Celebrating fifty years of a band’s existence is a rare thing these days, especially one whose releases and activities were closely monitored by the U.S. authorities back in the 1960s and 70s. Despite the fact there’s now only one remaining member left in the band, the rapturous reception guitarist Wayne Kramer receives when he takes to the stage is evidence enough of just how highly his band are viewed.

Their influence can be heard in so many bands from Nirvana to Primal Scream, and you can even sense their political lyrics and raw guitar influence in bands like Slaves and Idles too. MC5 were a bunch of musicians hell-bent on causing a revolution, upsetting the establishment with their politics, whilst also managing to write incendiary rock n’ roll anthems which have definitely stood the test of time.

Tonight we get the whole of seminal 1968 album Kick Out The Jams, and as Kramer launches into ‘Ramblin Rose’, he stands centre stage, his custom stars and stripes guitar around his neck, and takes the mic for the lead vocal duties, blasting out the classic opening lines “Love is like a ramblin’ rose, the more you feed it, the more it grows” as the rest of the band he’s assembled for this tour do an amazing job of making us feel like we’re witnessing the MC5 in a 1960s time warp.

It’s hardly surprising that they’re tight, as Kramer has managed to pull together a band consisting of musicians whose former bands were all influenced by MC5. Taking on vocal duties for the rabble rousing anthem which is ‘Kick Out The Jams’ is Zen Guerrilla’s Marcus Durant who has perfected both the look of the late MC5 vocalist Rob Tyner as well as possessing the full on vocal power to do the song justice. It’s a song I’ve waited years to hear live and it doesn’t disappoint. Backed by a band comprising Kim Thayil from Soundgarden on guitar, Billy Gould from Faith No More on bass and Brendan Canty from Fugazi on drums, they really do these songs justice as the likes of ‘Rocket Reducer No 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)’ and ‘Borderline’ find Kramer playing with such energy and raw abandon, it’s hard to believe he’s 70!

Then during ‘Starship’, Kramer picks up some shakers and strides along the edge of the stage as if conducting some far-out ritual, blessing the audience with the shakers, as the psyched out freak rock of the song gathers pace. The MC5 were always out to challenge authorities, and are now considered pioneers and forerunners of the US punk scene, yet they managed to combine their political leanings with lyrics of everyday angst, love and lust, as in the brilliant ‘Sister Anne’ from 1971.

It may have been fifty years since they first revolutionised rock music, helping their “little brother band” Iggy & The Stooges to get signed to the same label, Elektra Records, in the 1960s along the way, through a journey that’s taken in militant politics, spells in prison, and stints in other bands, but Kramer has always been determined to keep the flame alive and fifty years on the revolutionary fire is still going strong. A mind blowing gig by the Detroit legend!

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From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.