Concert review from "time off" - a free street newspaper in Brisbane Australia, October 1992.
Last Wednesday night, Izzy Stradlin' was 160Km from Newcastle and a million miles from care - ie Guns N' Roses. Last year's farcical Rock in Rio Festival, where his Guns N' Roses cohorts showed advanced signs for megastar paranoia for the first time, and its 150,000 crowds must have seemed like some long-departed personal incarnation as Stradlin and his thinly-veiled Rolling Stones tribute band crusied throught their set before 500 people on a cold, wet Newcastle night.
Hired equipment, modest lights, a slightly disapointing - if vocal - crowd; it was hardly paradise city but you got the inpression Keith Richards II wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Stradlin will never be flamboyant or effusive, but for the first time I can remember I actually saw him smile.
Make no mistake about the Ju Ju Hounds - they are no more than a garage band of Stones and southern rock afficianados who, throught the good fortune that one of their members is a rock God, played some of their first gigs before a 200 a night in Japan instead of a the Rose and Thistle on the corner of Main and Calder in Boise, Idaho.
With a hotch potch of low slung and unconforming Stonesy coolness, they aren't even as accessable as guitarist Rick Richard's former outfit, the Georgia Satellites, were two years ago. And they broke up because no-one gave a shit.
The key to the Ju Ju Hounds is the fact that covers in their set, the stone's "crakin' up", Ronnie Woods "Take a look at the Guy" and even the reggae number "Pressure Drop" sound like originals. Izzy plays for himself and doesn't give a shit if you think it's derivative. He's already a millionaire.
And how would the shyest member of the world's most ostentatious band handles the fronting of his own outfit?? Well ..... shyly. The Indiana native never seems to look a fan in the face and spends breaks meekly staring up or down, saying only gems like "this one's called 'Cuttin' the rug'."
But, like I said, he smiles.
With Richards handling lead breaks, former Broken Homes basseman Ashhurst just kinda prowling and Drummer Charlie Quintana always looking for that real big bang, the Hounds are best taken with a few beers and maybe a funny cigarette or two.
"Somebody Knockin", "Shuffle It All", "Cuttin' The Rug" - stage front or elbow on the bar, you're still gonna enjoy 'em without needing to glue your eyes to the stage for fear of missing something.
And just like Gn'R Lies turned some fresh faces onto the likes of Aerosmith and Rose Tattoo, Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds visibly stunned the palates of 500 Novocastrians on Wednesday. They liked it, chanting their approval and refraining from making gunners requests, proving wrong that psudes no doubts say to each other about them.
Izzy's gonna do himself a lot of good with this project, no matter how long it lasts, but he's going to broaden the musical education of thousands along the way.
Who needs a trillion bucks when you can be in the tightest, coolest, most entertaining garage band on the planet, anyway?