Monday, January 24, 2005

Slash Deprivation Solution

VELVET REVOLVER, HAMMERSMITH APOLLO

Two weeks after seeing Velvet Revolver at their first Hammersmith Apollo gig, my friend Amy began to develop a dangerous form of SDS (Slash Deprivation Syndrome), which, for all you Essex boys out there, is not a reference to an insatiable desire to urinate but to an insatiable desire to occupy the same room as the former Guns'N'Roses guitarist. Fearing for her continued sanity and mental health, she anxiously perused Ebay in a quest to find available tickets for the second of the Hammersmith Apollo performances. Unfortunately, only paired tickets were affordable, putting her in the unenviable position of being forced to bring me along.

Arriving at 6:45 after some magnificent car navigation from Brighton and nourishment at the indiscreetly glorified Wetherspoons that is Lloyds, we were delighted to notice that misery specialists Biffy Clyro had been dropped from the list of support acts, leaving just a single obstacle between us and the appearance of Velvet Revolver. However, this obstacle proved to be a redoubtable one.

After entertaining ourselves by watching what appeared to be a constant loop of 'Team America - World Police' adverts on the big screen, The Datsuns, a New Zealand garage rock quartet on an ambitious mission to develop the concept of 'sameyness' beyond Status Quo levels and into hitherto unheard of territory, opened to desultory applause and proceeded to play the same three chord yawnfest in eleven astonishingly similar ways. Excruciatingly, the concluding version somehow managed to occupy seven minutes of agonising ear bleeding hell before the singer admitted defeat after repeated attempts to inject excitement by screeching 'WEOOOOOOOOWWWW!!!' whenever he approached the chorus in the anguished manner of a cat being neutered. Desperate attempts to influence the audience with ludicrous and plainly dishonest propaganda: 'THIS IS MOTHERF****** ROCK AND ROLL!!!' were greeted with stoney silence.

After a sixth attempt to persuade us to attend the forthcoming 'Team America: World Police', greeted with sarcastic cheering and the somewhat disturbing observation by someone in my near vicinity that 'that's an impossible angle for intercourse', apparently completely failing to notice that the fundamental premise of eunoch puppets having sex despite the irreconciliable penetration issues is not *especially* realistic in itself, the waiting for a decent band commenced. And continued for so long that the appearance of a solitary drum tech was greeted with the euphoric applause usually reserved by a Most Haunted audience for any event which carries the most pitifully tenuous possibility of a supernatural cause:

YVETTE: OH MY GOD! OH, MY GOD!!
PHIL: What is it?!? What?!?
YVETTE: I heard....A NOT IMMEDIATELY EXPLICABLE NOISE WHICH ONE IN A MILLION PEOPLE MIGHT, IF PARALYTICALLY DRUNK AND POSSESSING THE MENTAL FACULTY OF A DERANGED GOLDFISH, ASCRIBE TO SUPERNATURAL POLTERGEIST ACTIVITY!!!!
PHIL: OH MY GOD!!!!
DEREK: LET'S GET OUT OF HERE!! BUGGER ME, WHAT WAS THAT?!?
PHIL: WHAT?!?
DEREK: That house over there!!!! It was dark a minute ago and now THERE'S A LIGHT ON IN THE KITCHEN!!
PHIL: Studio historians, help us here!
HISTORIAN: I can confirm that there is a STRONG POSSIBILITY that, at some point, a person DIED IN THIS VERY TOWN! And there is no evidence to suggest that it was not in that VERY KITCHEN!!
ALL: HEEELLLPPP!!!

An hour after the warmly received disappearance of The Datsuns, Velvet Revolver entered the stage to rapturous applause, particularly for Slash, possibly the greatest guitarist ever to not possess a face. Realising too late the inherent danger posed by being five rows back and surrounded by menacing seven foot waistlines, Amy and I were caught up in a thriving mass of humanity sharing the common belief that a blistering torrent of distorted noise can only be satisfactorily received by inflicting, at the very least, terminal injury on anyone unfortunate enough to be around you. We hastily retreated with some difficulty to the outskirts of the moshpit, ironically coinciding our escape with a rare ballad.

Velvet Revolver are a fearsome live proposition, as any band featuring 3/5 of the sadly lamented classic Guns'N'Roses line-up would be expected to be. Lead singer, Scott Weiland, originally of the Stone Temple Pilots, is a strange proposition though, specialising in mysterious streams of consciousness where he attempts to ascribe divine qualities to his art:

SCOTT: People say that rock'n'roll can change the world, y'know, f***, but, f***, f****** people is what it's all about, changing the f****** life of you people, f***, yeah, that's why I f****** do this cos it's f****** amazing how it's greeted and it like enters another dimension and I'm not at all f****** drugged up on every narcotic in the world obviously cos I've packed that s*** in completely hence the dead fish eyes and constant swearing and complete bollocks I'm spouting here and why I can't finish any sentences, but, y'know, f*** that, f*** you, f*** me and f*** f***.

Sadly, although I will be pilloried for saying this by hardcore fans who say 'shut up and stop living in the past!' in a desperate attempt to disguise the fact that the past was superior, the band obstinately refused to delve into the cream of the Guns'N'Roses catalogue, instead restricting themselves to their own (admittedly excellent) material and a number of intriguing covers. All five members displayed astonishing technical skill at times and particularly Slash, rare amongst talented lead guitarists in that he is content to restrict his solo ventures to under a minute. 'Slither' and 'Fall To Pieces', signature songs from Contraband, were particularly excellent, the former displaying a completely mastery of the sledgehammer riff and the latter an equally dominant mastery of the anthemic ballad. Unfortunately the sound quality in the Hammersmith Apollo was dire, unable to withstand the ferocity of the rhythm section and drowning a number of Slash's more discreet single-string wanderings in a tirade of white distortion, which though not terminal to the performance by any means was deeply irritating. It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that with superior sound quality and, subjectively, renditions of November Rain and Paradise City, the display would have been near perfect.

Ed's Rating: 9/10

Ed's Mood: Euphoric

Ed's Incessant Auto-Repeat Musical Tip: Velvet Revolver - Slither


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