(Live Review) L.A. GUNS + SUPPORT - The Forge, Joliet Ill. (2/1/24)
The Beard & Little Johnny
Tonight, the Beard and Little Johnny are attending show number two of our 2024 season. Availing ourselves of an unscheduled opportunity, the dynamic reviewing duo are at The Forge in Joliet, Illinois as comped guests of Black Horizon Brewing (of Willowbrook), who are unveiling their latest release “Mosh God.”
Little Johnny has been looking for a beer sponsorship, so we clearly could not pass this opportunity up. The evening's music was provided by LA Guns, with support from Yet Again and Ricky Liontones.
First, concerning the beer, Mosh God, (to Little Johnny's disappointment), was a Mexican Lager and not an IPA. That said, it had a cool design and did at least taste like a Mexican Lager. (Think Corona on steroids.) Decent, but still not the perfect match the lad had been hoping for. To be fair though, Black Horizon Brewing was not exactly offering him any contracts either. Still, we each had a couple and the fact we did not pay the ten dollars apiece did improve the experience.
First up tonight was Chicago based artist Ricky Liontones who describes his music as Bowie meets Queens of the Stone Age.
A four-piece band, Liontone himself did have a bit of that Lion look with his hair and beard. Johnny also thought his shoes were seriously cool. While I am not sure about the Bowie aspect, (I would have said more like The Doors later stage and sans keyboard), but I could see a Queens of the Stone Age meets the Blues kind of thing. The songs had some nice hooks and solos that dipped a foot in each genre’s pond. The rest of Liontones' band was pretty nondescript in both look and sound, and although Liontones' voice was okay, it was not great and could have been clearer. (As the opening act though, some of this “could” have been the sound board mix as well.)
All that aside, Liontone’s group were at least doing original stuff without autotune so I will allow points for both. I was cool with his/their 30 minutes and although I think they are limited in their future upward mobility if nothing else changes, they made a serviceable opening act. Johnny was sad the merch table did not have Liontones boots for sale. “He is the opener little dude. I am afraid it is just t-shirts.”
I am calling it a 76/100.
In the second slot tonight were Chicago’s five-piece rock band Yet Again.
Yet Again is a glorified American rock bar band. They have a tightness from playing together and there is musicianship (primarily from lead guitarist Chris Jones). Their vocalist is fine, but I quickly realized this is the type of band you have on, in the background, while you do something else. They are not the focal point. There is just nothing that is “must see”. I watched their 40-minute set but was never moved by it, other than to think their covers of “American Woman” and “Bulls on Parade” were both pretty good.
Johnny, likewise, drank his Mosh God beer and watched without much emotion or movement.
Yet again gets a 68/100.
Headlining tonight’s event were longtime LA 80’s Glam Metal act L.A. Guns.
After forty years and fourteen releases, The Beard can honestly say I have never paid any attention to L.A. Guns and tonight was the first live set I have ever witnessed. Historically, L.A. Guns was the part of Guns N' Roses that did not become mega-millionaires, although the non-GnR members that kept L.A. Guns going did enjoy a modicum of success in the late 80’s/early 90’s with such albums as Cocked & Loaded (1989) and Hollywood Vampires (1991).
The onslaught of all things grunge in the 90’s made L.A. Guns an afterthought through much of that decade and into the new millennium. Constant lineup changes and subpar releases really kept this band from anything other than a supporting role existence for about fifteen years despite releasing six albums in that time.
In 2006, Tracii Guns, (having legally secured the rights to the name), officially changed The Tracii Guns Band back to L.A. Guns and soldiered on until 2012 with even more lineup changes. From 2012-16 Tracii Guns stepped away from the band citing burnout and a desire to do something fresh. The band limped along until Tracii returned in 2016 and reunited with vocalist Phil Lewis after a fourteen-year separation. After some more legal battles over name ownership, (as there were multiple versions of L.A. Guns playing live), the Tracii Guns & Phil Lewis lineup was declared “Official LA Guns” and this version is what we will be listening to tonight. (ED: Lucky you!)
I do have to say it is a full house for a Thursday night. General Admission is packed and reserved seats are sold out. So, there was a responsive crowd when Tracii Guns and his band hit the Forge stage with “Cannonball” from 2021’s Checkered Past release.
L.A. Guns have style and present as a professional touring band, although vocalist Phil Lewis should NOT have picked a black and white striped sleeveless outfit. That was not a winning look, more like Rock'n'Roll convict. (Ed: For perpetrating hair metal on the masses perhaps?) Guitarist Tracii Guns though is clearly what the band is built around and he proved his capabilities on several solos that were above average.
The rhythm section, of Johnny Martin (Bass) & Shawn Duncan (Drums) were also not bad. L.A. Guns new stuff captures the spirit of 1980’s Glam Metal but infused a more current sound, while the older stuff sounded tired, but generated more crowd adulation. I found the new material as well as most old material was all new to me and I actually preferred the newer stuff as the band seemed more enthused about it and therefore it was a fresher, more spirited performance. That said, I understand why the crowd popped bigger for songs like “Over the Edge,” or “I Want To Be Your Man.” If you ARE a fan, you want the hits.
L.A. Guns can still be a bit pretentious, but honestly they were better than I expected, and I was glad to have seen them. The biggest crowd response was on “Kiss My Love Goodbye” where the audience sang the chorus loudly each time. In one additional surprise, I actually knew the song “Never Enough.”
As a whole, L.A. Guns did give a legitimate Rock'N'Roll set. The Beard awards L.A. Guns 84/100 (which was more than I had expected). (Ed: Free beer will entice you to attend anything, Beard!)
So, that wraps up show number two and bands 5-7 of 2024. Remember to catch our reviews on host site The Mighty Decibel, videos on our TikTok site Thebeard0728, and of course all our non-metal reviews on Facebook.
Until next time, this is the Beard & Little Johnny saying ...
Stay Metal & Horns Up!!!