Every Thursday, we dig through the Paste Cloud archives to revisit some of our favorite past concert videos and audio. This week, we’ve got material from The Ramones, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Blondie.
The Ramones: Live at Winterland, 1978
The Ramones turned music on its head with the release of their self-titled debut album of fast, scorching energy that was to become known as punk rock. From the streets of Forest Hills, Queens in the mid-1970s came a motley crew of four boys looking for some good old rock ‘n’ roll fun, and out came an ingenious recipe for three chords and a fast beat that would soundtrack the underground music scene for decades. On a late December evening in 1978 in support of their latest album of the time Road to Ruin, the Ramones brought their infamous New York sneer to sunny San Francisco, and in that night cemented punk rock as a global movement that will never be extinguished.
They admirably kick off their set with a kiss-off to the California coast, “Rockaway Beach,” before running through an extensive 21-song set riddled with hits. The band barely stops in between songs besides a few rushed moments of formal stage banter, but they waste no time transitioning from “I Don’t Want You” to “Go Mental” without a note in between. Hard and fast as usual, the Ramones master the quick transitions with the simplicity of their songs. With a maximum of roughly three chords and three minutes to each song, the Ramones have little use for any adornments. Hits such as “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” are played through with lighting-fast pace as singer Joey Ramone writhes and thrashes alone among the three other band members before transitioning right into “I Wanna be Sedated.” If there is any intermission between songs, it’s usually cut only with Joey’s iconic “1,2,3,4” countdown to the song.
Dressed in all black, the band is unassuming to look at, but mobilize from the first chord played. But 40 years later and with none of the original members left, the music of the Ramones continues to excite and mobilize audiences much like the band did back in ‘78, and like what the punk rock movement has accomplished over its decades of history — Kurt Suchman
Crosby, Stills and Nash: Live at Winterland, 1973
Crosby, Stills and Nash are one of the most celebrated supergroups of all time. The band, formed in 1968, features three (sometimes four) of the most decorated artists of the ‘60s era: David Crosby (The Byrds), Stephen Stills (Buffalo Springfield) and Graham Nash (The Hollies). In this mind-blowing acoustic performance from October 4, 1973 at the historic Winterland Ballroom, the trio also invite frequent collaborator Neil Young onto the stage for part of the set.
This set includes many classics off of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s first album including “Wooden Ships” and “Helplessly Hoping.” One of the many highlights is the beautifully performed “Prison Song,” a reflection of the harsh prison system. Graham Nash sings and plays harmonica on this poignant number. The encore, “Change Partners” is praised by the audience, with many of the spectators applauding vigorously when the band comes back on stage.
Many of the tunes that Crosby, Stills and Nash played that evening regard political and social issues that are still debated on today. The trio’s output on our country’s culture and the art of the protest song is a vital part of Americana and indie folk today. Crosby, Stills and Nash spurred a revival in folk and traditional music, one that continues to have a dynamic part on our society today. With Americana and alt-country music currently at a high point, it is no wonder why Crosby Stills and Nash continue to have such a big influence on today’s singer/songwriters. — Ben Rosner
Blondie: Live at Convention Hall, 1979
When they first emerged in the mid-late ‘70s, Blondie didn’t fall cleanly within the genre constraints of the hardcore punk scene of New York City. It almost seems fated in retrospect, since they instead became the figurehead of power pop and the new wave influences that followed. The five-piece dominated underground music for years, and all eyes were on the fiercely blonde Debbie Harry, who may very well be the “petit ingénue” that she sings about in “Pretty Baby.”
On July 7, 1979, the group performed at the Convention Hall in Asbury Park, NJ. The set starts off with “Dreaming,” as Harry emerges into the spotlight in a streetwise hoodie to belt out one of many anthemic songs of the night. They also do a cover of the Nerves’ pop punk track, “Hanging on the Telephone,” which Harry delivers with her signature deadpan affectation.
While singing “Tear Her to Shreds,” Harry bares her sabertooth to roast a certain “Miss Groupie Supreme,” rumored to be Sid Vicious’s girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Guitarist Chris Stein participates on the vocals as the front woman loudly screeches, “Rip her to shreds!”
The show ends with a cover of T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get It On).” Harry’s tendrils are now flying in different directions, and there’s a wild, ravenous look in her eyes when she struts to the beat. — Mady Thuyein