Ever since the Velvet Revolver tour was announced, we’d worried it wouldn’t happen. Would lead singer Scott Weiland be able to keep out of both jail and rehab long enough to rock twenty cities? Well, he’s pulled it off—for now.
On the first night of their twenty-city tour, beginning in St. Louis and concluding in Denver, the sold-out crowd at the Pageant couldn’t wait for the action to start. There was no doubt this evening would be a full-on RAWK! show.
First up was the opener, Silvertide, from Philadelphia. Are we back in the 70s or what? We’re talking peace sign patches on ripped bell bottoms, cowboy boots, and shoulder-length hair. This retro-band looks like Lynryd Skynrd, lays on the big cheesy Ted Nugent-style guitar jams, and closes out each song with a huge ba-domp-bomp of drums and a cymbal crash.
When you think it can’t get any sillier, lead singer Walt Lafty traded in his cowboy shirt for a suede fringed vest and dove into a number like a parody of Big Brother and the Holding Company, with him in the role of a shrill, shaking, emoting Janis Joplin. And hell if he didn’t pull it off, although I’d rather have heard him singing “Try a Little Harder” or “Me and Bobby McGee.”
It may not be the best sign for a concert when between bands, the house system played the coolest music of the night so far. As the roadies cleared Silvertide’s stuff off, we grooved to Prodigy, the Dandy Warhols, The Hives and Jesus and Mary Chain, anxiously awaiting the lights on the darkened stage to rise up and give us what we waited for.
Scott Weiland took the stage looking like a cross between Adam Ant and the police officer in the Village People. Slash, Duff, and the GNR boys haven’t changed a bit—and that includes the notes they play.
Considering that Velvet Revolver is the sum of two post-classic rock bands, the sound of their new CD is fairly fresh, given Weiland’s cool voice.
“Some of this shit you never heard cuz the album isn’t out yet, so just dig it,” he said of the new material. But there was not enough new material—only a sprinkling throughout what felt like a GNR show.
Gyrating like a stripper and spinning about the stage, the manic Weiland held everyone’s attention while Slash struck muscley guitar poses. Scott, Slash and Duff all worked the crowd intensely, meandering past the sound board and off to the farthest edges of the stage to posture for those on the fringe. Weiland surfed into and even walked on top of the crowd a couple times (losing a valuable ear monitor that he subsequently had to beg for with bribes of free tickets, t-shirts, and backstage passes).
“Fall to Pieces” is a new track Weiland introduced, saying, “this is what was happening in my head when I thought I was gonna lose my wife. It was a fucked up period for me. But I got her back now and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
“Let’s hear it for rock and roll!” Weiland shouted to the audience. “I’m talking American rock and roll! I’m not talking about funk shit! I’m not talking about nu metal! I’m talking about blues-based American rock and roll!”
Duff McKagan added, “St. Louis is the most rock and roll town in America!” At about this time, one half-expected an American flag to drape down and a surprise walk-on from Mr. GWB himself. Thank God, neither happened.
“Now what we have here is a big rock single,” Weiland said unabashed as they exploded into their radio hit, “Slither.” A cover of Stone Temple Pilots’ “Sex Type Thing” was the highlight of the night, musically speaking, and Weiland does know how to play his charms to the hilt; working the crowd and raising cheers with the house lights like a god. But aside from STP’s other hit, “Crackerman,” the set was overloaded with GNR including “It’s So Easy,” “Mr. Brownstone,” and “I Used To Love Her (But I Had To Kill Her),” that jaunty little tune that shouts irony on so many levels, given Weiland’s history of spousal abuse.
Sure, it was exciting to see Scott Weiland up close and in the flesh. “Put your hands up, boys and girls, cuz what you see you won’t see again. Not like this. Not this place.” He immodestly referred to the big stadium shows in their future. And of course, it was fun seeing the GNR boys (Slash, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum, as well as Wasted Youth’s Dave Kushner), rock the stage in the balls-to-the-walls spirit of yesteryear. But the fact is, it was a Guns N Roses show with a less annoying singer. Velvet Revolver are great musicians and true performers. If only they could reach forward, instead of backward, for their sound.