Velvet Revolver, Hammersmith Apollo, London

Hammersmith Apollo, London

A banner slung across the stage proclaimed Rock & Fuckin' Roll, which made things plain enough, but singer Scott Weiland's first words were, "We play fuckin' rock'n'roll!" Nobody could say they weren't warned. What we got was 90 minutes of cock-centric guitar bashing with a breathtaking lack of sonic diversity.

Comprised of ex-members of Guns N' Roses, Stone Temple Pilots and the ubiquitous Electric Love Hogs, Velvet Revolver are the dream team of rock outfits. This introductory London date sold out months ago. Give the group their due: stints in rehab haven't affected the respective members' ability to boil up a racket. Songs from the platinum-selling debut album, Contraband, were every bit as ponderous as the handful of GN'R and Stone Temple covers that found their way into the show.

Given their former band's status, the Guns faction - guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum - might have been expected to dominate, but Templer Weiland proved the man to watch. Coquetting in leather and a peaked cap, waving a loudhailer, he broke the rock rule prohibiting ambiguity. While the others were stormingly macho - Slash especially so, glowering beneath that ludicrous mop of Charles II ringlets - Weiland shimmied like a pole dancer and lolled on the floor during the cavernous Guns tune Used to Love Her.

He was certainly a diversion from the unrelenting assault staged by Slash and second guitarist Dave Kushner. The pair had a superheated instrumental duel during Set Me Free, and probably broke every window in the area racing up the fretboard in the midst of Stone Temple's Cracker Man.

Guns may be able to survive without the charismatic Axl, but can they overcome the self-limiting urge to be the loudest band on the planet?


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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