L.A. Guns / Oliver/Dawson Saxon / Shyyne - May 29th - Bilston Robin 2 Print E-mail
Written by Ross Welford   
Wednesday, 15 June 2016 03:00

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It's good to branch out, to change, to feed the unfamiliar, so it was with some excitement that I was going to a new venue to watch L.A. Guns. Having decided that our usual London Underworld gig was a no-go in the week, the Bank Holiday Sunday gig up in Bilston at the Robin 2 venue was the place to go. A few bargain quid later and the hotel booked, myself and my rockin' amigo, Gordie, arrived early afternoon to partake of some local refreshments and wonder at the excitement of getting change from a fiver for two drinks! Already impressed and after putting the rock world to rights, we end up early doors at the gig sat down in Woody's Bar in what can only be described as someone's front room staring at a mountain of Roy Wood pictures on the wall and thinking, "Where the fuck have we ended up?"

 

Half hour later and the doors open and the 700 capacity venue was already starting to fill up with people - no bands were even on yet - and it already seemed busier than those London gigs. Local band, Shyyne, started proceedings and when mainman Toni yelled out "Alright my lovers" in his West Country accent, I'm sure I was the only fellow West Countryman in attendance who understood a word! Part glam rock, part sleaze rock and all time good time rock are the order of the day and the Wolverhampton band did what all good support bands do and get the burgeoning crowd excited and to build the momentum of the evening. Tracks such as 'You Want It' and 'I'm On Fire' play to their strengths and while they won't be the next big thing anytime soon, Shyyne really did get the party started with a set that got people up and in the mood - their blend of Roxy Blue and Poison did the trick without a doubt.

 

Oliver/Dawson Saxon are up next and forgetting the politics and the obvious version 2.0 accusations, I was interested to see if this band could actually cut the mustard or were simply going the through the motions to pick up a few quid and, BANG, in an instant they answered my question. The band played hard and with a ferocity that made you realise that Saxon were a force to be reckoned, no matter what era you speak of. Songs such as 'Motorcycle Man', 'Dallas 1PM' and '747 (Strangers In The Night)' are rock solid classics that when played this good just fuel the fire of fandom. Haydn Conway on guitar shreds like his life depends on it and surely needs to be pushed forward to grab some more of the spotlight, while singer Bri Shaughnessy is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with - a powerhouse of a vocalist - and with more choice tracks such as 'Denim And Leather' and the crowd singing 'Wheels Of Steel' at the top of their voices you cannot help but love this quintessentially British band and the dent that they made in rock history. Both Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson deserve to be part of that recognition and this band deserved the applause that came at the end of their set. Impressive.

 

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Now I've seen L.A. Guns many, many times over the last 20 years. Various incarnations and with a few varied results - none of them bad I may add - but this 'new' version of the band did have me thinking just how good they would be. I'd heard a few ripples from friends that the band were playing well on this tour and one friend even went on to say that it was probably the best he'd ever seen them. He must have been drunk, right? I know he must have seen them 15 times at least so surely he was wrong?

 

Going through the motions must be easy at times - maybe easy is the wrong word? - but playing the same songs must surely grate at some point, but within 20 seconds of L.A. Guns appearing on stage, all bets are off and I wonder if my mate might be proved correct? Michael Grant looks like he's determined to invigorate and single handedly prove to everyone that this band deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Mötley and GN'R, to prove to us all that this band and their songs are undisputed classics.

 

Seemingly louder, fresher and more aggressive and sleazier than I've seen them in years, the all-dressed-in-black LA Guns are here to be heard and take no prisoners. 'No Mercy', 'Sex Action'', Showdown (Riot On Sunset)' are torn apart and savagely thrown out of the speakers as if their careers depended on it.

 

Kenny Kweens - every bit the rockstar presence on bass - shimmers and shines through the set while Steve Riley lays down the thunderous beats that accompany sleaze singing legend Phil Lewis. 'Never Enough', 'I Wanna Be Your Man' and 'Over The Edge' further confirm just how good a set list this band can put together, and adding newer cuts such as 'Hellraisers Ball' and 'Gypsy Soul' only add to their reputation as one of the few bands to add new songs 25 years after their inception that can still enhance their reputation (take that, Jay Jay French!).

 

The crowd and band are in tune and every person in the audience is having a blast and when Lewis leaves the stage so Grant can take centre stage for what can only be described as a blistering, passionate and jaw-dropping rendition of Prince's 'Purple Rain' you realise that this man is a key instrument in the live resurrection and re-birth of this band. 'One More Reason' (that debut was an absolute classic, wasn't it?), 'Rip And Tear' and 'Electric Gypsy' (that follow up wasn't bad either, eh?) all sound as fresh as the day they first blasted out of L.A.

 

Tonight the band played loud, brash and sleazy - all the reasons I fell in love with this band in the first place - and L.A. Guns deserve their place on the podium, and with this version, they played it better than they have in years. Bilston knew they'd seen a great gig and I'm pretty damn sure that all three bands knew the reception they all received tonight was a great way to end the UK leg of their tour.

 

Maybe my mate was right after all.....

 

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