MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer is heading to the UK in November on the latest leg of his Kick Out The Jams 50th Anniversary Tour.
The MC50 tour features a host of top musicians, including Soundgarden axeman Kim Thayil, drummers Brendan Canty (Fugazi) and Matt Cameron (Pearl Jam), with bass from Faith No More‘s Billy Gould. Vocals will be supplied by Marcus Durant of Blues rockers Zen Guerrilla.
Guest appearances are also expected from Afghan Whigs‘ Greg Dulli and Kramer’s fellow Detroit musician and producer Don Was of Was Not Was.
The tour celebrates the 50th anniversary of MC5’s incendiary debut album Kick Out The Jams and coincides with the release of Kramer’s memoir The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5, and My Life of Impossibilities.
Kicking off in Bristol on 9 November, the band play four UK dates, before a string of European shows, culminating with a performance in Antwerp, Belgium, on 1 December.
Kramer says he’s particularly looking forward to playing in England again.
I will come to England, where some of the greatest live shows of my life were performed in the MC5, to play Kick Out The Jams again with these great musicians. Doing so is the best possible tribute to the legacy. To borrow from Claude Lanzmann [French filmmaker], there will be ‘No Retirement and No Retreat’. Let’s rock.”
The band will play Kick Out The Jams in its entirety and follow up with an encore of MC5 material that will change every night.
Widely recognised as one of the best albums to emerge from the 1960s counter-culture, the MC5’s debut was recorded live in front of a wild hometown audience on Halloween night in 1968.
The band would go on to make just two more albums, but like The Sex Pistols they remain an enduring influence on countless musicians who followed in their wake.
But don’t go expecting a slavish re-tread of the album, Kramer says the MC50 have much more to offer than that.
This band will rip your head off. It’s real, raw, sweaty, total energy rock and roll, like a bunch of 40-to-70-year-old punks on a meth power trip. I’m not interested in a note-for-note reproduction of a record you’ve known your entire life. The world has lived with these songs burned in amber for half a century, so we’re going for an energy blast to end all. Let’s bring the monster back to life with supremely talented musicians who will interpret it in their own unique ways.”
Kramer says the radical politics of the MC5 are just as relevant now as they were in 1968, when the band played at a riotous Democratic Party Convention and the US was trying to extricate itself from the war in Vietnam.
““Today, there is a corrupt regime in power, an endless war thousands of miles away, uncontrollable violence wracking my country — it’s becoming less and less clear if we’re talking about 1968 or 2018. I’m compelled to share this music I created with my brothers 50 years ago. My goal is that the audience leaves these shows mesmerized by the positive power of rock music,” says Kramer. “I’ve come to accept that we were a dangerous band. The music we made at that time represented something that said — we are part of a tribe, we are part of a bigger movement — and apparently it still represents that.”
In his book Kramer chronicles his abusive childhood, his discovery of music through artists like Chuck Berry and the Yardbirds, and the beginnings of the MC5.
It’s an extraordinary story of a band which mixed sex, drugs and rock’n’roll with the Far Left anti-racist politics of the White Panther Party.
There’s FBI surveillance, drugs busts, jail time and battles with addiction, along with first time fatherhood at the age of 65.
Named by Rolling Stone as one of the top 100 guitarists of all time, Kramer is also the founder, with Billy Bragg, of the charity Jail Guitar Doors USA, which works to rehabilitate prison inmates by helping them to express themselves positively through music.
“People come up to me all the time and say, ‘Brother Wayne, Kick Out the Jams changed my life,’” Kramer says of the album that made his name. “I usually tell them: ‘I’m sorry, I can’t change it back.’”