By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
All this drama and history left the packed house in Brooklyn drooling. Backed by his faithful '70s'80s trio the Explosives, his hour-long set reviewed his solo years, including only two Elevators tunes (what other '60s legend besides Stevie Wonder could rely on his later work without pissing off a crowd?). With Roky only adding a pleasant "thank you" at each song's end, guitarist Cam King played de facto emcee, cramming as many guitar breaks as he could into each song, mugging for both Roky and the audience.
But what made the show was Roky's presence and intensity. When he played a lead, it was simply awe-inspiringon the (self-referential?) "The Beast Is Coming," he juiced a stinging, sharp line of notes with feedback, and unleashed a wild torrent of Elmore James slide noise at the start of "Before You Accuse Me." Even more penetrating were his grim face and unearthly, shrieking voice. Brimming with conviction like a fire-breathing minister, his cold, hard eyestopped by thick, menacing browspeered straight past the audience like they weren't even there. Even if he couldn't communicate much otherwise, Roky shouted the lyrics as if they were permanently burned into his brain. That's what keeps the '50s Cold War paranoia of his self-proclaimed "horror rock" from sounding like corny goth shtick. More like fellow troubled Texan Daniel Johnston and the also troubled Sly Stone (circa "Thank You") than Robert Johnson, Roky savors a good rumble with the devil himself, even if it means he sometimes gets his ass kicked.
Dangerous bravado notwithstanding, his unlikely comeback continues. Cheers greeted the opening riff to "Bermuda" (as in the devil's triangle). Dozens of voices joined him on the chorus of "Creature With the Atom Brain." And the heavily requested "Bloody Hammer" got a smile even out of Roky himself, leading up to the excitement of the inevitable "You're Gonna Miss Me." At show's end, he retreated to the back to graciously sign memorabilia. All in a night's work now for a one-man axis of evil.