Dancin’ With Mr. Brownstone October 10, 2007Posted by Matt in concert, music.
Tags: alice in chains, concert, guns n roses, music, velvet revolver
Originally Posted 10/10/07
Real, honest to goodness rock music is built on one concept that everything good (or bad depending on your perspective) stems from – rebellion. All of the sex, drugs, and crashing guitars basically come down to this one spirit of revolution, an insurgency of sorts against parents and other authority figures just for the sake of doing it. It’s about going against the grain, defying a status quo deemed to be oppressive (but most often is nothing of the sort) and resolutely affirming our independence with a big, single-finger salute. Whether it’s through swiveling hips or thumping basslines far beyond the endurable threshold of the human ear, every generation drives the older ones crazy with it.
And that’s what we love about it.
I remember as a preteen kid in the late 80’s being introduced to bands like Guns N’ Roses, who totally blew my young mind with their heavy riffs and incredibly (at least for me at that time) vulgar lyrics. It was music that set my young pulse ablaze and left me always yearning for more. As the 1990’s dawned and I entered those teenage years that are so rocky and unpredictable for boys (and I’m sure for girls also), the music scene changed and my cassette tape collection expanded to include this new brand of music stemming from the Pacific northeast that included everything from the nihilistic screams of Kurt Cobain to the straight-ahead rock of Pearl Jam, from the dirge-like sounds of Alice in Chains to the always-changing Stone Temple Pilots. And I played and played and played these albums and songs over and over again, never tiring of the sounds of my seemingly hopeless generation. It was before file sharing and Ipods, when even CDs were still in their fledgling state, and it was an incredible era to live through.
Last night I was able to relive some of those memories.
As you’ve probably read on here the last few days, I was given two tickets to last night’s Velvet Revolver/Alice in Chains concert in the city we now call home, Southaven. My anticipation for this show was as high as any in memory, even though I don’t generally listen to music of this heavier genre much anymore. In case you are unfamiliar with them, Velvet Revolver is the combination of some of the former members of Guns N’ Roses (Slash, Duff McKagen, and Matt Sorum) along with the former lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots, Scott Weiland. Alice in Chains’ lead singer, Layne Staley, died from a drug overdose several years ago and they have just recently reformed with singer William DuVall from the band Comes With the Fall.
D and I arrived at the amphitheater around 7:00, with plenty of time to grab a $5 (whew!) beer and find a nice, unobstructed spot on the hillside from which to watch the upcoming spectacle. At 7:30, AIC hit the stage with a vengeance, tearing through songs like “Grind” and “Sludge Factory,” with incredible ferocity. Jerry Cantrell’s guitar sound was heavy and deep, like a dropped-D tuning played in a big pool of mud. Shortly thereafter they ripped through back-to-back versions of “We Die Young” and “Them Bones,” with the enthusiastic crowd belting out every word, “I feel so alone, gonna end up a big ol’ pile of them bones!” Mike Inez pulled out all the stops on his bass with the opening line to “Rain When I Die,” literally shaking the solid ground beneath our feet with an unbelievable heaviness. They tore through everything you would expect, “Angry Chair,” “Would,” “Man in the Box” and the crowd devoured every heavy, gut-rattling note. For the final number, Slash joined them onstage for their biggest and final song, “Rooster,” while the video screen behind them flashed pictures from Vietnam (which the song is about) and our current conflict in Iraq, complete with pictures of our illustrious president and things like, “Bush lied, thousands died.” While I’m not big on political statements at concerts, I’ll cut Alice some slack because they flat-out rocked.
After waiting an hour after the final chords from Cantrell’s guitar faded away into the Mississippi night, Velvet Revolver walked onto the stage and were greeted with a deafening cheer from the thousands of devoted fans. Slash looked nearly the same as he did 20 years ago, when G N’ R were just a group of LA rockers hitting it big, with his oversized tophat, long black hair, sunglasses, and a requisite cigarette hanging from his lips. Weiland was a maniac onstage, running about like a madman and climbing onto every surface he could find. He strutted like Mick Jagger and then glided along the stage and atop the amps like a sleek cat looking for its prey. The band tore through several of their tunes, “Set Me Free,” “She Builds Quick Machines,” and “Fall to Pieces,” (to name a few), with Slash churning out riff after lumbering riff with the precision of a Ginsu knife. Their version of STP’s “Vaseline” was killer with the screen flashing psychedelic images at a breakneck pace while the band galloped along, before they slowed things down a bit for a short acoustic selection that included “Interstate Love Song” and “Patience” – which painfully showed Weiland’s vocal limitations compared to Axl Rose’s (he could not get anywhere near Axl’s screamed, “I’ve been walking the streets at night…). As one of their final songs before the encore, the band ripped up G N’ R’s ode to vulgarity, “It’s So Easy,” leaving the crowd yelling for more.
Soon, they returned for an encore that brought the whole arena down, beginning with G N R’s “Mr. Brownstone,” immediately followed by “Sex Type Thing,” and again the crowd went absolutely crazy. Weiland then went on some strange Jim Morrison-esque tirade of bad beat poetry set to a beat from the band that I just didn’t really get, but the final song, Velvet Revolver’s “Slither,” was a rollicking good time and we left drained of energy, but satisfied that we had just witnessed one of the last truly great rock bands.