Review by Woody, photos by Mark Lloyd
Birmingham based opening act Klasside open up for Gun tonight. They do seem an appropriate sounding band given the evolved sound of the recent Gun albums and as they plough through their set it’s easy to understand why they were given this slot. They seemed a well rehearsed and hardened live act and their alt rock sound is very experimental, adding lots of elements of other genres to the mix. For me though, the band are just too diverse and experimental to really appeal and grab my attention.
Now rambunctious rock ‘n’ rollers The Wild Lies provide a sound much more on my wavelength. They have an energetic stage presence and even on the small confines of The Slade Rooms stage they manage to put on a show of wild flowing hair and air punching. The Wild Lies provide a visual treat that is an exciting part of the live experience. Now it could be my unfamiliarity with the band’s songs but this is where the band failed to impress me, they had lots vibrancy and excitement but the songs had no lasting impression they always seemed to lack that killer chorus that lifted you and made you raise an eyebrow and mutter ‘wow’. They show a hell of a lot of promise and could shortly be an act commanding a loyal army of fans amongst those who currently love Jettblack, Reckless Love and The Treatment.
I got into Gun when I was a kid and just getting into music when I caught the tail end of their Swagger album promotion way back in the mid-Nineties. To this day that album still qualifies as one of my favourite albums and without doubt one of the few that features no songs I dislike. One of my biggest regrets was never seeing Gun with original vocalist Mark Rankin whom I still call one of my favourite singers although he has long since retired from the music biz.
Since Gun reformed I have seen them on a few occasions with the rather awesome Toby Jepson although I never felt Jepson’s vocals really suited the sound of the original Gun material I still enjoyed these live performances regardless. I have to admit I was unsure and doubtful that moving Dante Gizzi from bass to front man was going to be a success, and their first album with him at the helm, Break The Silence, seemed to confirm my thoughts. However, their latest opus Frantic is far superior and although it does see the band evolving their sound, it features lots to enjoy although old school fans may not be as impressed.
Gun hold nothing back tonight playing to a loud, boisterous crowd who cram into the Slade Rooms. With the help of a full on, no holds barred light show the band as a whole put on an exciting and energetic stage show which electrifies the crowd and builds a wonderfully buoyant and enjoyable atmosphere. Any doubts I had about Dante as a front man were quickly dismissed as he commanded the stage and audience from the opening note full of confidence and he interacts with the crowd with total ease. He may have been used to a more background role within the band but he has taken to the spotlight like a duck to water! On the older material Dante’s deeper vocal tone suits the songs better than Jepson’s and hearing all those classics sung in much closer fashion to how Rankin would have sung adds an extra little bit excitement for me and a smile crept on my face frequently during the older material.
Of course they integrate as many new songs into their set as possible and even though I was already enjoying the Frantic album but hearing these songs live gave me much more love for them and they really came to life in the live environment. In fact I would probably say it was a new song ‘Frantic’ that was one of the highlights of their set for me; the emotion and power of that song really hit home and the first thing I did when I returned home was to blast that tune out on repeat! They have without doubt proved there is still life in Gun and they have a lot more to give, also from the new one they played ‘Let It Shine’ which they opened the show with, ‘One Wrong Turn’, the energetic crowd pleaser ‘Hold Your Head Up’, and their latest single ‘Labour Of Life’ featured in their encore.
The band still has a lot of ambition and Dante frequently thanks the crowd for their loyal support over the years and promises that when they return they will be playing the Wulfrun Hall, and given tonight’s performance Gun are definitely a band who deserve that honour! One of my favourite Gun songs ‘Don’t Say It’s Over’ is blasted out early in the set and revs the crowd up and clears those throats for the singing yet to come. The classics are an unrelenting one-two punch of awesomeness as Gun gives us the cream of their back catalogue and demand we sing along! ‘Better Days’, ‘Something To Believe In’, ‘Money’, ‘Real World’, the emotion driven ‘Higher Ground’, ‘Taking On The World’ the ultra catchy and sing along ‘Inside Out’, their big chart hit ‘Word Up’. They finish of their set with one to their most popular songs ‘Steal Your Fire’ during which Dante looks straight at me jumps off stage and walks straight over to me to shake my hand and doesn’t drop a single note the whole time as the crowd roars along on that killer chorus and cue a massive smile on my face.
They wrap things up in the same high energy style as we had from the beginning with ‘Shame On You’. An amazing show from a band who are still very much at the top of their game and I know I’m not alone wishing they could have played for longer and I’ll definitely be there when they return. Here’s hoping they don’t leave it as long next time!