The June 28 show at Brick by Brick by new supergroup the International Swingers, featuring bassist Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), drummer Clem Burke (Blondie, the Romantics), lead guitarist James Stevenson (Generation X, Gene Loves Jezebel), and singer/rhythm guitarist Gary Twinn (Supernaut), drew a crowd numbering less than 40 and many of those were with the opening acts, Ramones cover band Hey, Ho! Let’s Go! and Los Angeles rock group Freakstar.
Matlock good naturedly noted the lack of numbers, walking on stage with the comment “Where is everybody?” but the band still played a hard-rocking 18-song set (including 2-song encore) of the various members’ best known recordings, a few choice covers, and a pair of new originals. “We’re a cover band, it’s just that we cover ourselves,” Stevenson quipped from the stage.
Opening with the song “Out of Control” by the Twenty Flight Rockers (a Generation X offshoot which also included Twinn), the band hit its stride with the second number, Blondie’s hit “Hanging on the Telephone.” Though that version was sung by Debbie Harry, a new arrangement with Twinn on vocals brings the song closer to the original, male-sung rendition by the Nerves.
The International Swingers song selections were eclectic, though for the most part well known as being part of the various musicians repertoire, such as the Monkees “Stepping Stone,” which was recorded by the Sex Pistols, and “Stay With Me” by ‘70s rockers the Faces, who now include Matlock as bassist. A pair of exceptions performed were versions of “Friday on My Mind,” originally by the Easybeats, and a rendition of Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes.”
The audience got a bonus when Gene Loves Jezebel frontman Jay Aston joined the band for their hit tune “Jealous.” The song was in the set list due to Stevenson’s connection to Gene Loves Jezebel, but coincidentally, Aston is currently visiting friends in the downtown San Diego area and stopped in to catch the show. It took a little prodding, but Aston soon jumped up for the song. Looking around it seemed like everyone in the room had their cell phone camera going.
The International Swingers new songs “Sweet, Sweet Love” and “Honey’s Room” both slotted in well among the older, better known material, of which, Billy Idol/Generation X anthem “Dancing with Myself” received the biggest response.
If the band was disheartened by the turn out, it didn’t affect their playing. They were tight and seemed to be having fun, with Burke, the band MVP, channeling a bit of Keith Moon in his drum attack. The biggest surprise of the show was also from Burke. Though not a lead singer in his other projects, in this group he’s featured vocalist on a version of the Romantics’ powerpop gem, “What I Like About You.”
The International Swingers wrapped up the main set with the Sex Pistols “Pretty Vacant,” returning for a run through of the Stooges classic “No Fun” and then Eddie Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody.” A look at the set list shows the band did cut one song from a potential encore, choosing not to play “God Save The Queen.”
Post show, Matlock expressed disappointment at the turn out but was happy with the sound of the venue and the enthusiasm of those there.
It was a real crowd pleasing show, though without the crowd.
- Concert: International Swingers
- Date: June 28
- Venue: Brick by Brick
- Seats: General