Memory is also a slice of the “good” Thunders, who was never known as Mr. Reliable over the course of his 38 years. His death—of—drugs, leukemia, whatever, he looked like Hell at the end in the weirdly excellent Lech Kowalski documentary Born to Lose—capped a life lived to the limits and set a high standard for self-destruction. Thunders would go through streaks of semi-sobriety and then lean back into what passed for his normal state.
This DVD is obviously Thunders in the former stage. His guitar playing is ragged and fresh during a well-paced 20-song set, shot from stage right with what appears to be two cameras. Due to the limited angle, we rarely get a full frontal shot of Sir Johnny's face or his fretting, but the sound is excellent—its CD counterpart, In the Flesh (Amsterdamned), is likewise high quality. Thunders here is backed by his also-deceased band mates from the New York Dolls—Jerry Nolan on drums and Arthur Kane on bass—along with Barry Jones on 2nd guitar. But all three are simply there as placeholders. Nolan, who was usually the front and center of anything he participated in, is uncharacteristically subdued and Kane hangs onto his old, statue-like presence. It's an odd set, really, with material ranging from the Dolls to ill-advised Chuck Berry covers and even a song from Que Sera Sera, one of Thunders' most underrated solo albums. The notion of a semi-Dolls reunion is never apparent here; this is Thunders' show and he shines as bright. His solo days will never be close to the classic Heartbreakers albums or shows; a HB show, even when most of the band were sprawled on the floor, was the real deal and pure entertainment. This, on the other hand, is what you would imagine Thunders wanted to come up with every night, yet could never get there because of his various addictions. [MVD]
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