While it’s Marky’s name emblazoned in foot-high letters across the stage, ownership of tonight’s beautiful blitzkrieg is inarguably shared with the tour’s guest vocalist. Standing in for Marky’s usual collaborator Michael Graves of Misfits, the galvanic Andrew WK performs with typical enthusiasm, his energy levels barely dinted by a breathless 35 song set in which each “1234!” intro comes piling in on the heels of the last.
Behind the kit, the Ramones’ longest-serving drummer keeps the 4/4 pace without breaking a sweat, steering the set through 20 years-worth of classic punk rock (including plenty from the three albums that preceded his recruitment). And while cynics would have a field day picking apart the reputation-trading nostalgia inherent in the whole affair, they’d also have to concede that pogoing along to Rockaway Beach, Beat on the Brat and The KKK Took My Baby Away is a hell of a lot of fun – as is the mosh pit that forms after the band leaves the stage for the third and final time, in response to Party Hard pumping through the PA.
The latter (slightly surreal) moment underscores the credit due to WK for tonight’s success: by giving stars-in-their-eyes Joey-mimicry a wide berth and retaining the puppyish persona that’s brought him cult acclaim, the event avoids coming across as ersatz karaoke masquerading as the Real McCoy, and registers instead as an impassioned and sincere celebration of The Ramones’ considerable contribution to modern music.