A number of years ago, I watched as one of my all time favorite bands splintered apart in an intense and honestly ugly situation. For quite some time, years actually there was essentially 2 active versions of LA GUNS. I am not sure if they were the first band to create such a situation but they certainly weren’t the last. Great White, Queensryche and more recently Ratt have found themselves in similar situations. Some will claim, it’s a good thing as we have more chances to hear the music live but often bands are far more than just the sum of their parts. Chemistry can take music and make it magic. Case in point, David Lee Roth. DLR is NOT the greatest technical singer in the world but when he was fronting Van Halen…”fucking magic!”
During this time I was fortunate to see Tracii‘s version of LA Guns a handful of times with a handful of vocalists. Paul Black, Jizzy Pearl, Dilanna and Michael O’mara and every show Tracii came guns a-blazing (see what I did there?), there is a reason why he is my all-time favorite guitar player. I will state that out of all of the “alternative” LA Guns vocalists, Dilana put on the best show, but there was always something missing. Kind of like a Big Mac without the special sauce.
So last year when I heard that Tracii would once again be working with Phil, I almost peed myself a little. To me, this reunion announcement was on par with 1995 when I heard that Peter and Ace were coming back to KISS. Yes PEEPULL, that big!!! When AC/DC came to my home town back in 1988 my entire High School was at that show. LA Guns were the opening act and I was second-row center. I may have been the only one there sporting an LA GUNS T-Shirt and I was on my feet and losing my mind during their set. A year or so later I caught them at Rock n Roll Heaven in Toronto, front row squished against the stage. To this day that concert remains in my top 5 of all time shows. LA GUNS may not have invented the “Sleaze Metal” genre but they damn well perfected it!
So April 26th, 2017. Almost 30 years after being squished against the stage, I would finally be seeing Tracii and Phil ripping and tearing it up once again. All is well in the universe. Not only that but Toronto’s own Diemonds would be on the bill. Can I get a “Hell Yeah”? The place was buzzing with people and the doors had only been open for 15 minutes when we arrived. Seems Toronto was dialed in for a little midweek metal mania!
It was 7:30 when the festivities began, courtesy of Durty Little Secrets. These boys came ready to rock with a blistering set that comprised mostly of some interesting cover choices and one original entitled “Durty Golden Rule” There are different schools of thought regarding this, I understand it is important to promote your originals but warming up a still sober crowd at such an early time slot, I think covers can really be a band’s best friend. I especially enjoyed the left of center choices from Durty Little Secrets. From Velvet Revolver to Skid Row to Alice in Chains and a cover of Dio-era Sabbath‘s “Children of the Sea”, they entertained the crowd with some professional stage presence.
Up next was an artist I was completely unfamiliar with, Suzi Kory. I soon learned that it was her debut performance playing her original music. The band behind her were solid, tight and Suzi brought out a sizeable cheering section for her debut performance. Melodic edgy pop rock, I would label her music. In fact, her musical style is somewhat reminiscent of early Alannah Myles. “Too Pretty To Die” in fact reminds me of a rocked up version of Alannah‘s “Lover Of Mine”. “Something Ain’t Right” was a standout and although not quite the metal styling of the other bands on the bill, Suzi held her own and I would be interested in hearing more from her.
I am guessing, based on the number of Diemonds logos I was seeing in the crowd that the next set was eagerly anticipated. With a frosty cold “Diemonds – Never Wanna Die” Pale Ale in hand (Yes they have their own signature beer!). I decided to make my way a little closer to the stage for a better vantage point. Diemonds have been holed up in the recording studio working on their newest release and haven’t played a single show thus far in 2017. Nothing like blowing off a little pent up energy in front of a packed hometown crowd on a Wednesday night. They came blasting out with my personal favorite Diemonds tune “Better Off Dead!” and ripped through an intense 9 song set with an energy and tightness that totally matched the night’s headliner. “Hell Is Full”, “Over It” and “Get The Fuck Outta Here” had the place jumping, in fact, one fan was so pumped she jumped onstage to dance with the band for a couple of songs.
They introduced us to not one but two of the new songs they are working on “Our Song” and “Breathe” which slipped seamlessly into the set. Both songs delivered the goods and teased us nicely as we wait for a new album soon! Closing out their set with “Loud And Nasty” and “Trick Or Treat”, Diemonds tore it up with a blistering 45-minute set that totally kicked my ass. This is what live music is all about and Diemonds totally understands this.
Like a five-year-old waiting for Santa Claus, I stood almost giddy awaiting the biggest rock reunion this year (maybe this decade!), Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis together in LA F’n GUNS! “Hollywood Tease” from the debut album opened the show and there is was! The magic was back as the “missing link” was restored. The lineup which now features Michael Grant (guitar), Johnny Martin (bass), Shane Fitzgibbon (drums), the aforementioned Phil Lewis back where he belongs and Tracii “fucking” Guns on lead guitar.
“Electric Gypsy” was on point and then they totally rocked my world breaking out “Killing Machine” from the Vicious Circle album. My neck muscles are still sore from my head banging, ten days later! Tracii pulled out the bow “a-la” Jimmy Page style and solo’d off a very cool intro into one of my all time favourites, “Over The Edge”. A couple more from the debut kept the crowd jumping with “Bitch is Back” and their first major single, “Sex Action”. We were then treated to a brand new LA GUNS song, (PLEASE RELEASE THIS SOON!!!) called “Speed” which to my ears would have sounded at home on the debut or possibly even Vicious Circle. Vintage Guns but brand new! I can’t wait for this album.
It was S-L-E-A-Z-E rock at it’s finest for the duration of the set. “One More Reason”, the funky “Kiss My Love Good Bye”, “Dont Look At Me That Way” and the dirty groove of “Malaria” closed out the show. Of course the crowd demanded an encore and the boys returned in short order to deliver the knock out punch with a five song combination. “No Mercy” and “Never Enough” kicked the crowd into a frenzy. The five minute instrumental “Jelly Jam” provided both Tracii and Michael some finger stretching fun. Both of these guys play with so much feel, it was amazing to watch them trading off licks. Goosebumps! They slowed it down on the 15th song of the night for “The Ballad Of Jayne” before ripping into “Rip And Tear”! It was pretty much a perfect set and the double bill of Diemonds and LA GUNS will be remembered as completely EPIC!