L.A. Guns - LIVE: Islington Academy, London 2017

Reloaded Reunion Tour
March 25 (20:30 - 21:45)
Capacity 800

It was May 2015 when founding L.A Guns guitarist Tracii Guns reunited with popular front-man Phil Lewis on stage for the first time since the former's departure to start Brides of Destruction with Nikki Sixx in 2002. The intervening 18 months have been, as is typical for L.A. Guns, storied.

To begin with, the two played a few shows together here and there, but ruled out Tracii rejoining what had been the official L.A. Guns line-up with Lewis and drummer Steve Riley (Guns and Riley each own half the rights to the band name). Instead, he toured with a solo band performing the self-titled debut album, while Lewis continued his line-up. Eventually they revealed that the pair had signed a deal with Frontiers Records for a new album, but both Lewis and Riley confirmed that this didn't affect the regular L.A. Guns, and further dates through to New Years Eve 2016 were booked. Then at the beginning of December, after this UK tour was published, Lewis took to Facebook to announce that after 2016 he would be leaving L.A. Guns, hinting that the band's lack of activity (their last album, the excellent Hollywood Forever, was at that point over four years old) as the reason. He and lead guitarist Michael Grant fulfilled the remaining dates, and then both left. The new band with Tracii was quickly re-branded L.A. Guns.

And so the reunion of Guns and Lewis did, after all, turn out to be a new line-up of L.A. Guns, still backed by bassist Johnny Martin and drummer Shane Fitzgibbon, with Grant on second guitar. This particular show was the last on a 12-date run and it was interesting to see just how many additional fickle fans turned up for the reunion compared to the numerous performances by L.A. Guns, Phil Lewis, and Tracii's Gunzo collaboration, which have taken place in London in the last 10-15 years. At least twice as many as normal, in fact, for no better reason than nostalgic loyalty to "definitive" members.

Indeed it would be disingenuous to Michael Grant, and Stacey Blades before him, to suggest that L.A. Guns have been needing Tracii Guns to return. Their material without him has been of a consistently high standard, if a little less regular than some would like. But once this show did begin, it was quite clear why some fans keenness for a Lewis/Guns line-up above any other was validated; Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns needed each other.

The pair genuinely do bring out the best in one another. Wearing a quite ridiculous snakeskin suit ("Too much? No, never enough, right?"), Lewis was back to his strutting best, and Guns - somewhat cheekily wearing a jacket with Brides patches on the arms - was all smiles as he ripped through the riffs and solos which made the pair famous as only he can. The two-guitar approach really benefits the band as well. L.A. Guns have predominantly been a four-piece for the last ten-plus years, with Lewis adding a little extra guitar where needed, but this five-piece line-up with twin guitars on everything, make all of the songs significantly heavier than they have for a long time.

They also got a little more adventurous with the setlist than the other line-ups have been of late, going back to the Vicious Circle album for Killing Machine and the Cocked & Loaded album for the rarely played Malaria. London was also treated to the longest set of the tour, with all of the rotation songs which were traded in and out of the set each night, being played, including Hollywood Tease and Don't Look At Me That Way. It may have only lasted 75 minutes, but it was a tightly packed 75 minutes of probably the best L.A. Guns performance London has seen in decades.

Setlist: Hollywood Tease / Electric Gypsy / Killing Machine / Over The Edge / Bitch Is Back / Sex Action / One More Reason / Kiss My Love Goodbye / Don't Look At Me That Way / Malaria // No Mercy / Instrumental / The Ballad of Jayne / Never Enough / Rip And Tear

Photo(s) by: Andy Lye

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2017, Gigs, Hard/Heavy Rock, , ,

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