Thursday, December 21, 2006

LA Guns - Mentor, OH show review

L.A. Guns @ the Funky Frog in Mentor, OH show review

The Hollywood vampires otherwise known as L.A. Guns rocked the Funky Frog Concert Club in Mentor, OH on Friday Nov. 10 to a packed house of hungry music fans. L.A. Guns are currently out on the road supporting their last 2 releases (one studio and one live) - TALES FROM THE STRIP and LOUD AND DANGEROUS - LIVE FROM HOLLYWOOD. The current lineup of the band consists of Phil Lewis on vocals, Steve Riley on Drums, Adam Hamilton on bass, and Stacey Blades on guitar - all four road tested veterans of the music business. Phil previously sang with the bands Girl (which also included guitarist Phil Collen before he joined Def Lepperd) and Torme. Steve Riley also cut his teeth in music with a number of higher profile bands before he enlisted in L.A. Guns. Bands such as the B'zz, Steppenwolf, Keel, and WASP appear on his resume. Steve manned the drumkit for WASP at the peak of their career and appeared on the WASP releases THE LAST COMMAND, INSIDE THE ELECTRIC CIRCUS, and LIVE IN THE RAW. Bassist Adam Hamilton first came up with a band called Joey C. Jones and the Glory Hounds, who released one cd, and he's been laying down the rhythm in L.A. Guns for the last 6 years. He also has a side project called Needle Park and if you can track down the self titled release from this project, it's well worth it. The disc was released in 2002 and spent alot of time in my radio for a number of months after getting it and it is still a cd I go back to time and time again. Rounding out the lineup on guitar is Stacey Blades. His previous credits include a great band that went by the name of Roxx Gang. I also highly recommend tracking down Roxx Gang's cds to check out. Stacey's loose/sleazy style of playing is top notch and has been a good addition to the lineup. Now that you know who's who in the band...on to the review of the show....

The lights went down and the sound of sirens depicting a night on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, CA came across the speakers as fog slowly engulfed the stage. As the fog lifted, L.A. Guns hit the stage running like they were shot out of a pistol and tore into their first song "No Mercy". They kept the momentum going with the tongue-in-cheek rocker "Sex Action" - both songs off of their self titled debut release. After the first two songs, Phil Lewis had a spinal tap moment when he jokingly told the crowd "Hello Cleveland!" Phil went on to say how much he always loves saying that phrase and that he wanted to act like it was a Saturday night in Hollywood - even though it was a Friday night in Ohio. The setlists was a good mix of old and new songs. The band performed like a well oiled machine on their setlist standards "Never Enough", "One More Reason", "Electric Gypsy", "Ballad of Jayne", "Wheels of Fire" and "Rip and Tear" - all songs from their first 2 releases. Phil Lewis always throws in a touch of humor in his song intros and his intro for "One More Reason" was no exception when he asked and told the crowd "Anyone out there remember cassettes? Side A? Side B? This is a song from our first cassette..." At the peak of their career, L.A. Guns shared the stage opening up on back to back world tours for AC/DC. Their second tour with AC/DC was for the HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES release and the band showcased "Over the Edge" and "Some Lie for Love" off that release for the Funky Frog crowd. Stacey Blades attacked the guitar with a "take no prisoners" approach throughout the evening and he took over vocal duties on "Nothing Better to Do", which was previously sung by bassist Kelly Nichols on 1994's VICIOUS CIRCLE release. Adam Hamilton and Steve Riley provided a tight and heavy rhythm section - both giving 100 percent. Adam constantly bobbed his head to the rhythm all night and Steve Riley was soaked to the bone in sweat come the end of the show. Songs from their WAKING THE DEAD release included "Hellraisers Ball" and the show closer "Don't Look at Me That Way". "Gypsy" and "It Don't Mean Nothing" were played from their current TALES FROM THE STRIP release. These songs from WTD and TFTS seemed like they were well received by the crowd and it's alway good to see crowds soak up new songs just as well as the hits.

There were alot of fists in the air and the crowd was going wild throughout the night - a great atmosphere for a show. Alot of people in the crowd were also sporting L.A. Guns t-shirts and singing the songs word for word. The only thing I have to ask is - where have you people been the past 15 years? The band has never stopped touring and releasing albums and I've never witnessed a packed crowd like that when L.A. Guns has been a headlining act in North East Ohio. I would have to go back to 1991 when L.A. Guns drew a crowd in North East Ohio larger than the one that attended the Funky Frog show. I have a theory as to why alot of people showed up and I think part of it has to do with not having to drive into Cleveland for a show. It's a blessing to have a great club like the Funky Frog right in your back yard. Keep coming out and supporting L.A. Guns and the Funky Frog. I'm sure the Frog would have them back as well as bringing in more national acts on a frequent basis. The fantastic stage lighting was the perfect backdrop for L.A. Guns and the Frog has (in my opinion) the best stage in North East Ohio. There was a downside to the evening - technical glitches cast a spell over the entire show as the sound frequently kept dropping out. The sound would drop out for a few seconds time and time again throughout the evening and it was kind of irritating but it didn't spoil the show. The positives far outweighed that one negative.

After the show L.A. Guns hung around and signed autographs and took pictures for those who wanted them. I would say about 250 people were in line for that and L.A. Guns took care of everyone in line. It's nice to see that there are bands out there who don't just jump on the bus and head off for the next town. L.A. Guns is one of those bands that appreciates their fans and stayed a little over an hour signing things.

As for the good crowd, keep coming out people and like I said earlier, you will get more national acts. To other venues - let this be a lesson that you have to ADVERTISE outside of metro areas. Most of the music fans who support bands like LA Guns don't live in downtown metro areas so it's a waste to advertise your shows in publications that heavily distribute in areas that don't support rock music. ...that's another column for another day. The music business is ugly when it comes to promoting, but it is good to see that there is a shining light in North East Ohio called the Funky Frog that knows what they're doing and the proof is in the good crowd attendance.


Anonymous said...

I saw the show and it ROCKED !!! The best thing to come out of Mentor-on-the-Lake since MOLPD !!!

Anonymous said...