[Live] Dead Men Walking at The Troubadour 09.14.14

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Fred Armisen’s taste in music is just as eclectic and academic as his immense comedic presence.

Sunday night at the Troubadour showcased Dead Men Walking, Armisen’s newly assembled supergroup, for a one-time performance. Armisen noted that the assembled musicians were selected by importance to his formative years of record buying as well as importance to music history as a whole.

Featuring the Portlandia star himself, Slim Jim Phantom, Duff McKagan, Mike Peters of The Alarm, Chris Cheney of The Living End and Captain Sensible of The Damned, it’s as if Armisen had a premonition years ago while spinning vinyl that these rock pioneers would gel together on stage perfectly.

Mike Peters acted as de facto leader of the Dead Men, leading the crowd into rousing covers of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “I Fought The Law.” It was worth it alone to see Peters wail on his acoustic and break strings more than once while screaming along to his hits.

Slim Jim and Captain Sensible had a great rapport on stage, having been on the same tour circuit back in the day. Slim’s drumming and Sensible’s bass were top-notch throughout the entirety of the show. Boy, can Slim drum. (It was a treat to have now seen both Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom sing “Rock This Town”, though I’m upset I’ve yet to see Brian Setzer and complete the trifecta of Cats who Strayed.)

Duff and Cheney were both excellent in their own right, although incredibly reserved all night. Cheney spoke only to sing Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” while Duff muttered only to acknowledge that he had indeed co-written “Sweet Child o’ Mine” when the band covered it.


Out sauntered Armisen in full regalia, sneering and cursing at the crowd in true form of his SNL character. Ian Rubbish sized the crowd up and spit saying, “It’s ok, I can spit, I’m punk rock.”


Armisen was curator of the lot, traveling from backstage to the forefront every few songs. It was clear that Armisen wanted the bulk of attention to fall on the musicians that had graciously accepted his invitation to jam rather than make himself the focal point of the night. Armisen and Captain Sensible played a haunting rendition of The Damned’s “Life Goes On,” a number with an eerie similarity to “Come As You Are.”

Rounding out the set with the famed Damned number “Smash It Up,” it was clear from the group’s presence (and the set list staring right at me) that we were only halfway through the night.

As expected, the encore began with the aforementioned Stray Cats number, with Peters looking very reverent as it finished. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he announced. “Los Angeles is all about guests, so please welcome, straight from 1977, Mr. Ian Rubbish!”

Out sauntered Armisen in full regalia, sneering and cursing at the crowd in true form of his SNL character. Ian Rubbish sized the crowd up and spit saying, “It’s ok, I can spit, I’m punk rock.”

Rubbish performed his three songs established on SNL at the end of the 12-13 season, including the hilariously tongue-in cheek “Mrs. Thatcher.”

“There’s a leader back home and her name is Maggie Thatcher,” said Rubbish to a sea of booing. “No, no, you don’t get it – she works really hard and is, like, a human being so we have to respect her, ok?”

Rubbish left the stage after his tune, “Lovely Night,” dropping his guitar and mentioning that he was going to go find Montgomery Clift.

Finding it difficult to top a rare Rubbish performance, the remaining Dead Men ended strong with a perfectly anthemic “You’ve Got To Fight For Your Right To Party.” Though unexpected, it seemed the perfect number to wrap up a night of dedication to rock.


Born and raised on classic rock and oldies, Jake Tully consumed music voraciously growing up in Central California. He has his wonderful grandparents to thank for his love of music, as well as the amazing luck to have seen hundreds of concerts in his lifetime. He considers himself an eclectic consumer of all media, and further reading can be found at his blog.

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