Anyone who has listened to The Runaways, is aware of Joan Jett or Lita Ford, has ever heard those words ‘hello dad, hello mum!’ or simply anyone who lived through or listened to the ’70s will be aware of Cherie Currie. Finding worldwide fame as a teenager can’t be easy, but here she is at The Underworld and in her fifth decade within one of the most unforgiving industries there is.
The Underworld, Camden – 27 March 2023
Words: Monty Sewell
Photography: Antonio Giannattasio
With her fierce style and finger-flipping attitude, Currie became an icon within the rock world and continues to this day to inspire artists to embody everything rad about those early days of heavy rock mania.
Tonight she plays on the last leg of her UK tour before the – final – release of her album Blvds of Splendor. It took 13 years and a heck of a lot of legal work to get the record out, and so tonight promises a plethora of Currie fuelled memories wrapped in the cloth of a hard-done, hard-rocking singer.
The reason why we all came tonight strides onstage to the roar of a cheering crowd. Cherie Currie and all the nostalgic rock ‘n’ roll splendour she brings with her has arrived. With a full four-piece band behind her and a back catalogue to make any enthusiast ask, “I wonder what she’s going to play?” we knew we were in for a treat.
Currie immediately thanks the audience for her welcome, immediately wrapping us in the warm sense we’re in good hands for the night. With a punch of her fist and a snap stick beat-in from the drums, Currie and her band launch into Queens Of Noise. As Currie says midway through, “I mean, come on, The Runaways were a really great band.” So, much to the joy of her crowd, we also get California Paradise from The Runaway’s collection, to which the room sings along as Currie smiles with joy through her snares.
From the Blvds Of Splendour album, we get Roxy Roller, Mr X, and You Wreck Me. Mr X was co-written by Slash and Duff McKagan, and although you can hear those undeniable Slash influences in the guitar elements of the song, it’s Currie’s better-than-ever vocals which here snatch all the attention with its sultry, guttural power.
By now, the venue is filled to the brim with red leather and done-up hairdos covering every inch of the place. There’s a real mixture of ages and styles, from the timid to the whacky, all congregating to capture something of everything Cherie Currie has been through and is.
We get a cover of The Velvet Underground’s Rock & Roll before another Runaways classic, Is It Day Or Night. In between the charisma laden back and forth banter from Curie about Lita Ford’s distaste for her writing all those years ago or the way she parted with her previous label Black Heart Records, she takes a moment to remember her late brother, who passed just ten days before this tour began.
She sings a cover of David Bowie’s Life On Mars with Blue Ruin’s Louisa Baker joining her onstage on the keys. We sometimes forget even the strongest of rockers go through their own hardship, and this mid-set lighter-to-the-sky moment is the perfect effigy to a loved one gone.
The last stretch of the set is a sweet run of The Runaways. Midnight Music (written by Currie herself), Heartbeat, American Night’s, C’mon and, of course, the infamous Cherry Bomb align themselves perfectly with everything Currie and her fans embody.
Blue Ruin and Gretchen Bonaduce are invited up to sing with Currie for the last song, but it’s without a doubt an entire venue sing-a-long as drinks are thrown and waving arms stretched in the air.
Cherie Currie is most certainly only at the beginning of whatever gloriousness is about to come. Stage presence? Top form. Vocals? Undeniably good. Songwriting? Better than ever.
The full package? It’s like everything we were missing this whole time.
But the real highlight was hearing what she had to say in between the songs, all those stories she has is quite hard to comprehend happening to just one person, but Currie has done it all and lived to tell the tale. A rock ‘n’ roll queen with enough attitude to flip Axl Rose behind the curtain.
Here’s to the trajectory continuing to shoot up.