VIDEO/REVIEW: Psycho Nurse delivers deadly dose of theatrical and thought-provoking punk
As the show is nearing its end, while the wife and I are documenting it for the band through both video and photos, it dawns on me that I’m still not fully sure what I just saw. Psycho Nurse is ripping into “The Time Warp,” the classic hit from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and as I step back from my camera to take it all in, I see the crowd is dancing and having a great time everywhere. At their tables, on the staircases, and on the dance floor, people are having the time of their lives as they celebrate this longtime-coming reunion of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s premiere theatrical punk band from the ‘80s.
“The Time Warp,” only the second cover song of a night packed with Psycho Nurse original songs, couldn’t be more fitting. As we continue to film this reunited band, with members from different eras of the group’s many lineups, it seems as if they never stepped off the stage of CBGB’s during their heyday run. The band is tight, the vocals are crisp, and the songs are still as fun and deviously dirty as they always were.
For those of you not too familiar with the band, as I was the night I shot them, let me give you some brief history. At a Halloween party in 1985, at the home of Head Nurse Roxie Pauline, a group of friends and musicians thought up the concept of Psycho Nurse. Taking ideas from what was going on culturally and politically, the band set out to bring their thoughts on these matters to the public in a way that would shatter your senses. Combining lyrics that were offensive, yet always humorous and thought-provoking, with excellent musicianship, Psycho Nurse led the “theatrical punk” scene.
While born in Scranton, Psycho Nurse took their show on the road, playing to rabid fans everywhere, including the famous CBGB’s in New York City and even opening for the Ramones on many occasions. Their run lasted for six years, and when they finally dissolved after many lineup changes, it was not because of band issues, a label, or money problems, but because sometimes “life just gets in the way.”
For decades, talk of reunions came up. With some of the core band members scattered across the country, this was not as simple as it sounded. Finally, though, through the beauty of social media, the band started talking about the upcoming 30th anniversary. In 2014, they decided to get together in their hometown of Scranton to bring Psycho Nurse back.
So, here we are now going through that time warp again, as the fruits of their long overdue labor have come to pass. The Midlife Crisis Tour kicked off in Wilkes-Barre at the F.M. Kirby Center in the Chandelier Lobby on Oct. 24, 2015, and the show was opened and hosted by the hilarious, raucous, and sometimes insulting Mama Sophie Tucker; a more perfect choice as emcee of the night could not have been made. Sophie wound up the crowd with her “dirty old bar broad” style of comedy and performance, having them on the edge of their seats for the main attraction.
The band took the stage as smoke and lights set the scene for the Nurses to enter from the back of the theater to a roar of applause. After a brief welcome to the crowd by Head Nurse Roxie, the band tore into one their most memorable classics, “Brain Rot.”
On this night, Psycho Nurse included original members as well as members from other incarnations of the band. That night, it was comprised of Nurse Roxie, Nurse Raven Madd, Dr. BB, Nurse Ricki Rachett, and Nurse Julia Oh on vocals; Mike Draper on vocals and guitar; Dave Colizzo and Charlie Russello on guitar; Robbie Owens on drums; and Fred Stuccio on bass.
Psycho Nurse is the epitome of what a live band should be. Their show combines great songs with a vaudevillian flair that both entertains and sparks some deep thought. There’s nothing wrong with having fun while maybe picking up on a social message or two, and a Psycho Nurse show is the show to do that at. Mixing humorous tunes like “The Farting Nun” (as I’m sure we’ve all shared that experience before) with socially challenging songs that hold just as true today as when they were written, like “Psycho on the Roof,” the band takes you through past experiences in your life – some you might not talk about in public so much, like “My Baby’s Some Kind of a Pig” and crowd favorite “Cuntlapper,” and some you should talk about more, like “Third Party Slander” and “Teenage Girls.”
The night had a few glitches, which were to be expected from any band that hasn’t performed live in two decades, but they were quickly and professionally handled. You really couldn’t have gotten a better show, even if you’d seen them in their prime.
Psycho Nurse is set to embark on a national tour, with more dates to be announced soon. For now, check out the promo video we shot from the reunion show, as well as the photos from my wife, Carol Jones, and get ready for their strong return. Just when you thought it was safe… Psycho Nurse is back and better than ever.
by Ken Jones
Ken has been a photographer for over 15 years; his specialties include nature and live music photography and video. His work has been featured in ION Indie Magazine and many local publications.