Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

VELVET REVOLVER
10.8 2004-08-13
Ice Hall, Helsinki FINLAND
Review and photos by Marko Syrjälä

There aren’t too many bands around who you can call “a super band” but Velvet Revolver is definitely one of them. Velvet Revolver’s debut album, Contraband, debuted at No.1 on The Billboard 200 chart, the best–ever debut for a rock artist in the Soundscan era. The album was recently certified platinum for sales of more than one million copies.

More than 5000 people witnessed the Velvet Revolver debut show in Finland. The expectations of this gig were very high and not the least because this band has three ex-members from one of the biggest bands in rock history, Guns ’n Roses.


 

The set started with opening track “Sucker Train Blues” from Contraband album and was followed with song “Do it for the Kids”. Slash got the crowd going and Scott Weiland was running and jumping at the front of the stage like a mad hatter as they next belted out another new track - “Headspace”. During “Illegal I Song” the band gave the audience some time to catch their breath when they decided to play an extended jam version and Slash did some splendid solos before they started the first Guns ’n Roses song of the night “It’s So Easy”.

More songs followed; “Fall To Pieces”, “Big Machine”, “Set Me Free”, “Used To Love Her” and “Slither” until “Sex Type Thing”, a song by Stone Temple Pilots, closed the set. They came back on stage after a couple of minutes and after a short drum solo which included a little “teaser”, the opening drum fill of “You Could Be Mine”. The band then slammed through the old gem “Mr Brownstone”. The Sex Pistols classic “Bodies” finished the set. It must be said that it is a good song, but most of the audience didn’t know what it was all about.

The highlights of the show happened (of course) when Slash and co. decided to open the “old book” and play a handful of old Guns ’n Roses stuff. “It’s So Easy”, “I Used To Love Her” and “Mr. Brownstone” totally blew the audience's collective mind. It’s important for them to play some of that old stuff but it’s great that they don’t play just best known classics like “Paradise City” or “Sweet Child O Mine” here. This band doesn’t want to be a cover band!
 

Both single cuts “Slither” and “Fall To Pieces” from Contraband, did get a good response and crowd appeared to know those quite well. For some reason the Finnish audience didn’t seem to know the Stone Temple Pilots material too well. It’s kind of strange because they used to be quite a big band here as well as the other grunge bands during it's unpleasant heyday in the middle nineties. And on the other hand, songs of Velvet Revolver aren’t too far from Stone Temple Pilots in my opinion.

During the past few years these guys have often been in headlines not only because of their musical achievements, but also because of their well known problems with drugs and alcohol. Actually this tour was very close to getting cancelled because of the problems Scott Weiland has with US authorities. Fortunately he made it to the tour and managed to do a solid and highly energetic performance with surprisingly good vocals. With your eyes closed it could have been easy to imagine that there was “someone” else singing on stage during Guns n Roses classics. Let’s hope that things will continue in a good way and Scott stays out of problems in the future.


With no doubt the star of the night was Slash himself. Maybe he looks a little older, I couldn’t tell for sure under all that hair! Otherwise he hasn’t changed a bit in the past 20 years. He gave a solid performance with some amazing solos. As for Duff, he also was playing and performing just like in old days. It’s hard to believe that it’s really fourteen years since I saw him on this same stage with Guns ’n Roses. The only difference is that he looks much healthier and he is in damn good shape right now. Matt Sorum was like he always been, a total professional on drums. Second guitar player Dave Kushner (ex-Wasted Youth, Cyco Mike) didn’t get too much room on the stage but he handles his duties well and even played some leads there and there.

Overall this concert was really good in every aspect. Pure rock music with great attitude!

Hopefully success of Velvet Revolver opens doors for other bands like this in the near future. If you want to find some negative things, there aren’t too many. The sound wasn’t the best possible which of course is not band's fault, but the whole concert lasted only 80 minutes!? It could be much longer because there is lot’s of stuff they could play from the past! I really hope that this band will go on and they release more albums in the future AND play longer gigs then…

This tour will last in Europe until the middle of September and after that it will continue in the U.S. If you have a chance, go and check them out. You will not be disappointed.

 


SET LIST:

01. Sucker Train Blues
02. Do It For The Kids
03. Crackerman (STP)
04. Illegal I Song
05. It’s So Easy (GNR)
06. Fall To Pieces
07. Big Machine
08. Set Me Free
09. Used To Love Her (GNR)
10. Slither
11. Sex Type Thing (STP)
12. Mr. Brownstone (GNR)
13. Bodies