Replacement singers get a pretty bad rap, just ask any of the 50 lead singers of the Dead Kennedys that aren’t named Biafra. Hell, the war over whether Michael Graves has a right to call himself the singer of The Misfits still leaves casualties, years after he gave up the spot.
So it was particularly disconcerting when The Germs announced that they filled the lead singer spot — once held by the legendary and long dead Darby Crash —with the guy who played Darby Crash in a Germs docudrama. I had my reservations, but I went to the show because the reviews were fairly positive and I had never seen Crash live (Decline of Western Civilization footage aside), so I had nothing to compare him to.
The Germs did not disappoint. Actor or not, Shane West more than held his own with bandmates more than twice his age. Guitarist Pat Smear, bassist Lorna Doom and drummer Don Bolles were all smiles as they plowed through a set of classic and later-day Germs tunes. The crowd with enthralled with the music, regardless of who was singing it, and that pretty much says it all. Great songs are great songs; it doesn’t matter who’s singing them.