Velvet Revolver @ Wolverhampton Civic Hall – 22nd March 2008

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It was only two nights ago at the Glasgow Carling Academy that Scott Weiland decided to announce that this would be the last Velvet Revolver tour. Apparently the rest of the band were as surprised as the fans and some “on-stage bickering” flared up. There’s been no official news thus far but judging by the way they take to the stage tonight I wouldn’t be surprised if Scott neglects to bring it up again.

Besides the fact that Velvet Revolver is made up of seasoned veterans from the rock ‘n’ roll world, there seems to be a hell of a lot of credentials in the building tonight. Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant came to see his 16-year-old son play drums for AurA, the opening band tonight, and Meat Loaf’s daughter, Pearl Aday, fronts the self-titled second support along with fiancé Scott Ian, from Anthrax, on guitar.

I know what you’re thinking – it has all the ingredients of an over-embellished rock ‘n’ roll fairytale.

With this in mind I think everyone on stage tonight was out to impress. AurA have a surprisingly mature sound for a band so young – you can hear the Zeppelin influence in their music and singer Dave Small struts across the stage like Jagger and Weiland combined. They’ve supported Status Quo, they’re billed for Download in June and they can now add Velvet Revolver to the list. These boys are doing something right, so keep your eyes peeled for them in future.

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Pearl keeps things rolling with all the gusto and gravitas you’d come to expect from someone who used to tour as a backing singer for Meat Loaf and Mötley Crüe. She has the stage presence to suit the band’s power rock prowess, cocking her leg up onto the monitor every now and then in classic rock form, and has the crowd eating out the palm of her hand. Musically, it’s a bit of a change in direction for Scott Ian but he paces around the stage grinning and head-banging, and thanks the audience for having “good fucking taste!”

At about quarter past nine the lights go down and the swarming noise of cheering takes over. The crowd tonight is probably split 50/50 between young and old but by the time Velvet Revolver are three songs in there are plenty of 45-year-olds hastily crowd surfing and grasping toward the band with the rabid fascination of an over-eager 16-year-old.

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The band open with ‘Let It Roll’ and continue to play through songs from both Contraband and Libertad in equal measure, effortlessly holding the crowd’s attention for six more songs. In true rock star fashion Weiland decides to disobey the law of the land and lights a cigarette during ‘The Last Fight’ as the set begins to slow down. I don’t think it would have looked right to see Slash on stage without a cigarette dangling from his lips either and he soon follows suit.

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One of the biggest crowd pleasers tonight is ‘Fall To Pieces’, the closest thing Velvet Revolver have to a ballad, and covers of ‘Mr. Brownstone’, ‘Sex Type Thing’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ are nothing less than impressive. The band as a whole are faultless and but it’s difficult to let your eyes wander away from Slash or Weiland who are on top form tonight – Weiland wearing sunglasses, a captain’s hat and a Black Label Society vest at one point climbs on top of the speakers and writhes around the stage while Slash, complete with double-neck guitars and playing solos behind his head, epitomises the brooding nonchalant icon he’s become famous for.

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They left the stage to rapturous applause after an hour and forty-five minutes and left me with the inkling that this one might be one to remember – tonight looked like a master class in everything rock ‘n’ roll… and to be honest, it didn’t sound too bad either.

Review – Ash Carter
Photos – Steve Gerrard

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