L.A. Guns live at the Fish Head Cantina in Halethorpe, Maryland, USA Concert Review


Date: October 21, 2018
Venue: Fish Head Cantina
Location: Halethorpe, Maryland, USA
Reviewer: Christopher Carroll
Photos: Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography

It was Sunday and sunny as I drove up to the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland to see L.A. Guns play their final show of this tour. I was hurrying (late as always) and I was excited. Ace Von Johnson (of Faster Pussycat) had recently joined the band for the final leg of the tour and the last few times I’ve seen these guys, since Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis were in the band together, the live shows have been amazing. I was interested to see what kind of fit Ace would be with the band but I wondered, being the very last show of a tour that had taken them overseas and back, if the band would have the energy to make this as enjoyable as the last time I’d seen them.

Phil Lewis was kind enough to allow me in to watch the band’s soundcheck and I just smiled as I walked in to the full band playing, in the daylight, right in front of me. They looked great and they sounded phenomenal! They were extremely comfortable, casual and looked to be enjoying themselves as Phil called out “Killing Machine” and Tracii Guns’ response was, “Yeeeeeah!!!!”  It was then, that Shane Fitzgibbon asked for clarification, “In A-flat-sharp”? Tracii said, “Absolutely, in A-flat-sharp!”. Everything sounded so good that I didn’t want soundcheck to end! They wrapped it up after a few songs and each member was satisfied with what was coming out of their monitors and immediately moved in to Meet & Greet mode! They had a swarm of fans waiting to meet them and they greeted each of them personally.

Though I love Fish Head Cantina, I absolutely hate shooting photos there. The stage is so dark and there is never white light on the members, but I had to give it a try anyway. I wasn’t expecting much but I was hopeful! As I was standing in the photo pit, I looked out at the crowd and got a notification that it was a sold out show! I wasn’t surprised as they have a loyal following in the Baltimore area and they always put on a high energy show at Fish Head.

The band did not disappoint this time, either! They came out powerfully with “No Mercy” and everyone in the crowd was on their toes. They loved it! Usually while shooting photos for the first three songs, I don’t get to pay enough attention to the songs as I’d like but I found myself singing along as I was trying to find good angles. That told me that the show was fun!

One thing that really took me by surprise was the fact that, being the very last show of this tour, Phil’s vocals still sounded great! He sang with ease and had every bit of the range he needed. That’s really impressive and is very difficult for a singer. Tracii smiled so much onstage that it was easy to see he was having a ball! Again, being the last show of the tour, you’d expect the band to be worn out and just trying to get through this last show but it wasn’t that way at all. You would have thought this was the show that was going to kick the tour off. Tracii has written so many memorable riffs and has such a distinctive sound that when he starts a song, your body starts tingling because the sound of that riff transports you directly into the song. It’s invigorating!

Shane sounds quite powerful behind the drums and it gives the band a much fuller sound and Johnny Martin is as cool as he is funny! He will lock eyes with you from the stage and, at that moment, he’s playing for you! He’s always playing a Spector bass and he’s always halfway into the splits but he rocks from that height! Ace was always fun in Faster Pussycat but he plugged into L.A. Guns like he was meant to be there. Honestly, the onstage chemistry was more intense than I’ve ever seen in this band. Again, it was the last show of the tour and these guys were all smiles and having a blast onstage! They gave us an incredible show and enjoyed themselves the entire time. It was pretty amazing.

They played many of the hits and the crowd even sang along throughout most of the show. Their legion of fans is definitely strong. They played a couple of songs off their most recent release and even treated us to a new song that they wrote for their upcoming album. The song was called “Just the Devil.” It’s churning, its heavy and it is GREAT! Last year’s release, The Missing Peace, was so impressive that one would wonder if they would be able to top that. If “Just The Devil” is any indication, they are well on their way to doing just that. It certainly got me excited to hear more. It’s nice to know there is a great old school band that can still come out with a strong record.

L.A. Guns’ setlist:
01. No Mercy
02. Electric Gypsy
03. Over The Edge
04. Sex Action
05. The Flood’s The Fault Of The Rain
06. Speed
07. I Wanna Be Your Man
08. One More Reason
09. Kiss My Love Goodbye
10. Hellraisers Ball
11. Malaria
12. Never Enough
13. The Ballad Of Jayne
14. Rip And Tear
15. Just The Devil (new, unreleased song)
16. Killing Machine