Ah, so Phil and Tracii have been back at it again for roughly over three years. It started with a surprise appearance by Phil joining Tracii one night here in Vegas in December of 2013. It’s nice to see that they’ve patched things up, at least enough to make a go of it professionally again. Let’s face it; who ever really knows the truth, what with unlikely reunions happening regularly just for the money and all. Either way, who could blame them? In many cases, it beats keeping/taking a pay cut and/or getting a “real job” on the side or full time, whatever a “real job” even is these days. But I digress.
Anyway, on to setting the stage for the show. I believe they’ve played in town twice since, the last time, here as well, with two nights back-to-back like this time, if memory serves. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend either time. I was hoping to make it happen this time, as I hadn’t seen them perform as Guns since the Hollywood Vampires tour. I knew they’d put out a new studio album on Frontiers, The Missing Peace, in late ‘17, with a new one ready to drop shortly. I’d only heard one track from the former so far, but was excited to see new material performed live regardless of hearing the studio gems first. Personally, I think it’s great when a band from decades past still puts out new material, instead of becoming a nostalgia act simply coasting on past hits because it’s “easier,” “not profitable” to release new product, and/or thinking that most of the audience couldn’t care less about it other than to use the time new stuff is performed as a restroom break.
Curtains drawn, Ozzy music was used as a mood setting intro before launching into “The Devil Made Me Do It” off of the aforementioned last long player.
Their 90-minute, 18-song set was actually a couple of songs longer than the official setlist I got a photo of after. It was filled with the expected hits, yet Tracii weaved in a few choice instrumental breaks here and there to keep it interesting. The Page-like violin bow intro to “Over the Edge” was a nice touch, as were the “Paint It Black” and “Star Spangled Banner” snippets tacked onto “Sex Action.” Using the beginning of AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” to segue into “Never Enough” was clever. Playing five newer songs kept things fresh. Doing an instrumental during which Tracii traded leads with touring addition substitute axeman Ace Von Johnson (Faster Pussycat) was tasty. (Adam Hamilton, formerly on bass, is on second guitar for shorter tour runs.) Even throwing in “Don’t Look At Me That Way” off of Waking the Dead was a welcome surprise. And I especially dug the ballad off of TMP which to me gave a nod to The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun.”
Points off? Well, Phil did encounter a mic difficulty towards the end, but through no fault of his own. I’d be lying if I didn’t miss the classic lineup rhythm section, especially Riley on the skins, because the vintage songs felt a tad different to these ears, even though neither guy was a shoddy player. Minor quibbles though.
All in all, a cool outing. Even though the fake out of a full “Crystal Eyes” turned into a fitting intro to “The Ballad of Jayne.” In summary, catch them where/while you can, because the magic is back, silly naysayers dubbing them washed-up has beens be damned. Quite the contrary, I’d say.
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately no photos of this show were able to be taken due to a No Photo Policy on the night of our show review.