With High-Heels, Leather and enough Hairspray to sustain a small camp fire, Glam and Sleaze fans across London converged on The O2 Academy Islington on Saturday to watch the return of some true Legends from the Sunset Strip.
Opening act Stone Trigger kicked off the night with a bang, blending old school 80s Hard Rock vibes with a genuine enthusiasm that was infectious. The young band, fronted by vocalist Tommy Rockit, runs through a lean set of original songs as well as a ridiculously enjoyable, unexpected and appropriate Backstreet Boys cover "Larger Than Life"
Dedicating final song "Hands Up" to the late great Ronnie James Dio, they leave the audience very happy and ready for the main act.
After several years in the musical wilderness, LA Guns are well and truly back and sounding better than ever, with the classic line-up of Phil Lewis on vocals and Tracii Guns on lead guitar. The added young blood of Michal Grant on Guitar, Johnny Martin on bass and new boy Shane Fitzgibbon on the drums rounds out this line-up nicely, and the next 90 minutes shows why they were/are regarded as legends of the Glam scene.
Kicking off with "Hollywood Tease" by Phil Lewis's early band "Girl", the band quickly dive into their 80s back catalogue and burn through "Electric Gypsy" and "Killing Machine". To say that Tracii Guns' return has revitalised the band would be an understatement. Whether it’s a violin bow intro to "Over The Edge" or his trading solo licks with fellow guitarists Michael Grant, Guns has an energy and ability that make the songs sound exciting and visceral again.
"Sex Action" has the searing riff and 80s attitude that modern sleaze bands are still chasing today while the "Ballad Of Jayne" has that lighters-in-the-air power in its chorus.
For a band that built its reputation living in the fast lane, its remarkable just how good they sound today - Phil Lewis's voice is superb through the entire night , still nailing the same sound 30 years down the line. Certain bands from the same era need backing dancers and back-up tapes to re-create their classic sound but LA Guns keep it straight up and neat.
What is even more remarkable is just how much Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns seem to be genuinely enjoying playing together! Unlike certain bands who get back together for the money & grit their teeth through the old hits , Phil and Tracii are grinning from ear to ear throughout the night, sharing vocal duties and even exchanging jokes between solos. It’s a joy to watch.
Finishing with encore "Rip And Tear", the band invites entire opening group Stone Trigger up on stage to join in, alongside their own crew and even their sound engineer!
"Next time at Wembley!" Phil Lewis says before taking a bow.
With a new album on the way this summer and (hopefully) more live dates to come, it is good to know that bands like LA Guns are still carrying the Hard/Glam Rock torch.
As some fans drift on to the after-party at Decadence night-club in Soho while others pose for pictures with Stone Trigger, all the fans seem overjoyed that they saw a purely perfect, no frills Hard Rock show with flair - an LA Guns show.
What else could you want on a Saturday night?
P.S. - A special shout-out needs to go to LA Guns Sound engineer - every single note came across clearly no matter the volume - no small feat (let’s get this man on the Grammys next year !)