L.A. GUNS RIP N TEAR DOWN SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA IN 2018!
Date: January 27, 2018
Venue: BLK Live
Location: Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
After attending last month’s Kix concert at BLK Live, I was not able to get back to the venue since. In that time, the venue has brought in many great acts I wish I could have seen including Stephen Pearcy and Bang Tango on New Year’s Eve and Winger just last week. But, like the lyric in L.A. Guns‘ “Hellraiser’s Ball” says, “This one you will not miss.” And, I did not miss! Seemingly, nobody did.
To what had to be near capacity, I arrived to a closed parking lot because it was full. I soon realized inside was no better. Last month, I walked in on Kix and was able to scoot by the bar and nestle myself in the middle of the stage about five or so people back. This time, I couldn’t really turn any corners. It was packed and everyone was unwilling to move. Like, unwilling. I’ll get to that later. I ended up stage left in and did my best to worm my way more towards the center and closer than about 10 people back all night. In the end, I moved a bit… Not much, But, a bit.
Sons Of Kaos, spelled that way, were on stage when I arrived doing a heavy version of Billy Idol‘s “Rebel Yell.” Their singer was incredibly energetic and did some impressions in his banter with the crowd that were pretty funny. They included if Neil Diamond ever sang Metallica. This, of course, reminds us all horribly of Lou Reed / Metallica Lulu disaster. But, I digress. They then did an Alice In Chains cover which I detest — I’m 100% Seattle scene free in my taste in music. Some must have agreed with me because a few people went to the bar which allowed a tad, again not much, of shifting forward and more towards the center. After a great cover of Queensrÿche‘s “I Don’t Believe ‘in Love”, the band finished its set with a great cover of Van Halen‘s “Unchained.” I really like what these guys do! You know, except the Alice In Chains cover. They can keep that.
During the intermission, the venue did not stop the music. Loud — and I mean as loud as the opening act — music continued to spill from the speakers. I found this kept the crowd in place for the most part and allowed no way for me to needle my way forward. Maybe that was the goal, to avoid pushing and shoving? Regardless, it was a bit off putting that it was kept so loud in there. Mötorhead, old Van Halen, Iron Maiden and other classics were played at high volume as the stage was set for L.A. Guns.
The crowd was a good mix of your typical age group. I am on the slightly younger side of that group and know it as I am 36. There were some younger fans, mostly girls, that I saw and some old folks. I wanted to publically shame someone, though. An old guy, and I mean he had to be up there, came by and demanded to get the other side of me. I screamed back, to get over the background music, “Go ahead, if you can get around me, that’s fine.” He said, “But my friend is right there.” I said, “Ok, go ahead” but could not go forward or back or even to the side of me because there was no room. I don’t know what he wanted me to do. So, he shoved behind me rather hard and said something about “Great, I have to be near one of these fucking guys.” Hey asshole, if I didn’t want to see the show so bad and didn’t fear getting kicked out, I’d have knocked your false teeth out. A crowd of at least 500 and I have to be sought out by the only asshole in the bunch. Unbelievable. Really, this was the only blemish on the evening.
L.A. Guns took the stage to a new one, “The Devil Made Me Do It.” I was pleasantly surprised by the audience being into it right away. I will say I didn’t notice as many singing along and the fact that they had just taken the stage could have been the reason the audience reacted so positively. But, this is one of my favorite songs off the new album (I like the heavy stuff) and was excited to hear it live.
The band then broke into “Electric Gypsy”, “Bitch Is Back”, “One More Reason” and “Over the Edge.” They returned to songs off The Missing Peace with a song Phil Lewis admitted had a “House of New Orleans” vibe. Yeah, no shit. “The Flood Is The Fault Of The Rain” was next followed by “Speed.” I want to post this because I think it bares noting. The performance of the song “Speed” was absolutely INCREDIBLE! The energy that Phil, Michael Grant, Johnny Martin, Tracii Guns and Shane Fitzgibbon brought to the song live is even more impactful than the album version which is damn strong in and of itself. With all the classics this band has in the catalog, I left remembering the performance of “Speed” above all else. Good Lord, these guys nailed it.
