The Magic Christian / Gord Lewis & Dave Rave Club Absinthe, Hamilton ON January 20
Published Jan 24, 2009It might have been the coldest night of the winter so far outside, but the frigid temps did nothing to keep people away from witnessing Hamilton music history in the making. It's rare to see a club packed on a Tuesday night, but the debut Hamilton performance by San Francisco's the Magic Christian was something that many Hammer music fans just did not want to miss.
The Magic Christian, named after the Peter Sellers film, is the new outfit fronted by Flamin Groovies' guitarist Cyril Jordan. The Groovies' 1971 album Teenage Head was where Hamilton high school student Gord Lewis nicked the moniker for his own band, something that Jordan was well aware of although the two bands never got to play together. However, for his new band's Hamilton debut it was arranged for Lewis to open the show.
Hometown live appearances by Lewis since the death of his longtime Teenage Head band mate Frankie Venom have been sporadic. This was his first since without Head bassist Steve Marshall by his side. Instead, onetime TH vocalist Dave Rave shared the stage with Lewis, revisiting material from the Electric Guitar album like "She Rips My Lips" along with classics like "Picture My Face" and "Let's Shake." Former Forgotten Rebel Chris Houston also helped out, doing the vocals to "Disgusteen" to rapturous applause but the best was yet to come.
When Cyril Jordan ended the Groovies in 1992 he didn't intend to quit music altogether, he just wanted to find the right vocalist before starting another band. It took him more than a decade, but the discovery of Paul Kopf was just what Jordan needed to revitalize his rock'n'roll soul. Kopf has the stage swagger of a 20-year veteran, the energy of an 18-year-old and a killer voice that he uses to full effect. Add into the equation the solid rhythm section of former Plimsouls bassist Eddie Munoz and Blondie timekeeper Clem Burke - who never ever hits this hard in his other band - and Magic Christian ares a band made to please.
Sticking mainly to material off their upcoming Evolver album, half of which can already be heard streaming on their MySpage page, the potent mixture of Jordan's killer cool riffing and Kopf's convincing stage manners made this one to remember. Kopf's "Who The Fuck Is Mick Jagger" shirt fit his attitude to a tee. He was confident without being brash, commanding without showing arrogance. Sprinkled into the set were some choice covers of the Who, the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five, all done with style and enough muscle to make them their own. This was a band in control.
If their regular set wasn't inspiring enough, the encores Magic Christian played were something that had to be seen to be believed. Gord Lewis was called up first for a raucous romp through the Groovies' "Teenage Head" that had the 250 strong crowd dancing; for their second encore Dave Rave was also asked up and the sextet then banged out a jaw-dropping version of the Groovies "Shake Some Action" that had Jordan and Lewis exchanging leads while Clem Burke pounded those drums as if his life depended on it. You really wanted it to never end, it was that good.