Amidst his latest Brazilian tour, CJ Ramone played the traditional Porão do Rock Festival in Brasília, DF. Every time the bassist comes to Brazil he seems more confident in showing his own work, despite the Ramones songs still being the greatest attraction for the vast majority of the audience. In this sense, he's somewhat different from Marky Ramone, who also likes to tour around these parts but seems more and more like a cover of himself.
Not only are Marky's gigs almost entirely composed of Ramones material, he also looks like a caricature of who he once was. With his complete uniform and the perfect black wig, the drummer hires local musicians to fill the spots in his band. It feels a bit like those Ringo concerts where he receives guest after guest onstage for a night of nostalgia. CJ's shows, on the other hand, feel more like Paul McCartney's, where he mixes old and new songs and pays tribute without trying to hide the passage of time.
As in previous shows on Brazilian soil, the Ramones-era long hair is gone and the leather jacket, unbearable in the tropical heat, gave way to jeans, t-shirt and a NY Yankees cap covering his grey shaved head. Simplicity and genuine enjoyment to play transpired. His reliant and experienced band, composed of Adolescents' guitarists Steve Soto and Dan Root and D Generation's drummer Michael Wildwood were also great, easily dominating the somewhat large festival stage.
They opened the show with three of CJ's own songs in a row, "What You're Gonna Do Now?," "King Cobra" and "Understand Me," the first single from his upcoming Fat Wreck Chords release. The tracks are strong, but a bit too mid-tempo to really excite the crowd. Then, they started throwing some Ramones songs around and the audience responded very well, quietly enjoying CJ's tunes and excitingly jumping, moshing and singing along to the old punk rock classics.
Progressively, the set list went from the bassist's solo songs with a few Ramones tracks in between to an all Ramones moment to close the quick performance. Of his former band, they played "Blitzkrieg Bop," "Commando," "Judy is a Punk," "Glad To See You Go," "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" and "53rd & 3rd," as well as the great "Strength To Endure" -- originally sung by CJ in 1992's Mondo Bizarro -- and the traditional versions of "California Sun," "Do You Wanna Dance?" and "R.A.M.O.N.E.S." as the last song.
Among the bassist own material were several songs from his previous record, Reconquista, like "You're The Only One," "Carry Me Away," "Low On Ammo" and "Three Angels," composed in memory of Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee. They also played the pretty good title-track of his next record, "Last Chance to Dance." Shame they only had 45 minutes onstage, but the complete show also passed by 11 other Brazilian cities, giving fans a good opportunity to enjoy CJ's "American punk rock."