Fireworks

L.A. Guns http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/db/70/ff/LAG1-26-1510860620.jpg Hot

Added by James Gaden     November 16, 2017    
 
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L.A. Guns, Stone Trigger, Burnt Out Wreck, Neon Animal
London: Camden Underworld – 02 & 04 November 2017

Burnt Out Wreck open the first of the two nights with their top-notch AC/DC style Hard Rock. Starting to become more relaxed in the live environment – as they do more gigs as a line-up – there are some smiles around on stage which is nice to see, as well as some party tricks; guitar being played behind the head, finger-tapping and drumstick twirling – all great additions to the set. Gary Moat, formerly drummer of Heavy Pettin', is no slouch as a vocalist. This band also have so much to offer guitar wise as the solos literally burn through the still early evening air. The nice thing is that Moat appears without ego, thus allowing the other musicians to share the limelight. In short, thoroughly professional, testosterone-fuelled, pre-nineties, Angus Young influenced, high voltage Rock 'n' Roll.

Neon Animal, first support on the second night, are all Rolling Stones and Hanoi Rocks swagger and pretty boy effeminate charm. They also have killer songs like 'Kiss Like Dynamite' and 'Bring Back Rock 'N' Roll From The Dead' as well as a talented Rock 'n' Roll style guitar player. It's mostly about leopard top hat wearing vocalist Mark Thorn, who is a veteran of the London scene and whose frenetic manic style inevitably draws Mick Jagger comparisons, although I personally think Thorn is a little cooler. He is remarkably energetic in the foot or so space he has left at the front of the stage (due to all the drum kits set up behind), and like Jagger has a pretty mesmerising style on stage. Upon playing the song 'This Is The End', they announce "We would never do anything as obvious as playing a song called 'This Is The End' at the end, fuck that', and with that they finish with 'Vive Le Rock'. Like an orgasm, they are all absorbing and over way too soon.

LAG1

Stone Trigger play both nights and they get full marks for energy and crowd engagement. Providing Mötley Crüe style Metal, they also add a touch of glamour with great hair, bandanas, red leather studded gloves and get away with all the posing through sheer audacity and hard work. Vocalist Tommy Rockit doesn't stop as he skips, pirouettes and is tireless in his efforts to get the crowd going. It is something that makes them a perfect support warming up the crowd nicely. They have a few commercial anthems and some pretty decent guitar solo work. They play both nights with the same set-list. As may be expected, there was slightly more energy around the second (and Saturday) night when Rockit spotting video cameras in the audience jumps right in to the pit to catch maximum camera exposure in true eighties style. He then outdoes himself with a backwards forward roll perfectly executed to get back on stage in something of an amazing athletic feat. Having the attitude of go big or go home, they are worthwhile foreplay.

However, L.A. Guns are the sex! They headline both nights with an emphasis on classics the first night and an increased emphasis on the new album 'The Missing Peace' on the second. In fact, the set-list is probably three quarters the same for both nights, but if anything, people attending both nights were delighted to get so many songs they love twice. What a treat it is to see these guys in such a small venue... and twice within one week! Phil Lewis has lost a lot of weight, is looking snake hipped and foxy sharp in black frock coat, polka dot scarf, bandana and skin tight black jeans. Girls are grabbing Lewis' scarf and fondling his legs in a way that would certainly allow him to post "me too" on Facebook. However, rather than be starry over it, he has a gentle easy-going nature with the girls that is charming without being sleazy. From a female perspective, he looks pretty cute when he blows kisses and does a mock strip tease to show his newly svelte frame. Along with this return to Rock God image has come supreme confidence; he knows exactly where his mojo is and doesn't mind showing it off! This means he is sounding better than ever, reaching the high notes easily and with less of a shouting approach to lyrics than perhaps a couple of years ago – it's almost like a rebirth. This goes hand in hand with the brotherhood that appears to be taking place on stage. Perhaps that relaxed and well-oiled machine feel is just feeding the vibe, enabling him to be the best that he can be.

That bromance feel extends to the way the guitars are working together. Working as one, they are a formidable machine. There's no hint of ego or rivalry as guitarist Michael Grant seems happy to allow Tracii Guns to take the limelight first, before delivering a super charismatically cool version of 'Purple Rain' which entrances the audience with memories of Prince.

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Likewise, Guns appears affectionate towards Grant and with no jealousy, negativity or upstaging happening on stage whatsoever. It allows everyone to shine to everybody's credit and only fuels the crowd's admiration.

New songs 'Flood' and 'Speed' are played both nights and are titanic songs, already earning their place as classics in the set. Guns and Grant do a back to back guitar duet butterfly which has the perfect combination of style and substance. Early in the first show, Guns' solos seem a little low in the mix, although still audible, but thankfully that glitch is soon fixed. The 'Jelly Jam' is guitar hero stuff with all three players taking part equally and in sync, much like three musketeers. Lewis is justifiably proud of his boys and does a little Jiminy Cricket side step and double handed sweep of appreciation towards them for all that they are and do.

Lewis comments that he told Guns "there's no audience better than a London audience on a good night" and now Guns needs no persuading. Guns said he almost "cried on stage the first night and that's a first". Undoubtedly, there's a lot of charge to a London show, so a lot of relief when it goes well. By the second night, Guns is engaging directly with the front row crowd in a way I am not sure I have seen from him at previous shows. Surprise talented and popular guest Bernie Torme brings his distinctive tone and a nice gravelly shred with bluesy grit in the tone for the first night encore 'Rip And Tear'.

The amazing thing is that after being superb on the first night, the intensity on the stage the second night was so extreme is was almost unbearably coitally good. The roar from the crowd on the second night at the first break (after 'Devil Made Me Do It') could have taken your head off and it is so loud Guns can't help but beam at Lewis. Lewis gives bassist Johnny Martin a slap on the arse during 'Sticky Fingers' – which Martin wrote – and it is so divinely perfect, it has to be something for which souls are sold. Several classics also get an airing, notably 'One More Reason' with squealing guitar from Guns; it literally felt like the car race in the video of that song. At times, the crowd felt completely at one energetically with the band, and they with each other, to such an extent that the vibe was one of the best I have ever experienced with any band on stage... ever. They were literally on fire. This was also supposed to be a new album show, putting to bed the lie that people don't want to hear new music. They quite simply do when it's as good as this! I am not sure L.A. Guns were ever known particularly for carrying on the great legacy of English monster riffs – Black Sabbath style – but the power behind the engine now is greater and more creative than arguably ever before. Grant beats his chest and Guns wolf whistles the crowd with his guitar, as well they might.

Taking his time to greet the members of the audience at the front, Lewis is a down to earth but super cool star, who is justifiably proud of his band for the blast they gave the audience on both nights, but particularly the second. He himself does a victory punch and mock kick to the back of the net before the band take a group bow to finally quit the stage. With a final tribute to Guns, Lewis says "We changed each other's lives and now we are back together", his warm appreciative tone saying it all. Phew, I am so glad I didn't miss this... but they really should have made the DVD.

Dawn Osborne

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