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THE SPIRIT OF 1968 -- 50 YEARS ON!


Reflections on
The Last Internationale

When the eponymous Stooges album was released, the first track on the A side was “1969,” on which Iggy Stooge (Pop) proclaimed: “Well it’s 1969 OK all across the USA/It’s another year for me and you/Another year with nothing to do,” with a snotty sense of ultimate boredom and futility at changing the status quo. By contrast, The Last Internationale--who burned the house down a few years back, in 2014, at a criminally under-attended performance at Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara --want to take us back to the earth shattering year 1968. More exactly, they want to remind us that “1968” as a concept is huge! For it was the year of revolution when human rights protests sprang up globally; when the old guard was ushered out by the students in solidarity with the workers in France; the Prague Spring occurred as a rebuke to the USSR in the former Czechoslovakia; East German students demanded the removal of government officials with Nazi pasts; and students put their lives on the line for their principles against corrupt regimes in Mexico, China, Italy, Brazil, Argentina, and the good ol’ USA... as well as elsewhere. And that concept of 1968 never entirely died.

Prague Spring --1968

Situationist art from Paris --May ‘68

Indeed, Tiananmen Square, The Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, The Dreamers, and other human rights movements, remind us that the ghost of ‘68, as well as the ghost of the Great Depression (as incarnated by Tom Joad, John Steinbeck’s disenfranchised, working class protagonist from The Grapes of Wrath, with his speech of: “I’ll be around in the dark--I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look--wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin in the houses they build--I’ll be there, too.”) is alive and well. And that ghost periodically takes form, when the people have had enough. And that spirit of the people fighting for justice suffuses the political outlook and music of The Last Internationale. 

The cover to John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath

Focusing mainly on the material from their debut album on Epic, We Will Reign, the band ruled the night. Sensual singer Delila Paz owned the stage like a bad-ass, bass-wielding incandescent she-panther with panache, while axeman extraordinaire Edgey Pires and Rage Against the Machine’s persuasive percussionist Brad Wilk kicked out the jams. With their breathtaking performances of the title track, as well as “Wanted Man,” for which Paz switched to guitar, “Killing Fields” and “Fire,” the band easily won over the audience.

The Last International circa 2014 --when Brad Wilk was the band's drummer.

They then switched it up with an a cappella rendering of the old blues standard “Oh, Berta, Berta,” on which Paz’s lead vocal mixed with Wilk’s backup vocal, harmonized hauntingly. They also did an impressive impromptu cover of Neil Young’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Will Never Die,” in honor of having recently opened for the legend. Before closing the evening with “1968,” --during the performance of which, Edgey, guitar blazing, jumped off stage and merged with the audience-- the band dedicated the tune to the people of Ferguson, Missouri, in solidarity against police brutality-- and to remind us that 1968 is still relevant now and that real, bottom-up change is possible...perhaps even inevitable!

- Sean Mageean
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