L.A. GUNS, RED STAR REBELS AND JACKVIPER
From the opening bars of ‘Spider To The Fly’, the sheer energy of sleaze rockers JackViper was obvious. They took to the stage dripping with snotty rock n roll attitude and instantly grabbed the crowd’s attention. Anyone who was apprehensive about singer Jay R being replaced on this tour by Dave ‘The Dominator’ Domminney needn’t have worried. For someone having never seen JackViper before, you wouldn’t have realized The Dominator was a stand in or that he’d been playing with them for less than a week. He performed effortlessly and put his own stamp on the vocals, rather than trying to replicate Jay. His Ian Gillan styled wails fit in perfectly with Eddie Shredder‘s dirty riffs that Slash would be proud of, strong rumbling bass lines from Mister Kiss and The Ferlanger‘s relentless pounding of the skins. There’s a hint of old school sleaze reminiscent of Junkyard or Faster Pussycat in the bluesy groove of ‘Whisky Town’, contrasted against the fast paced ‘0800 Fuck You’ which reflects a more contemporary style like that of Bullets and Octane. One of the highlights of the show was the guitar-off between Shredder and The Dominator, who it transpired, is also a worthy guitarist. This clash of the egos culminated with them both spanking their planks for ‘Blown Away’. The sound was much thicker with two guitars, giving the music a heavier edge. Not only did JackViper sound great, but they possessed a stage presence you would be hard pushed to ignore. It was time for some crowd participation for the finale, when a few members of the audience joined the band on stage to offer additional vocals to the Viper anthem ‘Go Fuck Yourself’. This ended up with those on the stage, and much of the audience, shouting along and snarling with middle fingers raised.
It seems lately that new bands to hit the scene have either the right image or the musical talent, rarely both, but JackViper look like sleazy reprobates, write filthy rock n roll, and damn they can play.
Next up were the Red Star Rebels, a band who have cemented support slots with it seems almost every 80’s American band to visit the UK on a comeback tour. A portion of their hardcore and fast growing fan base had made their way to the front in anticipation of the Rebels‘ performance. Red Star Rebels usually put on a good show, full of energy and stage antics, but tonight they seemed to be lacking in the enthusiasm department. The Chris Robinson-esque vocalist Blacky Rebel performed his signature tricks of hanging from the stage and standing up on the monitors to flirt with the crowd, but the other members of the band were somewhat subdued. This may have been a result of the sound problems they seemed to be encountering. The overall effect was more dirge than glam; it was impossible to decipher Meady Rebel‘s solos from the drone of the bass and rhythm guitar, and the quality of the vocals weren’t up to the expected standard of a top support act. The crowd however didn’t seem to mind as their response was excellent as always, especially for fan favourites ‘Too Young To Care’ and ‘Nikki Heartache’.
Red Star Rebels most certainly look the part, and their songs are catchy and memorable, but their performance tonight lacked the energy and flair JackViper possessed.
By the time L.A. Guns took to the stage the venue was packed, and the atmosphere was buzzing. The ’20th Anniversary tour’ line-up featured founding band members, guitarist Tracii Guns and vocalist Paul Black, along with Tracii‘s son Jeremy Guns on bass, and Chad Stewart of Faster Pussycat/Newlydeads on drums. Often bands who reform lose a certain quality and the sparkle they originally had, but L.A. Guns looked every part the trashy rogues they were in 1988, playing with the passion and professionalism as they did back then. Tracii maintained an element of rockstar cool throughout the show, even when his guitar cut out mid-way through ‘Ballad of Jayne’. Paul Black quickly improvised by inviting members of the crowd, notably attractive females, onto the stage to sit with him whilst he bantered with the crowd and sung. After some frantic equipment checking and swapping the crisis was averted and the Guns were back in action. It was good to hear a set rich with renowned L.A. Guns numbers including ‘Nothing To Lose’, ‘One More Reason’, ‘Over The Edge’, and the anthem ‘Electric Gypsy’. There were a few newer songs thrown in for good measure, as well as the Rolling Stones classic ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’. Jeremy Guns took lead vocals in an energetic rendition of Brides Of Destruction‘s ‘Shut The Fuck Up’, his vocals coming as a welcome change from Paul Black‘s ragged, and in places strained singing. During ‘Sex Action’ more girls graced the stage to dance alongside the band, Paul Black embracing the moment to participate in some saucy hip grinding, and a failed attempt to encourage the girls to kiss on stage. Tonight transpired to be Tracii‘s birthday, and a cake and yet more girls were brought out celebrate the occasion. The set was finished off by some surprising and impressive back flips by Paul Black, which proved that twenty years in they can still perform like the new, younger generation of sleaze bands out there.