City Slang: Dick Wagner rolls back the years at the Bag

This week’s City Slang column star, the mighty Dick Wagner, lived up to his billing and put on a tremendous show at the Magic Bag in Ferndale last night. He might be advancing in years, he might not be able to move around the stage too much, but his recent recovery from a series of health issues hasn’t hindered his ability to play like the rock royalty that he is.

He certainly put together a great, and family-orientated, band that included former SRC man Ray Goodman on guitar and Parliament / Funkadelic bassist Prakash John, plus Wagner’s son Robert on vocals and John’s son on the drums. It wasn’t just a an exercise in compassion either – those boys can sing and hit (even if the younger Wagner, based in Texas, dresses as if he’s spent a little too much time outside of the D).

The music couldn’t be faulted. The set covered all of the key periods in Wagner’s career, from Frost to Ursa Major, from Lou Reed to Alice Cooper.

And so we were treated to such rock ’n’ roll classics as “Only Women Bleed”, “I Never Cry”, “Sweet Jane” and “Sweet Lady Love”.

There were smiles all round on stage, and an obvious sense of relief to be back performing. But there were a few moments when he really got into a solo or a riff, when the years literally fell off him and he could have been 40 years younger, back at the Grande on a bill with Mitch Ryder and the MC5. It was a special night.

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