Sun."

Coney Island High, New York City
June 16, 1999
Review by DFFD123

"We love Joey Ramone and all he stands for!" quoth Handsome Dick Manitoba during the Dictators' set at Joey Ramone's B-day Bash. The guys really tore it up in their post-midnight slot, playing with intensity and precision and showing up the 682 bands that preceded them (with the ever-delightful Ronnie Spector a notable exception ... oh, but I'm just being polite). A particularly noteworthy moment: Manitoba admitting on the public stage that he was--gasp--wrong! This once-in-a-lifetime event was the result of an introduction to "I Am Right," timed unfortunately before "Sonic Reducer." HDM was unfazed, however, and the band just kept up its powerful pace. There was some question as to whether the 'Tators played all that great or whether they played great in comparison to the 2,012 other folks. Well, they played that great. "New York New York," "Who Will Save Rock & Roll," "Sonic Reducer," "I Am Right" and "Stay With Me." Five songs for fifteen bucks? Definitely worth it tonight.

"Remember, I'm the best there is,
I'm the best there ever was,
and I'm the best there will ever be!!"
Handsome Dick Manitoba

Brighton Bar, Long Branch, N.J.
Feb. 20, 1999
Review by CJ Scioscia

It had been 12 years since I last saw the Dictators live (what's up with that?), and a lot has changed. Firstly, they're a full-fledged band again, and have been for a while now. No more Manowar, no more Del-Lords, no more Manitoba's Wild Kingdom--the Dictators are the priority. Also, no more Richie Teeter--he's been replaced by J.P. "Thunderbolt" Patterson. And, since this wasn't a "reunion" gig (I know, I know . . . they "didn't do" reunion gigs 'cause they never broke up), where mistakes could be forgiven (or even overlooked) because we were just happy to see 'em together again, would they be complacent playing the same old songs again?

That last question was answered with a resounding NO by a band that's as tight and as hungry as it's ever been. Answered by playing a steaming set, mixing in the new with the old to great effect. Answered by the professionalism of playing this gig on borrowed equipment (courtesy of opening act the X-Men). And answered by the always stellar frontmanship of the one-and-only "Handsome" Dick Manitoba, whose between song raps had me in stitches more than once.

"The strip is hoppin' on Friday night,
they come from Piscataway . . ."
during "Minnesota Strip"

As for the tunes from the band's three studio albums, well, you know what you're gonna get: "Master Race Rock," "Faster and Louder," "Stay With Me," "Weekend," etc. But the band has the placement of its newer material slotted in so perfectly that the crowd does not get bombarded by it. Case in point, sandwiching the brand new "What's Up With That" (sung by Andy) in between "The Party Starts Now" and "Minnesota Strip."

Actually, the inclusion of material from the Wild Kingdom album is also a nice breath of fresh air. Hell, it might as well have been the Dictators' fourth studio album since Andy wrote all the tunes and the only missing 'Tator was Top Ten. The fans are certainly familiar with it--I heard yells for "DWI" and "Speedball" throughout the evening. The songs played from their two Norton Records singles also sounded great. And leaving "Savage Beat" to the encore was unexpectedly cool. Nice touch, boys!

There was really no fault anywhere to go around, aside from the sound, which had Ross the Boss buried for most of the night. That's to be expected since the band relied on the house soundman. But wasn't he watching the stage seeing Ross rip it up? I know I was!!

Thanks, 'Tators. It won't be 12 years between gigs next time, you can count on it!!


New York, New York
Haircut and Attitude
Master Race Rock
Science Gone Too Far
Moronic Inferno
The Party Starts Now
What's Up With That
Minnesota Strip
Who Will Save Rock 'n' Roll?
Faster and Louder
Sonic Reducer
I Am Right
Stay With Me
Next Big Thing
Savage Beat
Two-Tub Man

Brighton Bar, Long Branch, N.J.
Feb. 20, 1999
Review by JMQ

Wow. Outstanding show. Tight, witty, great individual efforts and showmanship, with all of 'em really into each song. Where else can you get that level of entertainment for the price of a stupid movie?

From welcoming Roger Clemens to "New York, New York" to closing with "Two Tub Man," this was one of the best shows I've ever seen them do--and this comes from someone who started going to their shows as a Teengenerate back in the CBGB's blacklist days of the mid '70s.

After some initial problems with the X-Men's sound system, and except for Ross being somewhat buried, I thought they had pretty good sound for a change, although they were almost TOO loud. (Boy, that's a sure sign that I'm getting old!)

Good crowd--very appreciative, not especially rowdy, but the lack of drunken a-holes is always a blessing in my view. Just the right crowd density so that you had great sight lines to take turns focusing on each of the boys and be amazed by what was happpening on stage.

Again, it is one of the great crimes of the century that they are not more well known and appreciated, because to know 'em and to see 'em is to love 'em. The ignorant music fan's loss is our gain however, because then maybe the Dictators wouldn't be playing comfy venues like this. They seem to enjoy playing the Brighton too, which is good thing for those of us who live out here in our safe suburban slums. Hope they come back again soon.

Of the new stuff played, "Moronic Inferno" is a great, great song and was a show highlight for me. So was the guitar work on "Science Gone Too Far," which previously was never a big favorite of mine, but Scott and Ross blew me away on that one.

Regarding the Handsome One's lesson for the evening--"I'm the best there is, I'm the best there ever was, and I'm the best there will ever be!!"--I smell T-shirt.

"How can you learn anything when you're all talking?"

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