LA Guns/Damn Dice/The Prophets Of Addiction - Pontypool, Wales, UK at The Hog & Hosper - 8th October 2011
Written by Johnny H
Saturday, 15 October 2011 05:10
At the height of their late eighties popularity the chances of seeing an L.A. Guns show in Wales were about as remote as catching Sutton wearing a Poison T shirt. It wasn't necessarily that the band didn't have a desire to play in the Principality, nah, it was just that at the time we really didn't have a venue that would have been capable of holding the arena rock enormity of Phil Lewis and his band of Hollywood Vampires. Even when the original line up part reformed for 2001's 'Man In The Moon' album the closest they got to paying the Severn Bridge toll fee was playing a rousing set at Bristol's sadly missed Bierkellar venue.
Then around about 2003 it all suddenly changed, as ex L.A. Guns manager Alan Jones managed to tempt Phil Lewis and his then "only" version of the band across the Severn Estuary to play at the just opened (and now also sadly missed) MS1 club in Cardiff. Following that inaugural show many different versions of the band (I really don't have to explain the Tracii Guns scenario here do I?) have seen fit to grace us with their presence and in the last four months alone we have been lucky enough to have had three shows from the two band's trading under the name L.A. Guns. Here tonight though as far as I'm concerned we are talking the real muthafucking deal, as it was time to welcome Phil Lewis and Steve Riley to the rather splendid Hog & Hosper rock pub.
Putting three 'original' bands on the same bill a Saturday night in any town in the UK right now is never going to be an easy task for a promoter. With the public at large wanking their brains into oblivion listening to X Factor and tribute band bollocks it is credit to Sam and her team at The Hog for bringing a little ray of Sunset Strip sunshine to a drizzly Pontypool.
Once inside the Hog's cosy confines various band members could be seen milling around waiting for showtime and the relaxed atmosphere this all generated kind of made me forget I was just about to witness a band that had sold ¾ of a million copies of their debut album before they really hit the big time. And that band was going to be playing in a room that holds probably one hundred people tops. However after a quick pint and a catch up with some Uber Rock regulars, it was time for me to get my rock 'n' roll head back on as tonight's openers The Prophets Of Addiction were suddenly demanding my attention with their punked up glam rock riffery
Having already received Dom Daley's seal of approval for their self released 'Babylon Boulevard' album, it was immediately obvious why our man out West would love everything about these guys. Looking every inch the platinum selling rock stars they so want to be, Lesli Sanders and his men strutted and posed their way through a large chunk of that aforementioned album, sounding at times like a pumped up Lords Of The New Church albeit with a little bit of streetpunk attitude.
As their set unfurled in a gloriously messy fashion and the eyeliner on all four band members had started to get suitably smudged guitarist Tchad Drats cut a mean Brian James to Sanders Stiv-like vocals on 'Self Portrait' and 'Rejection', and whilst there may be some slight nods to the likes of Motley Crue and Faster Pussycat in the band's sound, I can't help thinking that these guys prefer their music just a little bit dirtier, with an almost Gunfire Dance meets Black Halos sound unfolding during set closer 'Hang Me Up'.
To say I was left pleasantly surprised by The Prophets Of Addiction's all too brief set would actually be an understatement, as no sooner had they finished their set than I was at the merch booth picking up my own copy of ''Babylon Boulevard' and thinking to myself that perhaps I should pay closer attention to what Dom recommends in the future.
Setting the bar suitably high for the arrival of London sleazesters Damn Dice, I had been wondering just how the enthusiastic four piece might react to such a rabble-rousing performance from tonights openers. Kicking off with one of their own tunes in the shape of 'All Night Long' singer Bobby Valentine might fancy himself as the UK's answer to Stevie Rachelle but in fact he isn't even the UK's answer to Olli Herman as he struggled valiantly to hit the notes you know he should be hitting. Keeping with that Reckless Love thread for just the briefest of moments as they seem to be on the possible brink of global domination right now, back in the eighties the then burgeoning International glam scene threw up (quite literally) a slew of piss poor copy bands here in the UK, so this time around can we please not have that happen again! I mean can you imagine what a piss poor version of Reckless Love might sound like, can you? Oh fuck...too late.
Look I'm not about to critically assassinate a seemingly nice bunch of guys who are just starting out, but when a band plays a cover of Crashdiet's 'It's a Miracle' and you can't work out if all the members are actually playing the same song you don't have to be a musical genius to understand that there is still a long way for these guys to go. And quite honestly Damn Dice playing after The Prophets Of Addiction only accentuated the humungous gap in musical proficiency between the two bands. At one point even Scuzz TV's nu metal top 50 videos showing elsewhere in The Hog was actually starting to look more attractive than what was happening on stage. So I hope that gives you an idea of what to expect if Bobby & Co pop up on your very own gig calendar sometime soon.
Playing a venue roughly the same size as most of the dressing rooms they must have had back in their heyday might put off lesser bands, it can hardly be ego inflating can it, but then not every band contains two rock stars quite as grounded as Phil Lewis and Steve Riley, and it is to their credit that tonight in front of a rapturous and dedicated crowd L.A Guns really did do their legacy proud. Delivering on Phil's initial promise to give us the big Saturday night rock show we all needed, a sultry 'Over The Edge' got things going by immediately breaking open the sweat glands of everyone squeezed up close enough to get a glimpse of their heroes. A lethal dose of 'Sex Action' closely followed by a rampant 'Never Enough' then proceeded to blow out any cobwebs you may have had left in your ears via a brutal sonic attack of the senses that was done full justice by the Hog's rather spiffing sound system.
Mixing up their set list with tracks from their last album 'Tales from The Strip' (in the shape of 'Vampire') as well as adding some slightly more obscure oldies, (Scotty Griffin picking up lead vocals for a frantic run through 'Vicious Circle' track 'Nothing Better To Do'), this is where this version of L.A. Guns really has the edge over whatever Tracii decides to pass off as his version of the band. With Stacy Blades on guitar and the aforementioned Griffin on bass, Riley and Lewis have a fully functioning band that really is capable, as I've said already, of delivering on the band's fine legacy. In fact I can't wait to hear what these guys come up with next when they finally once again hit the recording studios with Andy Johns and his team sometime in the near future, because this is one hungry sounding gang of musicians with fire in their bellies, and not the faintest whisper of the dreaded "c" word (that's cabaret folks) on their collective breathes (could Tracii Guns honestly say the same thing of his band?)
Tonight L.A Guns really delivered the full arena rock show deal albeit with all their razzmatazz and anthems squeezed into a packed out pub, and whilst Phil might have felt like he was a million miles away from L.A. he obviously hadn't spotted the road signs for Lower Abersychan on his way to the venue. Closing the night out with a punk as fuck run through of 'Rip N Tear' you could almost hear the distant roar of Harley Davidson motorcycles speeding away from the venue as the real Hollywood Vampires rode off into the night as all conquering heroes and true defenders of the L.A Guns faith.