Velvet Revolver / Alice In Chains – Live In Vancouver: September 7, 2007

Velvet Revolver/Alice In Chains
Friday, September 7, 2007
Pacific Coliseum
Vancouver, BC  Canada


***Live Review and All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland

When Velvet Revolver last sped through Vancouver in March 2005 (read review HERE), it was in support of their much-hyped debut album, CONTRABAND, and they were headlining a modern rock radio package with openers Three Days Grace, a totally forgettable third-rate Nickelback clone.  A lot can happen in eighteen months and in that time, Velvet Revolver has released its sophomore album, LIBERTAD, and their stock has risen immensely, as well.  For this leg of the Re-Evolution Tour, the band hooked up with nineties powerhouse, Alice In Chains, who are having quite the resurgence of late themselves. 

(***Photos of Alice In Chains were, sadly, a missed opportunity.) 

The passing of vocalist Layne Staley in 2002 saw Alice In Chains put to bed for three years out of respect for Staley’s legacy.  A few appearances were done with various vocalists including Tool’s Maynard James Keenan, Damageplan’s Patrick Lachmann, Down’s Philip Anselmo and Heart’s Ann Wilson but a “reunion” was never really mentioned.  Then it was announced that William DuVall, who had previously sang with Jerry Cantrell’s solo band, would fill the spot permanently and after hearing DuVall live, the band truly could not have found a better person.  DuVall literally becomes Staley, almost to a fault, sound-wise.  Whether crooning mournfully on “Nutshell” or tearing through “Dam That River” and “Them Bones,” DuVall clicked.  Having Cantrell harmonizing certainly helps re-create the classic Alice In Chains sound but DuVall can clearly nail it himself, as well.  Cantrell’s slow, sludgy riffs on “Rain When I Die” and “Grind” still hit like a bulldozer and the instantly recognizable bassline from Mike Inez that kicks off “Would?” got the crowd fired up immediately.  The biggest response, though, was reserved for set closer “Rooster” which featured the clips of war and bloodshed that are in the music video on screens behind the band.  DuVall doesn’t have the natural, quivering pain in his voice that Staley possessed but the profound lyrics and overall ambience of the song in the live setting was massive.  Of course “Down In A Hole” and “Angry Chair” were notable omissions but for their one-hour set, Alice In Chains were rock solid and arguably stole the show from the headliners.  With new music in the works and an unwavering legacy, look for Alice In Chains to have a very big year in 2008.

We Die Young
Them Bones
Dam That River
Rain When I Die
It Ain’t Like That
Man In The Box

With a second album of original material in which to draw from, Velvet Revolver’s setlist was much more focused this time around than their previous visit which showcased eleven of the thirteen songs from CONTRABAND and was padded with Guns ‘n Roses and Stone Temple Pilots tracks that strung things out over 100 minutes.  As interesting as it was to hear Scott Weiland belting out “Mr. Brownstone” and Slash tearing up the solo on “Crackerman,” no band with only one album under its belt should be on stage for nearly two hours.  Musically, LIBERTAD is hit-and-miss with a strong first half but the back nine just falls apart and is much less consistent than CONTRABAND overall.  For their live set, eight of the thirteen tracks from LIBERTAD and seven of thirteen from CONTRABAND, plus the ubiquitous GnR and STP hits, kept the crowd’s spirit up for the entire hour-and-forty-five-minutes.  Strangely prefaced by N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton,” a large black curtain and backlight provided the necessary shadow for Slash’s searing intro riff to “Let It Roll.”  Hidden behind his mop of hair and trademark top hat, Slash remains one of the most impressive guitarists in music today.  His shredding solo on “Set Me Free” was electric—not to mention him playing behind his neck—as was the outro to “Slither” but on “Mr. Brownstone” and “Sex Type Thing,” he really let loose with searing leads.  Weiland is one of the most naturally-gifted frontmen I have ever seen perform on stage.  His fluid, serpentine movements and charismatic demeanor are augmented by a keen likeness to Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Iggy Pop all rolled into one.  His fondness for using a megaphone on what seemed like every other song was unnecessary and got a bit annoying but his flawless vocal performance almost negated that point.  Besides, hearing Weiland bellow “I see you standing there/You think you’re so cool/Why don’t you just…FUCK OFF” from “It’s So Easy” was almost worth the ticket price itself.  Rhythm guitarist Dave Kushner remains dwarfed by the caliber of the rest of the members, though, and this fact was never more obvious than during the three-song acoustic performance where the entire band sat on stools at the front of the stage under individual spotlights—except Kushner.  Sandwiched at the halfway point of the set, “The Last Fight,” “Interstate Love Song” and “Patience” were given the acoustic treatment complete with a mini kit for Sorum.  “The Last Fight” is one of the standout tracks from LIBERTAD and benefited from the reworking but “Patience” was nearly identical to the original.  Duff McKagen’s chunky bass intro to “Sucker Train Blues,” the dark, moody percussive section that opens “Slither” and the comfortable groove of “She Builds Quick Machines” showcase what a powerful rhythm section lies in McKagen and Matt Sorum.  Looking tanned and fit, McKagen is nothing like the ruddy-faced punk of yesteryear even though his former bandmate, ex-Annihilator vocalist Randy Rampage, sat next to me in the VIP booth to take in the show and shared the second-hand smoke of what felt like several hundred cigarettes with me.       

Let It Roll
She Mine
Sucker Train Blues
Do It For The Kids
Big Machine
Pills, Demons & Etc.
The Last Fight
Interstate Love Song
It’s So Easy
Just Sixteen
Get Out The Door
Fall To Pieces
She Builds Quick Machines
Set Me Free
Mr. Brownstone
Sex Type Thing
Don’t Drop That Dime (Pre-recorded outro)


Velvet Revolver continues their ascension to stratospheric superstardom and their live show is clearly becoming more streamlined and energetic, as well.  Finding LIBERTAD’s more tepid material like “Pills, Demons & Etc.” and “Just Sixteen” included in the set was a major drain on enthusiasm but with a growing catalogue—and one hell of a history—there is no sign of slowing down for them.  They appear to be enjoying themselves, too, something that lacked in fellow “supergroup,” Audioslave, and led to the timely implosion of that band earlier this year.  As for Alice In Chains, they have defied the odds and are poised for what will surely be a major comeback.  The death of Layne Staley, while hardly a surprise given his chosen lifestyle, was still shocking and sad.  Many will criticize Alice In Chains for returning to the stage but they have done so carefully and obviously with a great deal of trepidation, thankfully bypassing the gaudy spectacle that INXS chose to recruit their new singer following the death of Michael Hutchence.  Both Velvet Revolver and Alice In Chains have dealt with their share of tragedy and obstacles over the years but based on this show alone, the two acts prove the old adage that whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

***Thanks to Kelli at Live Nation for the press pass.


Velvet Revolver—Official Site
Alice In Chains—Official Site



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