L.A. Guns - LIVE: Islington Academy, London 2018

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The Missing Peace Tour
August 31 (20:30 - 22:00)
Capacity 800

Following on from the release of The Missing Peace in 2017, the reunited 'classic' line-up of L.A Guns played their first UK date since the end of last year. Whenever a classic line-up of a band begins to play and record again, there's also a common expectation amongst fans that live performances will also be at a higher level than normal. It's not always true, but it would be apt to say that this was the case for L.A Guns.

While L.A Guns have never been an arena-sized name in the UK, or even a name big enough to sell out a larger theatre like the Apollo, a venue the size of Islington Academy is a healthy step up in capacity from the Camden's Underworld where they typically played before the reunion (when they played it last year, two nights were required). Fittingly, there was also a particularly healthy sized crowd by the time the band took to the stage at the earlier than usual time of 8:30, due to the weekend curfew.

Opening with The Devil Made Me Do It, a song from last year's The Missing Peace, Guns ripped into a fairly intense hour and a half long set, that was built around a good balance of classic and new material. The likes of Electric Gypsy, Over the Edge, Rip And Tear and Sex Action were all expectedly strong, and yet while the majority of the standout tracks came in the shape of the aforementioned songs, newer material like Speed and The Flood's The Fault of The Rain were equally worthy inclusions.

As for the band, singer Phil Lewis delivered a strong performance as both a front-man and vocalist. Although Guns' material is arguably not the most vocally challenging, his voice sounded virtually, if at all, unchanged from earlier years. That hasn't always been the case, but this line-up seems to have spurred him to new heights. With that said, it was two other individuals who were really the driving force for the entire set. Drummer, Shane Fitzgibbons played with a thunderous and energetic vigour all night, and while some fans may have baulked at the omission of drummer Steve Riley from the line-up (never mind that he was basically the reason the previous line-up of the band broke down), Fitzgibbons proved his worth with ease.

The other was of course guitarist Tracii Guns, for whom it would be both fair and accurate to say that he shouldered most of the responsibility of the live performance. Playing ferociously and intensely for the entire set, the guitarist was arguably the highlight of the show. While it certainly wouldn't be just to say that it was an entirely solo effort, it's plain that it would have been a significantly different experience without his presence. As perhaps the biggest selling point of this reunion, it was satisfying to watch him really deliver.

All in all, L.A Guns offered everything that a strong reunion show should be. They were energetic, engaging and devoid of any complacency whatsoever, something that reunions often seem to be guilty of. As a band currently in excellent form, they're happy changing up a few songs on the setlist each time they pass through, and they're armed with both strong old and fresh material. They're touring a lot more now as well, something Riley often prevented the previous band from doing, so they're absolutely worth catching whenever they come around.

Setlist: The Devil Made Me Do It / Electric Gypsy / No Mercy / Over The Edge / Kiss Your Love Goodbye / Sex Action / The Flood's The Fault of The Rain / Speed / I Wanna Be Your Man / One More Reason / Hellraisers Ball / Malaria / Guitar Solo / Never Enough / The Ballad of Jayne / Rip And Tear

Written by James Abel
More: 2018, Gigs, Hard/Heavy Rock, , ,

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