L.A. Guns performing “No Mercy” and “Over The Edge” at BLK Live in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA on January 26, 2018:
LA Guns performing “No Mercy” and “Over the Edge” at BLK Live in Scottsdale AZ on 012618
We returned to the classics, if memory serves, with “Sex Action” that drifted into the Rolling Stones‘ “Paint It Black” for a spell. Then, Phil announced the next song as something heavy that he and Tracii wrote “a few years ago”…. I guess 16 is a few, isn’t it? It was the opening track of Waking The Dead called “Don’t Look at Me That Way.” You know how people debate if Steven Tyler can hit the note in “Dream On” or if Roger Daltry can hit the scream in “Don’t Get Fooled Again?” How in the hell can Phil Lewis hit the ending primal scream of this song night after night? I don’t know if he does every time. But, he did this time. I actually was stunned at how he held that incredible note, I guess it counts as a note, for as long as he did. Unreal!
Michael Grant, the guitarist who played for the Phil Lewis and Steve Riley version of the band after Stacey Blades‘ departure, took center stage to sing. What would it be? Perhaps “Nothing Better To Do” off the Vicious Circle album? Nope! How about “Purple Rain”, the Prince classic! This brought us to “Malaria.” Tracii took his guitar solo that ventured in a few different familiar directions but ended up with the band doing the entire intro to AC/DC‘s “Hells Bells” which stopped just as Phil was to start singing. It morphed, rather well actually, into “Never Enough”. Thee was a bluesy song I did not recognize shortly thereafter.
L.A. Guns performing cover of Prince‘s “Purple Rain” at BLK Live in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA on January 26, 2018:
LA Guns Michael Grant performing Prince’s “Purple Rain” at BLK Live in Scottsdale AZ on 012618
We seemed to wrap up quickly with the “Ballad Of Jayne” followed immediately by “Rip N Tear.” Perfect way to do so. And, it left the audience going home happy.
L.A. Guns performing “Rip N Tear” at BLK Live in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA on January 26, 2018:
LA Guns performing “Rip and Tear” at BLK Live in Scottsdale AZ on 012618
In my review of The Missing Peace, I stated that Phil and Tracii are each other’s missing pieces musically. While I will admit I went to many L.A. Guns shows to see Phil‘s version, and a few to see Tracii‘s (though I could not get around not having the voice), I can and will say that I do not know that I have ever heard a L.A. Guns‘ line-up more on point, tight, and musically gifted as this version of the band that we have right now. It is louder, it is tighter, and it is every bit as punchy and powerful as it was when this band was riding high. The Classic Metal Show recently ripped L.A. Guns saying they had seen them perform in 1992 opening for AC/DC saying “Can you tell me you’re going to see them perform any better than they did then?” The true answer is “yes”. And, discounting their musical contributions since 1992 is also insulting. I would have liked to have heard something off Vicious Circle or Man In The Moon. I didn’t expect to, mind you. But, I am a fan of having something from all releases if possible to cover all the fans’ potential favorites. But, I am trying to illustrate that there is a wealth of material after their most popular music was released that all is of high quality and should be played. I would have even been cool with a few more off Waking The Dead as that was such a powerful record. I don’t think, though, you’ll get Tracii to play anything off Tales From The Strip or Hollywood Forever though. I just think that might be a suggestion that would be shot down in flames.
Overall, I have always been a L.A. Guns fan. I will always be a L.A. Guns fan. And, they never disappoint live. But, again, it is a higher level when you get the mixture of Tracii‘s guitars and Phil‘s voice. They are a special pair to draw to and with the addition of Michael Grant, Johnny Martin and Shane Fitzgibbon on drums, they are a musical force still in 2018.