Home #Hwoodtimes NUGGETS: A 50th Anniversary All-Star Celebration

NUGGETS: A 50th Anniversary All-Star Celebration

Concert Review by Ethlie Ann Vare

Wayne Kramer (photo: THT/Ethlie Ann Vare)

GLENDALE, CA (The Hollywood Times, May 19) 5/21/23 – Calling the Nuggets anniversary jam a “once-in-a-generation” event undersells it. It was a once in two generations event, with both the original 1960s artists performing their original releases, plus covers of the instantly recognizable material by beloved 1980s bands who were inspired by it. On top of that you had mashups of the two, like when Wayne Kramer of the MC5 absolutely shredded “Baby Please Don’t Go” alongside Alarm vocalist Mike Peters, or when the Cars’ Elliot Easton played guitar with the Count Five on “Psychotic Reaction.”

Lenny Kaye (photo: Susan Moll)

You can already hear the songs in your head, can’t you? These “artyfacts from the first psychedelic era” (as they were cheekily called) were originally compiled in 1972 by a then 26-year-old Lenny Kaye from the vaults of Elektra Records. Kaye went on to become Patti Smith’s guitarist; Nuggets went on to be re-released by Sire Records and later Rhino Records and sells better today than it did when first released.

“It’s a nugget if you dug it,” said Kaye, introducing the show. “If I knew I would be standing on this stage half a century later… I would have fucked the record up from the pressure.”

The 50th anniversary celebration was planned for 2022 but suffered a slight delay due to, you know, the plague, and this is the first Wild Honey indoor concert since the pre-Covid Lovin’ Spoonful reunion https://hollywoodtimes.net/wild-honey-foundation-tribute-to-the-lovin-spoonful-at-the-alex-theater/  It’s amazing the people who will come out and play to support Wild Honey, a loose collective of musicians and music industry professionals which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity since it was founded in 1993, most recently dedicating its efforts to the Autism Health Care Collaborative.

Everyone in the industry comes out to support Wild Honey’s shows, too. The Alex Theatre in Glendale was packed — it was a boomergasm from start to 3 1/2-hours-later finish. I did chat with one 20something, but it turned out Dad was a Paley Brother, singing onstage with his sibling for the first time since 1978.

Weird Al Yankovic (photo: Susan Moll)

The scope of the evening was remarkable, and wrangling all these performers must have been a Herculean task. Credit musical directors Kaye, Rob Laufer, Andrew Sandoval and Darian Sahanaja for getting 65 musicians on and off the stage, mostly seamlessly, with each act doing only a song or two, mostly flawlessly. Luckily, with a set list comprising songs everyone already knows anyway, plus they are three minutes (if that) long and three chords (if that) wide… lengthy rehearsal time probably wasn’t vital.

James Lowe (photo by Ethlie Ann Vare)

These musicians are fans of one another. The standing ovation for original Electric Prune James Lowe’s full-voiced rendition of “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)” came from wings as much as from the audience. The excitement in Lenny Kaye’s voice when he got to play “Pushin’ Too Hard” with two original members of the Seeds was palpable. He says it was his favorite cut on Nuggets. But how do you decide between that and “Dirty Water,” or “Little Bit o’ Soul,” or “I Want Candy,” or “Hey, Joe” … you know you know the words.

Susanna Hoffs (photo: Susan Moll)

Age was nothing but a number Friday night: At 75, Wayne Kramer’s guitar riffs are as aggressive as they ever were. The Electric Prunes’ James Lowe is 80, and he sounds about the same as he did in 1966. The guest stars from the Bangles, the Gogo’s, R.E.M., the Cars… some of them are not even on Medicare yet. Susanna Hoffs did an incredible “I Want Candy,” and Tom (Sponge Bob) Kenny displayed a surprising falsetto on “Liar, Liar.”

When’s the last time Count Five’s Kenn Ellner put on his Dracula cape and played the “Psychotic Reaction” harmonica break to 1,400 people? Or the Chocolate Watchband’s David Aguilar got to show off those tight striped pants in a spotlight? Johnny Echols of Love got a standing ovation just for surviving into the 21st century.

Dedicated to Sire’s late Seymour Stein and Rhino’s late Gary Stewart (Elektra’s Jac Holzman, 91, is still with us), the evening was fast-paced, vibrant and nostalgic, full of good music, good spirits, and good memories. It ended with the entire Wild Honey Orchestra onstage for a rousing rendition of “the national anthem of garage rock,” as Kaye called it, “Gloria.” Come on, sing it with me: “Gloria, G-L-O-R-I-A, GLOW-ree-ya….” The 3 1/2 hours could easily have gone on longer except, you know, we’re old now and its bedtime.




A Benefit Concert for the Autism Healthcare Collaborative

Featuring: Lenny Kaye, Susanna Hoffs, Peter Buck), “Weird Al” Yankovic, Elliot Easton, Johnny Echols, James Lowe, The Count Five, Jim Pons, David Aguilar, Billy Vera, Ron Dante, The Three O’Clock, Evie Sands, Peter Zaremba, Peter Case, Carla Olson, Kathy Valentine, Tom Kenny, and more

May 19, 2023

The Alex Theatre

216 N Brand

Glendale, CA