Hammersmith Apollo, September 2nd


Velvet Revolver really shouldn't exist.

Guns 'n' Roses should be the 21st Century Rolling Stones, trawling the stadiums trading on past glories, laughing all the way to the bank. Instead they imploded in a mess of paranoia, animosity and crappy b-sides albums, the members going their own different ways into indulgent solo projects and drug overdoses.

And (the huge, yet decidedly average) Stone Temple Pilots' Scott Weiland should be dead - he has been, apparently. Twice.

It's very tempting to dismiss Velvet Revolver as a very bad idea, a desperate ploy to make some over the hill millionaire rock stars some more $$$'s. But then you hear the the album and you realise that a very good rock vocalist, a guitar virtuoso and a great rythmn section make up a band in possesion of some far-better-than-average songs. And, tonight, against all the odds, here they are to give Hammersmith a masterclass in glam, punked-up rock'n'roll.

Getting probably the biggest reaction I've seen, this or any year, Slash, Scott, Duff, Matt and Dave take the stage and plunge straight in. Tracks from "Contraband" are obviously going to make up the bulk of the set - rockers "Suckertrain Blues", "Slither" and "Big Machine" tear through the Apollo and the slower numbers, such as the reflective "Fall To Pieces" are well received, but it's the inevitable dips into the back catalogues that really raise the temperature.

"Crackerman" and "Sex Type Thing" by STP get a good reaction. But closing your eyes and listening to Slash play "Used To Love Her" and the still breathtaking "It's So Easy" (something I bet half the audience tried at least once) you could almost imagine what it must have been like 15 years ago.

But back then, was it ever this camp?! Probably the most snake-hipped, elastic, frontman I have ever seen on a stage - beating even Dave Gahan at his mosy gyratory - Scott Weiland, dressed in an american police hat, aviator shades and leather trousers cannot stand still, mincing across the whole width of the stage. By the end of the set the band are all half naked, and at one point during a particularly masturbatory solo Weiland actually dry-humps Slash's leg. Just as well they're good mates...

History is obviously Velvet Revolver's biggest problem. Escaping the weight of their collective past is going be difficult, if not impossible, but at least they sound and look happy enough

SET LIST: Sucker Train Blues, Do It For The Kids, Spectacle, Headspace, Crackerman (STP 'cover'), Illegal i Song, Fall to Pieces, Big Machine, Set Me Free, Slash doing the intro to Over The Hills & Far Away by Led Zeppelin, Used to Love Her (GnR 'cover'), Slither, Sex Type Thing (STP 'cover'), It's So Easy (GnR 'cover'), Tie Your Mother Down (Intro, by Queen), Negative Creep (Nirvana cover).

Richy [ September 4th, 2004 ]

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