ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, APRIL 7, 2005
By Steve Newton
On the way in to the Velvet Revolver gig, it was weird to see heaps of seized chewing-gum packages lying on tables next to the security crews that were frisking folks. I recall 20 years back, at the height of the heavy-metal craze, how those same tables would overflow with confiscated items like studded-leather wristbands and spiked dog collars, things that could actually harm a person.
At least now you can safely see a raunchy rock show in Vancouver without the imminent threat of getting gum in your hair.
In case any belligerent chewers weren’t willing to part with their Excel, large numbers of the city’s finest were on hand to help persuade ’em. Word had evidently gotten around the cop shop that Velvet Revolver includes ex-members of Guns N’ Roses, a group that-after that wild riot at GM Place in 2002-isn’t tops on the VPD’s Hot 100. And it looked as though the police might be kept busy, with half of Surrey in attendance, wasted and whooping it up.
Half of Surrey had waited some time-or at least since last fall’s Van Halen show-for an arena-rock band of note to grace the ol’ hockey rink. Seven thousand five hundred of them paid upward of 75 bucks for the opportunity to see how violently this newish amalgam of GN’R and Stone Temple Pilots would shake those wooden rafters.
VR showed them on the very first tune, when bassist Duff McKagan took centre stage and started churning out the propulsive intro to “Sucker Train Blues”, the opening track off the quintet’s debut, Contraband. Drummer Matt Sorum and guitarists Slash and Dave Kushner dove in just as the stage was blasted with white strobe lighting, and seconds later vocalist Scott Weiland took over, bellowing about somebody raping his “tapeworm abortion”. The lyrics lost me, but the combination of sound and visuals resulted in one of those cranium-tingling rushes I rarely get at concerts these days. Evidently Slash hadn’t lied when he claimed recently that his band has a genuine hunger.
Weiland is an incredible rock star on-stage. I’d never experienced the Stone Temple Pilots in concert, but now I understand why they were a live act worth raving about. He’s got the energy of Mick Jagger and the charisma of David Bowie, and throws in patented Axl Rose twirls for the hell of it. I’ve never seen anyone handle a bullhorn quite as well.
The only weak points in Velvet Revolver’s regular set were Weiland’s ill-conceived diatribe against corporations (the band does get paid by Sony/BMG, after all) and Slash’s interminable talk-box solo. The aging quintet also seemed to burn itself out after an hour, with the performance level slipping through the two encores. It sure was nice to hear them resurrect the Stones’ “Star Star”, from Goat’s Head Soup, though. It’s got a chorus that just kills.