L.A. Guns / Stone Trigger / Knock Out Caine - O2 Academy Islington, London (UK) - 25 March 2017
Knock Out Kaine seem to me a band to be developing. They do a decent homage to Mötley Crüe, but behind the Cock Rock façade and worship of all such things, there were strains of material infused by the Blues in their last two songs. Certainly, they're a decent enough sounding Rock band and a worthy support.
Stone Trigger were heavier and reminded me of the slightly Thrash-like period of the Hair bands we saw in the early nineties – such bands like Every Mother's Nightmare. There's some memorable songs like 'Black Venom' off their first EP. Their vocalist looks like a young Phil Lewis in the right light and does his best to get the crowd going, including riding the bouncer like a rodeo bronco in the pit.
However, the crowd were here for newly reunited Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns. It's a set full of awesome classics and a short cover of 'Paint It Black'. Lewis pushes the boat out image-wise in head to toe glossy snake print, with a change to black leather complete with riding crop and top hat for the encore. It's much needed glamour after the loss of living doll Kenny Kweens. However, Guns more than makes up for it with his astonishingly fast solos and obvious camaraderie with the consummate showman and glamorous smiley Michael Grant with whom he gels well with no hint of rivalry. Grant seems to accept easily that most of the show-stopping solos are going to go to Guns and they seem to share a genuine friendship during several well-coordinated guitar duets – for example in 'Over The Edge'. Guns gives us some old-school style showmanship with plenty of vertical neck playing, sinking to knees for sizzlingly intense crescendos and adding some lovely little ad hoc extra trips up the fret-board during verses.
Lewis looks comfortable and in charge on stage, he also sounds good, especially when his voice can really be heard, for example, on 'Ballad Of Jayne'. 'One Good Reason' is the ultimate Sleaze anthem and the audience hear a truly great version tonight. Grant adds a little Funk to the mix and after a little James Brown style undercurrent playing and Egyptian chin forward and bank dancing from him as Guns provides an overlay of traditional eighties style guitar. A crowd member leans over to me in the press enclosure and says "this is quite possibly the greatest thing I've ever seen in my life". Certainly energy is increasing as Lewis films the crowd and they go wild and Grant strides front stage with fist in air in triumph.
Guns entertains the crowd with snippets of Black Sabbath, Van Halen and AC/DC, while Lewis gets a chance to change for a storming version of 'No Mercy'. We then get a final duet from Grant and Guns and during this it was lovely to see Lewis take the time to say hello to the kids and special needs visitors side-stage. We then get excellent versions of 'Never Enough', 'Ballad Of Jayne' and 'Rip And Tear' as an encore. It's the last night of the tour and Lewis looks pleased as he dances like a boss. Do we mourn the loss of Kweens and Steve Riley, of course we do, that was a great version of LA Guns, but Lewis has no doubt he made the right decision. Certainly two versions of the band was unsustainable and we love the new LA Guns too! It's great to see Lewis and Guns back together and giving such a great show – more please!