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London Islington Academy, Saturday 25th March 2017

andy rawll
Words: Andy Rawll, Pictures: Chris Drew 2nd April 2017

la guns

It's remarkable that following years of hiatus, ill-will and stasis, the talismanic twins, mercurial six-slinger Guns and charismatic mouth-piece Lewis, agreed to reunite under the awkward, legally bland name of 'LA Guns' Phil Lewis And Tracii Guns' with the London show one week short of the 30th anniversary of their first meeting on April Fools' Day.

From the very first drum beat to the very last power-chord, it was clear that there was to be no f-f-fooling about. This was as high octane, membrane-shredding, aurally delicious and visually mesmeric as a rock'n'roll gig can be.

The band from the Sunset Strip are renowned for having spawned the most successful and notorious rock'n'roll band of recent times in Guns N' Roses, but has its own colourful post-Axl history.

la guns

Following a series of line-up changes, it was the arrival of Britt-ish squire and big Girl's bellower Phil Lewis in 1987 that provided the catalyst for our Trace's band to achieve increasing commercial success with 'Cocked n Loaded' and 'Hollywood Vampires' being particular highlights. That is, until the insidious ooze of grunge shifted musical predilections and the Guns' guys' world waned. 1995 then heralded almost two decades of line-up instability, with Lewis departing, re-joining and then forming a Tracii-free splinter group, all with diminishing returns.

The sheer glee that met the opening song 'Hollywood Tease' instantly consigned the past to become forgiven and forgotten history. The band and crowd response was electric. It was the perfect Sunset Strip anthem to kick-off the show, but ironic given that Croydon lad Lewis and Hackney boy Phil Collen co-wrote the song in 1979, when the fabled strip was a distant fantasy, so it's more likely they took their inspiration from closer to home. Purley Way Tease anyone?

As expected, the set-list mined the gems of the first two albums, with 'Slap In The Face' the only obvious omission. These were complemented by a handful of songs from the other four Lewis-fronted albums from 1991s 'Kiss My Love Goodbye' to 2001s 'Don't Look At Me That Way'.

la guns

Some might bemoan the relative brevity of the performance with the main set done and dusted in barely forty-five minutes, including Cheryl's favourite song 'Malaria'. However, the encore was more like a second set, stretching out a further thirty minutes and further elevating an already frenzied atmosphere that most will revel in the quality of the show, rather than the quantity, particularly considering the unique opportunity to hear so many songs from the first two albums. The storming version of 'Rip And Tear', that closed the show, included reinforcements courtesy of promising support band 'Stone Trigger' and best articulates what LA Guns did to the Academy.

Every aspect of the show was superb, with the supporting line-up of Michael Grant, Johnny Martin and Shane Fitzgibbon providing taut swagger to every song. They effortlessly locked-in and rocked-out with the poise and power of early Leppard and the swagger of classic Crue. I was also really impressed by Tracii's guitar mastery. It was far from the sloppy glam Metal riffery I was expecting. His playing was diverse, slick and groovy and had a gorgeous over-driven sound.

la guns

His soloing was exemplary and inventive, spiced-up with judicious Theramin and bowed guitar and playful quoting of some of rock's greatest riffs from Sabbath to Van Halen that the crowd loved. Beat that, man in a hat!

Yet, it was big teaser Phil that really elevated the performance with charismatic and rangy vocals that nowadays Joe and Vince can only dream about. While his skills as a frontman remain undiminished, his voice appears to have strengthened with age and augurs well for the 'Reloaded 2017' tour that continues in the US from April to July.

It's also great news that this revitalised incarnation of LA Guns has new material in the pipeline, so if you missed them this time around, be sure to catch them when they come back once that cat is dragged out its bag.

Hollywood Tease
Electric Gypsy
Killing Machine
Over The Edge (introduced by bowed guitar solo)
Bitch Is Back
Sex Action (with 'Paint It Black' snippet)
One More Reason
Kiss My Love Goodbye
Don't Look At Me That Way
Guitar Solo (with riff jukebox, Iron Man etc)
No Mercy
The Ballad Of Jayne
Never Enough
Rip And Tear (with support band 'Stone Trigger')


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Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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