Ostensibly promoting the Elektra retrospective “Beyond and Back,” X filled the Hollywood Palladium once again, but the hook this time wasn’t the new compilation, but the reunion of the band’s songwriters, John Doe and Exene Cervenkova, and punkabilly guitarist Billy Zoom. Judging by the audience’s fervid reaction when the leather-clad guitarist stepped out onstage, Zoom was indeed the star of the show.
For an hour and a half, the quintessential L.A. punk band pounded out songs from their first four records and generally lit up the considerably older-than-usual house. Reeling off one solipsistic anthem after another, from “Nausea” to “White Girl,” and climaxing with their first KROQ hit, “Los Angeles,” the group didn’t appear particularly rusty, probably owing to a pair of warm-ups in San Francisco.
If there were a downside to this slice of nostalgia, it would have to be the Palladium’s notorious acoustics. There was no discernible bass, vocals were overly pumped and Zoom’s rhythm’s were generally inaudible. Worse, Zoom solos sounded as if they were coming in through a side door. Too bad, because his spindling Chuck Berry/Scotty Moore lines were as on the money as ever.
Most strolls down memory lane are perfunctory at best, but given the band’s public stance that this was a one-time affair, the interaction between the band and crowd was extraordinary.