Ex-Velvet Underground Drummer Moe Tucker Makes Like Bo Diddley

Set included rocking version of '50s rock-legend's signature namesake song.

HOBOKEN, N.J. -- Just call her Moe Diddley.

Maureen "Moe" Tucker, the former drummer of the legendary '60s band Velvet

Underground, strapped on a guitar Monday and slammed out a rocking set here that

recalled the fire and fury of '50s rock titan Bo Diddley.

Making the comparison even closer, Tucker's performance, at the popular local club

Maxwell's, even included a rendition of "Bo Diddley," her idol's namesake song, which

came with the original's singular beat and chugging guitar chords.

But there was more to Tucker's music than the esteemed Diddley sound. Backed by a

band comprised of drummer John Sluggett, guitarist Greg Beshers and bassist Matt

Kohut, Tucker delved into a series of idiosyncratic originals and songs from her days with

the Velvets.

The hour-long show began with the loud but amiable "Hey Mersh!" and a version of "I

Wanna" that was far tougher than the rendition on her 1994 album, Dogs Under

Stress.

Dressed in a casual, button-down shirt, white turtleneck and dark jeans, her face framed

by a pair of small, round glasses, Tucker transformed herself into a convincing punk

shouter.

At times, she actually came close to a snarl as her band slugged out meaty beats and

beefy chords behind her.

The rocking numbers, often backed by a Diddley-esque beat, were countered at various

points by slow, tender songs, including two of Tucker's Velvet Underground vocal turns:

"After Hours" and "I'm Sticking With You."

Her version of the Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes," originally sung by Lou Reed,

was a highlight of the performance.

The song built from an achingly soft ballad -- with Tucker strumming gently and Kohut

plucking simple, mellow basslines behind her -- to a forceful, percussive finale, as

drummer Sluggett struck resonant beats with his drum mallets, wielding them much the

way Tucker did hers with the Velvets.

Requests for other VU songs, however, were casually dismissed. When one fan asked

for "What Goes On," Tucker replied jokingly, "Who was that? You? We'll talk after the

show."

The rest of the set featured selections drawn from Tucker's solo career, including "Talk

So Mean" from 1989's Life in Exile After Abdication, and "S.O.S.," from 1991's I

Spent a Week There the Other Night.

She also performed one new, unreleased number: "Last Night," about the 1995 death of

her friend and former VU guitarist, Sterling Morrison. The mid-tempo elegy was lyrically

simple ("Last night, I saw his face and I cried/ Last night, I wiped the tears from my eyes")

but all the more sad and affecting for it.

Finally, near the end of her show, Tucker removed her glasses and promptly swung her

way into "Bo Diddley."

It was a fairly faithful rendition of the original, save for her high-pitched, creaky warble. In

the middle of it all, she brought the beats and chords to a whisper before roaring back to

close the song.

Hoboken-resident Kat Francisco, 23, said she enjoyed the show, despite never having

heard Tucker's solo work before.

Following the performance of the most searing original of the night, "Fired Up," Francisco

summed up her response to Tucker:

"I hope when I'm over 50, I can still rock like that."