Live: The Dirtbombs Bring Detroit To The Bell House


The Dirtbombs
The Bell House
Saturday, June 4

Better than: Playing air guitar to your favorite dance 12-inches.

A friend recently opined that Mick Collins should just be given the money to pursue any damn idea that comes into his head. While it’s true that sometimes his ideas outstrip their execution, the longer he goes, the better he understands his limits and plays to his strengths. Part of the reason the Dirtbombs’ version of A Number of Names’ proto-techno Detroit hit “Sharevari” works so well is that Collins can just go ahead and sound like a robot instead of straining, and when they do “Good Life” he can sound like he’s singing in the shower, just like anyone else who loves the Inner City original might do.

On Saturday the Dirtbombs reprised their recent set at Detroit’s Movement Festival, where they opened with a walloping 30-minute medley (or is that DJ mix?) of material from Party Store, their surprisingly resonant recasting of their hometown’s techno and house classics. With a sliver of Innerzone Orchestra’s “Bug in the Bass Bin” acting as connecting tissue (better in four one-minute chunks here than in the CD’s 20-plus-at-once), the squalling remakes of Rhythim Is Rhythim’s “Strings of Life” and Cybotron’s “Cosmic Cars” took on a force that belied their obvious novelty.

Collins glowed bright in his red top, and his cool-daddy-o shades couldn’t mask his giddy grin as he swung his hips and guitar around during the set’s non-Party Store half. “Motor City Baby” was sassy and inviting, just like the frontman’s moves. Ditto his guitar-hero poses during the encore’s climactic “I Can’t Stop Thinking About It.” The band orchestrated a grand finish: drummer Ben Blackwell and Collins left the stage, then baritone guitarist Ko Melina and new bassist Chris Sutton, leaving Pat Pantano alone at his kit before the others came back for a brief cymbal bash. Enter with a flourish, leave with a flourish.

Critical bias: Mick Collins was a total sweetie the two times I’ve interviewed him on the phone.

Random notebook dump: “Collins, introducing ‘Surround Us with Sirens’: ‘This is a song about Detroit.’ Aren’t they all?”