The Ramonas – Voodoo, Belfast
“The Ramones did 15 songs in 15 minutes, and it was great” recalls Everett True of a seeing the band live in his book, “Hey Ho Let’s Go: The Story of The Ramones”. Listening to the recorded, 3 minute long versions of their songs then, is something of a different experience. That The Ramones played at breakneck speeds live has since become a simple fact. Recreating such a pace, is, well, not so simple.
In little over an hour though, The Ramonas managed to effortlessly and expertly power through two entire albums while throwing in a few extras for good measure.
But the night didn’t consist entirely of renditions of the fast four’s extensive back catalogue. Between them, support acts A.R.S.E and The Craic blasted through punk classics by The Clash, Dead Kennedys and The Ruts to name but a few. It was appreciatively lapped up by the crowd in Voodoo as dancing began early in the night. When The Ramonas took to the stage, this soon gave way enthusiastic po-go bouncing and raised fists from band and fans alike.
Emerging to an eerie wall of feedback it is immediately obvious that The Ramonas are a Ramones tribute act. From “Rhonny” Ramona’s Mosrite, to “Cloey’s” long hair and leather jacket, the all-girl tribute band looked like they had descended from the men themselves. Each member of The Ramonas instinctively seemed to imitate the posture and movements of their punk rock counterpart. More importantly though, they could all play like them too.
The Ramonas played The Ramones 1977 album “Rocket To Russia” with an abundance of energy, not pausing for breath between songs. Or really, I should say albums, as they power through into 1978’s “Road To Ruin” with similar exuberance. The Ramonas are as fun to watch as they are to listen to; their energy is infectious. They are slick, professional and punk rock all at once.
Despite their ferocious playing style, time is still pushed as the night draws to a close. Regardless, the audience is still treated to a four song encore which includes a rendition of Happy Birthday to one lucky individual stage front and centre, making a nod to The Ramones “appearance” on an episode of The Simpsons. He then is pulled up on stage to sing “Blitzkreig Bop” with the band; as close as anyone will get from here on to living out what I’m sure would be a dream come true for many a Ramones fan.
“Pinhead” closes set and sees an appearance from the pinhead character whom the Ramones would bring on stage themselves amidst cries of their famous “Gabba Gabba Hey” refrain. The Ramonas have been referred to as the premier Ramones tribute band, and it’s not difficult to see why. Little details like these elevate their set above one of simple Ramones covers. They know how the band play, not just what they play, making for more than just a fun night of listening to songs you know, but a fully-fledged punk rock gig. The Ramonas did over 2 albums worth of material in little over an hour, and it was great.