Words by Abby Kearney
Most of Walter Lure’s former band-mates are dead. This becomes something of a running joke during his set. ‘I wrote this with Johnny/Dee Dee/Jerry… RIP’ he says, with mock reverence before playing whichever collaboration. He also makes lots of quips about ‘visiting the graveyard’, ‘burying friends’.
Lure was joint frontman for Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers. Johnny died, and drummer Jerry Nolan, and bassist Billy Rath. Later, Lure formed The Waldos and buried even more band-mates. He then became a successful stockbroker on Wall Street, rising to manager of his own medium sized team, a move he credits with his still being alive.
Promotional material for Lure’s current UK tour often dwells on all the casualties, painting Lure as ‘The Survivor’, the final bastion of first-gen New York punk. A man deep in with The Ramones, The Dictators, The New York Dolls. A man who embarked on a famous, doomed UK tour with The Sex Pistols and The Clash. In short, a man with ‘a few stories to tell’.
Lure does have a few stories to tell. Tonight, at Soup Kitchen, he tells some stories about each of his songs. ‘Chinese Rock’ was borne of picking up with Dee Dee Ramone. Staring at Johnny Thunders’ strung out face resulted in, ‘Too Much Junkie Business’. ‘London Boys’ is a critical response to The Sex Pistols, who had called the The Heartbreakers, ‘drug addled hippies’. The audience loves these anecdotes and look at one another scandalised and amused, whooping at familiar names.
Lure’s set opens with ‘One Track Mind’. It’s an abrasive, exhilarating three minutes. The crowd enjoy it so much, they request him to play it again. He asks whether they have dementia. Age is another running joke in Lure’s set, the audience being largely, though not exclusively, old-ish, vaping punks. He makes fun of them, and himself, often. ‘Here’s a slow one for all the oldies’, he says, introducing ‘Seven Day Weekend’, ‘there are more here now than ever’.
Lure is a prolific, excellent songwriter. ‘Chinese Rock’ is received with air punches. Everybody pogoes wildly for ‘Get Off the Phone’. Tonight he’s ably backed by Gunfire Dance. They note to the crowd that Lure keeps messing with the set list. We’re trying to keep up, they say. He calls them robots.
When Lure and the band conclude, covering, ‘Do you love me?’ the audience invades the stage, ecstatic. Like everybody else there, I could listen to Lure’s stories, his randomly affected English accent, and his music, for way longer. Unfortunately there are time constraints. ‘What the hell is that about?’ Lure asks as he exits.