Back in the 1970s a lot of greasy delinquents were getting their act together. Sickened by overblown prog, disheartened by the Rolling Stones and the Who’s retreat from their dangerous roots, they liked the New York Dolls, Iggy Pop and garage rock. Shunned by the more reputable performing venues they knocked out what was to become tagged as punk rock in strip clubs and dives like the Rotter’s Den.

Thirty or so years later Ottawa’s self-proclaimed “first and only punk rock band” has returned to the stage. The Action - no relation to the 1960 British act that transformed into Mighty Baby - took Canada’s capital by storm and were promptly banned by the city’s Board of Education for lascivious onstage acts. Their 12-inch EP was greeted by one reviewer with the putdown “as an artistic statement it ranks well below ‘Mein Kampf’.”
The band splintered over the usual creative differences and record label trouble, with frontman Ted Axe moving to the U.S., but various members have kept their hands in the local music scene. Guitarist Paul Phantom - a.k.a. Paul Fenton - is a noted local slide guitarist.

With Axe’s return to Ottawa, and at least one area band covering the band’s music, it seemed like an opportune time to reconvene. After a pair of highly successful reunion shows in November, the band has tried to once again make it as a going concern, with the quintet taking the band’s still-vivacious show to Montreal and Toronto as well as future Ottawa dates.

Once again The Dominion Tavern played host to the band (as it has to other reunited Ottawa punk combos like Porcelain Forehead and the Bureaucrats).

Instead of an opening band, a burlesque group kicks the evening off. The Sin Sisters performed a series of short skits for the hooting and hollering crowd (split about evenly between men and women, it should be noted), all of which concluded with the various sisters in panties and pasties.

The crowd had thinned somewhat by the time the Action had taken the stage. The other two Phantom brothers John and Michael and new recruit Glenn Russell on drums joining Paul and Ted.

Despite the passage of thirty years, the band’s members are still in remarkable shape. John can still fit into his leather pants, Paul into a befrogged military jacket, while Ted can till wear mascara, a top hat and leather trenchcoat without embarrassment.

The thing that’s changed the most in the past 30 years, it seems, is the band’s musicianship as a storming version of ‘Do the Strangle’ demonstrates. The band quickly segues into 'Downtown Boy', Ted’s tale of a transvestite encounter, before their first cover, the Velvet Underground’s ‘Waiting For the Man’.

Ted Axe lived up to his reputation as a lascivious lead singer, stuck one of the stripper’s castaway shoes down the front of his pants and occasionally paused to lick Paul’s guitar. In between songs, he harangued the audience for its relative inactivity and the city for its general lameness and lack of punk rock attitude.

By the time their set was concluded, with a cover of the Rolling Stones’ 'Midnight Rambler', one long-suffering, green-mohawked punk could take no more. The band’s encore turned into some verbal sparring between Axe and the punker-than-thou audience member who was finally removed from the stage by the doorman after he attempted to hijack one of the microphones.
The show couldn’t be called a 100% success, but between Axe’s antics, the band’s hard-charging rock and the final meltdown, one couldn’t deny the band’s punk cred is still in place.

Set List:

Do the Strangle
Downtown Boy
Waiting For the Man
Success Without College
Aryan Love
All the Way
House Boy
Long Distance
Zona Rosa
Seafood Mama
Pressed Pig
Mr. T
Back In Action
Midnight Rambler

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Commenting On: Dominion Theatre, Ottawa, 5/6/2010 - Action

ie London, England

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19389 Posted By: John Clarkson (Edinburgh)

Thanks for pointing that out, Ted. We've now fixed that mistake


19387 Posted By: ted axe (hottawa)

Nice un!!! Hey i think it shud read ted axe paused to LICK Pauls guitar!!!cheers!Ted Axe

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