“THANK YOU NOBODY!” — L.A. GUNS ROCK THE STUDIO FOR AN INTERNET PPV
What a strange time we’re in. The coronavirus / Covid-19 pandemic has basically shut down everything I love except pro wrestling and it made pro wrestling, more or less, suck. There’s no pro sports of any kind right now especially not the ones that I get excited about which are baseball and football. We can debate the reasons why there’s no baseball season and I do not see one on the horizon and I can tell you there is a good chance I’ll be sitting out this football season. The last concert I went to was Tom Keifer back in August of 2019. I had tickets to go see Dokken, Lynch Mob and Lita Ford in April but that went up in smoke because everything stopped. I mentioned sports are a no go but so has been live music. So, when one of my favorite bands, L.A. Guns, decided to try the streaming a live concert thing, I was down for the experiment.
The Monsters of Rock Cruise has kept us entertained with some live shows streaming live to our computer screens or mobile devices. It is live music. So, there is a benefit. And, if you have moderate tech savy, you can at best record the audio for a live album CD or perhaps record your screen and burn it for a live DVD. I, by the way, did both with this show. But, I have to be honest, sitting at my computer screen at 1:00 in the afternoon on a Saturday is not exactly the same as getting geared up for a show all day and then going and seeing it in person in your favorite gear. I literally watched this show in my bathing suit shorts and a tank top fresh from the pool. But, it wasn’t the Beach Boys! It was the Hollywood Vampires of L.A. Guns!
When I mentioned to our leader here at Sleaze Roxx that I had watched the show, his first question was the same as almost everyone I told about it. “What did they play?” Well, I’ll tell you. It wasn’t a terribly inventive setlist.
L.A. Guns’ setlist:
01. Over the Edge
02. No Mercy
03. Sex Action
04. Electric Gypsy
05. Gone Honey
06. I Wanna Be Your Man
07. Let You Down
08. Hell’s Bells / Never Enough
09. The Ballad of Jayne
10. One More Reason
12. Rip And Tear
So, as you can see by the songs, they didn’t get terribly adventurous. Phil Lewis had done an acoustic set earlier in the month where he broke out a Stacey Blades era song or two. That was not the case here. They stuck to the eight L.A. Guns staples and played three relatively new songs. It probably is what people want. But, I don’t know. I could have gone for some rare shit since there was no live audience to give them lip over it. Maybe pull out a “Scream” off Man In The Moon from 2001 or something, or even a few things, off 2002’s Waking The Dead. I would have also have been cool with them shocking us with Phil having Tracii play a Stacey era song or maybe even Tracii having Phil sing a Jizzy Pearl era song off Shrinking Violet. After all, Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden does perform a song here and there from his hiatus from that band. Why not? It is all the band’s catalog. Exploit it for all it is worth!
The show had some technical problems. It occasionally would show the logo and the sound would stop and then resume. I don’t think it was your standard buffering. I think it was a feed issue. But, the on demand version fixed that mess a little bit. And, because of the problems, you were allowed to watch the on demand version an extra few days whereas you only had three allowed watches with the purchase of your original ticket. The people in charge tried to make it right.
The band seemed into it to a point. Phil Lewis made me laugh after “Over The Edge” when he screamed, “THANK YOU, NOBODY!” There were a few times during the show where Phil would put his arms to the side like he was egging a crowd on to cheer louder only to catch himself and stop because… No one was there to cheer! What a brave new world this is! The band is tight. They have a lot of power in them and the songs sounded great. I would say they had more punch with Michael Grant as evidenced by the Made In Milan CD/DVD. But, I think that ship has well and truly sailed. I won’t debate whatever happened there. I don’t know. I just know that they went from an album I adored with The Missing Peace to an album I hate in The Devil You Know.
The studio vibe was giving me flashbacks to an episode of the Brady Bunch where Jan, not wearing her glasses, broke a family portrait in the garage — where all good family portraits are kept. So, they put on goofy outfits and sang a song I, for some reason, remember word for word to win the money to have a new portrait taken. I have no idea why a studio stage with LED video screens in the background would remind me of an early ’70s episode of a sitcom. But, somehow, it did.
The thing about all of the great bands of our genre at this stage of the game is they are only as good as their vocalist. That is not to dismiss Tracii or the rest of the band. It is only to say that if the singer can perform, the band still feels like the band. And, Phil still has the voice and the tone to make the show. But, I will say that the show fell a little flat. In a recent chat I had with Cody Rhodes on my wrestling site, Cody described the difficulties of live wrestling without a crowd. He pondered what it would be like if Hulk Hogan were to “Hulk Up” to win a match and there wasn’t a massive audience there to explode and cheer him on. What would that look like? What would it feel like?
Well, I found out what an L.A. Guns show feels like without a crazy group of people ranging from guys in the crowd who look older than they are behaving like fools having too many beers and women looking younger than they might be rocking clothes cell phone cameras were created to create a lasting memory of. The music was right, and the energy was almost there from the band. But, it just was missing that live element of my peers and the danger of what a live crowd could deliver. The excitement of having people around me of all ages, from younger than me to far older, all loving what they’re seeing and behaving the way they do when they truly let go. I might have let go some in my computer chair singing along and drumming on the arm rest. But, that just isn’t the same. It really isn’t. That isn’t the band or the production company’s fault. It is the fault of the state of the world. And, I for one have had about enough of this shit.
Would I buy another live concert with no crowd? Probably. But, it would have to be a band I’d really want to see one from. I, for one, would love if Warrant would do one. If for no other reason than to have a good recording of Robert Mason singing the Jani Lane era classics. But, much like L.A. Guns, Warrant and any real rock band will struggle to deliver the live experience without anyone there. With The Stadium Tour a no go as is the Big Summer Rock Tour and, though I’ve not heard, presumably the Sammy Hagar tour being off as well, this might well be my only show of 2020. I’m glad it was with a band that I’ve loved for 30 years. My brother in law has this band logo tattooed on his arm. Me? I’ll just buy the swag and wear the t-shirt. No needles for me, please!