By Lisa Burke
March 3rd 2017, West Hollywood CA: The Sunset Strip in West Hollywood practically gave birth to quite a few glam metal bands of the early 1980s origin, and for some it is still the glue keeping them a fixed entity among the rock n’ roll community. LA Guns has quite the history in this scene, and with many line up changes including Axl Rose and Jizzy Pearl for stints with this band along with two active line ups using the L.A. Guns name at one point, the tale becomes quite shy of boring. On Friday March 3rd 2017 I attended the first of two nights on the strip with L.A. Guns for the kickoff of the tour featuring both Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis once again headlining in pre-support of their collaborative album ‘The Missing Peace’ due out in June 2017. Both of these nights also featured direct support act The Aviators from Bakersfield, CA. While there are usually a hodgepodge of openers in a line up like this ranging from out of place to not very skilled to surprisingly well executed and interesting, the focus of this review is on the two main acts.
The Aviators themselves have gone through a few lineup changes, but have always had a solid path in the ’70s era rock n’ roll vibe with their AC/DC and slight Led Zeppelin-esque vocal range and guitar style. They modernize the old and their stage presence is full of that energetic vibe that carries you with them to keep you engaged throughout. The vocals are strong and very professional in tone, while the pace and energy is just right to carry the jams into the light. As a very appropriate band to open for L.A. Guns in the sense that they carry a similar message without being too over the top and they are out of the glam metal light enough to balance the stage out with L.A. Guns. Seventies rock n’ roll is crucial to the history of the whole genre and we absolutely need this kind of music still being created in its more modern forms today, and it’s great to see bands such as The Aviators accomplish this successfully.
The crowd at this event was a mixed bag yet majority was of the stylish forty-plus crowd that was also a fixture on the strip during the heyday of L.A. Guns, which is sort of the same with Jizzy Pearl and his band Love/Hate. They had the skill, talent, and charm to go far but really never jumped that hurdle to fame in the same way Guns N’ Roses did. So, it was quite funny to me that while the announcer at this show actually said before L.A. Guns’ set that this band was the original Guns N’ Roses, I will have to disagree as despite any technicalities in common members and dates these are two separate bands. Tracii Guns played in Guns N’ Roses for a few and Axl Rose sung in L.A. Guns for a few but as I said it makes no sense to say L.A. Guns was ever Guns N’ Roses because L.A. Guns was always L.A. Guns and Tracii did not make or break GNR either.
The popular trend nowadays with all these bands of the early eighties era is to have that reunion tour because all their original fans are now old enough to have real jobs and buy tickets to re-live their youth. Why shouldn’t they do so while they still have the ability? Seeing Phil’s version of L.A. Guns and Tracii’s version and then this joint reunion version, I am glad that I don’t have to feel guilty anymore for seeing one without the other. They really do belong together in this band and they seemed to be having fun with it. They played the fun classics such as ‘Killing Machine’, ‘Kiss My Love Goodbye’, and ‘Never Enough’, so all was well on that front. Phil with his custom painted leather jacket with Lemmy’s face painted on the back was a somber touch, his vocals were as good as ever, and clearly he just loves a party which is what he brings to the stage. Tracii is what he needs to be and the personality of his guitar playing in the context of this band is what is missed more than the actual playing in my opinion. It is similar to the deal with Axl and Slash who should not be separated ever again. Everything happens for a reason and Tracii and Phil fit together better than Tracii and Axl anyway. They may never achieve the magnitude of GNR but they are just as important to their fans and are right there where they need to be. I grew up missing out on L.A. Guns as I was extra wrapped up in GNR and not an LA native, but as I mentioned, they are skilled and talented in their own way and the only way to under-appreciate them is to compare them to GNR which is what set me off on this tangent in the first place. After all the drama of the glam days only to be killed off by grunge and now to still dominate the strip, I am just glad these bands are all still alive, kicking, and writing great new music. Two back-to-back weekend shows on the strip where it all began for them and where they will always be loved is a great kick off to the future of the Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns return to L.A. Guns tour.
Finding the passion for your music and inspiration is key to success along with originality and tons of talent. Some go above and beyond the call of duty to achieve this and some get lost in all the commotion. Regardless, all glam metal bands matter, so give them a chance to impress you with something new and something old.
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