L.A. Guns at Key Club: Aiming to Please with Vintage Sleaze

Written by on June 24, 2010 in June 24, 2010, Live Reviews - Comments Off on L.A. Guns at Key Club: Aiming to Please with Vintage Sleaze

Tracii Guns and crew revive “Shrinking Violet” / new local quartet BlackBrew also on bill

Photos by Ernie Manrique

L.A. GunsHollywood’s Key Club was electric with anticipation on Thursday, June 10th, when Tracii Guns, founding guitarist of the glam/sleaze outfit known as L.A. Guns, brought his hard-rocking posse back to the Sunset Strip for a promenade through the band’s hits. The group’s current incarnation featured sassy vocalist Jizzy Pearl on the microphone – the former Love/Hate frontman who recorded the “Shrinking Violet” CD with L.A. Guns eleven years ago. The evening’s festivities were announced as a celebration of the recent re-release of that disk, with the inclusion of several bonus live tracks, on Steve Vai’s Favored Nations Entertainment label. Also on board for the show were bassist Jeremy Guns and drummer Chad Stewart, plus noted session-man Teddy “Zig-Zag” Andreatis playing keyboards. Tracii and his merry men, along with a few special guests, all veterans of the Strip and no strangers to the Key Club stage, came ready to once again dominate the Boulevard. In short order, a houseful of horns-hoisting fans were making it clear that Los Angeles, home of such down-and-dirty, scene-setting bands as L.A. Guns, is a town where rockers of all ages and persuasions still like it loud and sleazy.

And if sleaze was what the people wanted, that’s what they got, as Tracii and company charged out from the gate with the racy piece called “Sex Action.” Anthemic chords quickly led into the well-known ode to naughty behavior, with crisply-coifed Jizzy spryly setting the pace by showing off an engaging theatrical flair that was part puppet-master, part marionette. The seasoned frontman was in fine vocal form, bringing the nice-’n’-nasty lyrics alive with every high-reaching howl. In counterpoint to Jizzy’s emcee-like appearance, longer-haired Jeremy and Tracii both wore leather vests, and the heavily-tattooed guitarist sported a headband, in keeping with the fondly-remembered style of the glam era. The band rolled into “Electric Gypsy,” following with “One More Reason” and then the throbbing bass line of “Decide,” which featured keys and axe complementing each other’s high-octave riffs. Soon thereafter, Tracii fooled a few in the house by fiddling with the familiar, ominous intro to AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells,” and then he took a surprising turn by seguing into “Never Enough,” which promptly proved to be a sing-along favorite with the crowd. The pace mellowed with “Dream Time,” featuring nostalgic, Fifties-style “doo-wop” construction and vocals. Tracii then brought out an old friend, bassist Phil Soussan (famous for his work with Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Idol, among others), to team up on a nugget known to everyone, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” which naturally led to hearty audience participation. And then, in another interesting twist, two members from local ska-punk-funksters Fishbone were brought forth: John Norwood Fisher on bass and John Steward on drums, backing Tracii and Zig-Zag for a tasty rendition of “Red House.” Fisher’s trademark dreadlock swung from beneath his cap, keeping time while Tracii handled vocals on the blues classic made famous by Jimi Hendrix. Paying heartfelt homage to the tune’s heritage, Zig-Zag brought out his harmonica to trade licks with Tracii, culminating in a satisfying, shredding crescendo.

L.A. GunsL.A. GunsL.A. GunsAnd as Jeremy and Chad resumed their places, the opening notes of “Ballad of Jayne” brought instant recognition from the audience, prompting yet another chance to sing along. Funny, isn’t it, how songs about girls with that name seem so poignant – one recalls, in particular, Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane,” and of course “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction. After “Jayne,” the metallic dirge of “Over the Edge” had a couple of mohawks in the crowd bobbing along while Tracii got intensely expressive with his axe. Tracii continued with his guitar-hero posturing during “Show No Mercy,” scrambling the strings expertly all the way up the neck. Next, in a nod to Jizzy’s previous band, an old Love/Hate tune called “Blackout in the Red Room” kicked things into good-time rock-and-roll overdrive. By that point, drummer Chad was loose and sweaty, and ready to break out all his licks and tricks, including cowbell, for the set-closer, “Rip and Tear.” The Key Club’s eager throng pressed the stage to soak up the hard-rock riffs, basking in the barrage blasted out by Tracii and company while they ripped it out and tore it up, bearing the banner and burning just as brightly now as back in sleaze-rock’s original Eighties heyday.


Right before L.A. Guns came on, the Hollywood crowd was treated to a powerful set from a newer Southland outfit, BlackBrew. Led by a solidly-built singer named Kurt Loun, the band served up a series of songs that melded classic hard-rock roots with up-to-date creativity and energy. BlackBrew began with the minor-keyed intro to a song called “Breathe,” which fused chunky chords from guitarist Bill Lima and heavy rhythmic support from bassist Matt Samadian and substantial drummer Mike Ikona into a molten audio stew. During that song, Bill’s fondness for his Morley “Bad Horsie” wah-wah pedal was evident, and he returned to that effect repeatedly throughout the songlist, while showing a taste and talent for shredding. “Last Chapter” commenced with a marching progression of ringing chords that seemed to channeled Black Sabbath by way of Alice In Chains, with Kurt vocalizing in a masterful tone distinctly his own – he’s not exactly a screamer nor a growler, but he certainly projects his pronouncements with authority. After delivering what the singer called a tongue-twister of a title, “And They Say, So They Said,” Kurt invited the ladies in the audience to dance, as the band changed up the groove with the funky onset of “In Loving Memory.” Then came another change, when the band got good and thrashy with “Morbid Rage,” a song fit for a pit, even though no moshers materialized, this time. In following, “Black and White” began with a melodic, wavery guitar line that led to a confident two-chord flow, plus another dose of thrash. And lastly, a thoughtful, progressive piece entitled “I Am The One” rolled out like a boulder down the Strip, a final chunk of hard, hefty tuneage from the competent foursome called BlackBrew – another local band that’s well-worth listening to and watching, on the road to rightly-deserved recognition.