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Personality Crisis: One Night Only Review

Other forms of art lend themselves to the discovery of equally challenging, entertaining fields. That is the cross-platform variety, the universal overlap and pull that should enlighten viewers. Personality Crisis: One Night Only does just that. Everyone should have a personality crisis, as a treat. Whether that is changing up what you wear, misrepresenting how you feel through a series of convoluted manoeuvres that lead you to moving out or just trying something new. Sometimes all three apply. For David Johansen, the former Mick Jagger-looking proto-punk turned glow-up groove hero that could shout out the best of the bunch, it is unclear what he needs. Martin Scorsese charts the need for change and change again. Two-hit wonder is no legacy. Johansen challenges that here. 

Convincingly so, the life and works of the man behind New York Dolls is an incredibly important discovery. Scorsese takes to the streets of New York, as he so often does with his documentary work, and paints a vivid picture of its unsung heroes. Sometimes he goes for the bigger names, as he did with Bob Dylan, but as of late, he finds himself fixated on those that left their mark on The Big Apple and did not receive the global stardom style they were suited for. Fran Leibowitz and now Johansen. David Tedeschi co-directs alongside Scorsese for the second time, and the pair doing well to determine the state of play and direction. Pompadour stunner Johansen has lived the life and still does. He looks better here and now, his act still strong and his voice lending itself to the underground that now gleefully houses him. 

Café Carlyle gains a quality performance from a legacy artist, and a legacy is picked apart with some brutal honesty. Spotty in places where it cannot afford to cut away from the live set, and when it does, it is up to the audience to figure out where they would rather be. Much of the time, it is the live performance, the stunning, strong condition Johansen’s voice is in, that takes centre stage. Rightly so. There is something so sincere, so comforting and intimate, about recording an intimate gig in this style. Jarvis Cocker and Nick Cave have each received that experience from the helpful hands of Jane Pollard Iain Forsyth. Scorsese and Tedeschi are a neat pairing, they dive deep into the history of New York Dolls and the dark days, as Morrissey describes them.  

Controversial characters are no surprise here. Turn off the senses and take it from the horse’s mouth. Morrissey and his like are important tools here, they were there for it and experienced the pop art world just as it was burning out and beating those who had fuelled the flame. Personality Crisis: One Night Only takes to the depths of the dive bars and post-impact of New York Dolls and describes it with earnestness and honest detail. It is rare to find a way to the core of influence, power and desire when half the people that were there for it died at the peak and the other half do not wish to relive their past lives. Personality Crisis: One Night Only is an artist daring to look back when he desperately does not want or need to. Johansen does this for the benefit of setting the record straight, for the advantage of those at home, who now know why artists desperately wish to succeed with their latest venture. It takes them away from what they are not. 

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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