17th March, 2008
With volatile lead singer Scott Weiland fresh from spending 28 days in rehab, there was always going to be much scrutiny surrounding the bands performance on this tour. After a string of show cancellations around the world due to various problems it’s no wonder the crowd are a little dubious as to whether tonight’s show would even go ahead.
But go ahead it does, and finally at 9.30pm the band stroll out without a care in the world. The stage feels rightly uncluttered, with just a ‘Libertad‘ banner in place, and serves to be more of a platform for the music rather than a distraction. As they launch into their relentless setlist and blaze through a few technical difficulties, they sear through the first batch of songs including ‘She Builds Quick Machines’, ‘Big Machine’, ‘American Man’ and ‘Get Out The Door‘ it’s the spirited sound of a band in charge and despite all his dramas, Weiland is still an enigmatic frontman. As he lurches and leaps around with a wide eyed stare, he exudes stage presence in abundance and it seems any worries about his health are thankfully unfounded tonight.
One of the biggest cheers of the evening goes up when the lights dim and opening whistles of the old Guns’ n Roses favourite ‘Patience‘ ring out through the old walls of the Apollo. Despite being 20 years old, the song still sounds as raw and emotionally charged as it did the first time you heard it and yes, predictably it’s time to raise the lighters/mobile phones aloft.
Said illuminating objects stay in place for the spine-tingling ‘Fall To Pieces‘, with Slash working the blistering riffs effortlessly and displaying exactly why he is one of the best guitar players in the world. Ultimately it is Slash’s signature guitar sound that holds this rock n roll beast together, as the rest of the band exit the stage, the iconic guitarist stands under the spotlight, just a lone figure with top hat in place and proceeds to unleash a melee of urban rock blues with his solo’s still sounding as reckless and beautiful as ever.
Now whether the band are still around in five or ten years doesn’t really matter, Velvet Revolver have only ever been about the now and as far as taking rock music back to it’s fundamental principles goes, VR are doing an exceptional job. All in all, if you are looking for incorrigible hard rock, played at its best then without a doubt Velvet Revolver are the best live ticket your pennies can buy and as for anyone feeling slightly bored by nu-rave, then heed the message that Rock and Roll is still very much alive and fucking kicking and I for one am truly grateful for that.
Words and pictures by Jane Hawkes.