Live Review and Live Photos by Robert Cavuoto
Twitter : @RobertCavuoto
The Mayors of the Sunset Strip, L.A. Guns, and Faster Pussycat have united for the Sonic Slam 2022 Tour that brings the best of the 80s thru the present day to the “City that Never Sleeps” on June 6, 2022.
Raised on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles with the Whisky A Go-Go, Gazzarri’s, and The Rainbow in their backyard, L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat are celebrating their grindhouse brand of sexy, sleazy, and gritty rock with this summer tour. If you came to this concert for a lesson in mortality, you’re in the wrong place with songs like “Sex Action” or “Where There’s a Whip There’s a Way.”
On an already hot Monday night in New York City, Faster Pussycat turned up the heat a few more degrees with their performance at Sony Hall. Along with the heat, Faster Pussycat brought a level of excitement and fun to their diehard fans as well as the first-timers.
Gone are the days of spandex, head scarves, and hairspray, and now replaced with the concrete cowboy look of distressed cowboy hats, black jeans, and biker jackets; ushering in a meaner and more intimating look for the band.
Founding member and driving force of Faster Pussycat is Taime Downe has assembled four like-minded musicians who carry the torch for the band and their brand of music; they are Danny Nordahl [bass], Chad Stewart [drums], Sam “Bam” Koltun [guitar], and Ronnie Simmons [guitar]. Together they crammed as many sexually charged double entendre songs into their hour set as possible, from the bluesy “Cathouse” to the rocking “Slip of the Tongue,” “Bathroom Wall,” and “Babylon.” The night would not be complete without the band’s MTV hit “House of Pain” off the band’s 1987 album, Wake Me When It’s Over. Many of their songs performed tonight were MTV staples designed to showcase Taime’s raspy vocals. Each song was played with the passion it deserved, and the fans ate it up. Their set list prominently covered four of their key albums.
Cigarette in hand, snarl on his lips, clutching his microphone, and drenched in sweat, Taime sang every song with passion and exuded rock-star charisma. He is a tremendous frontman, ring leader, and party host!
Sam “Bam” Koltun and Ronnie Simmons displayed some impressive guitar playing and brought their own swagger to the stage as they took the spotlight for the solos providing the rock star posturing. Their solos were flawless, and they played guitar with a sense of fury.
Without any props, pyro, or stage gimmicks, these five guys just rocked relentlessly out to groove-inspired songs with killer riffs and leads. All 12 songs, regardless of when they were written or by who, were played with a sense of ferocity. After tonight’s performance, you could argue who was having more fun, the fans or the band, as it was an impressive show.
Hedonistic rockers Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns, along with Johnny Martin [bass], Ace Von Johnson [guitar], and Shawn Duncan [drums], put on one hell of a show. As the stage lights darkened, Tracii’s hair-raising opening riff to “Cannonball” got the fists immediately in the air, then followed it up with “Electric Gypsy.” From their 1988 debut album to their most recent 2021 release, Checkered Past, L.A. Guns flowed 13 live songs seamlessly into their show, including “Over the Edge,” “The Ballad of Jayne,” “Sex Action,” “Gone Honey,” and “One More Reason.” The band has an uncanny ability to develop songs that offer a wide variety of styles and tie the collection together with a ribbon, so they all sound like a cohesive unit when played live; whether written three decades ago or brand new.
There are so many gems in this band’s crown that it’s impossible to play all of them in a 70-minute set. They did manage to pick the best-of-the-best tonight. Songs that are tailor-made for crowd sing-alongs and chants like “Speed.” If you closed your eyes, L.A. Guns almost made you believe you were back on Sunset Strip in the 80s.
It’s hard not to get excited seeing Tracii and Phil back on stage together. After a decade or two of separation, they rekindled the musical connection for their brilliant 2017 release, The Missing Peace. Together they commanded the stage, all yet giving each member time to shine. Ace was a madman on stage, killing it with some guitar acrobatics and teaming up with Tracii on some harmony solos. Wearing shades, Johnny delivered his unique vigor and power when hitting the four strings. He had the talent to easily switch his style from smooth and melodic to hard-attacking. He held down the fort and provided the backing vocals. He was also in lockstep with new drummer Shawn ensuring that a beat wouldn’t be missed.
Phil was donning an “I Love New York” shirt which he told the crowd he had for years. His stage presence was magnetic, and can still hit the high notes with perfect clarity while holding the long notes effortlessly, which was evident during “Rip and Tear.” He exuded more charisma and vocal strength than singers half his age and was his own realm of excellence.
It was impossible to miss the wild stage antics of Tracii that were put forth in front of our steamy eyes. The man attacked and muscled his two Gibson Les Pauls with wild abandon. This was accomplished without him missing a note the entire night, solos included.
It was a testament to the strength of both of these veteran rock bands’ love for their fans that packed the venue and their dynamic musicianship. The concert took the audience on a time-traveling experience when rebels wore black leather, and both bands never took their foot off the gas. Not many bands today genuinely embody the spirit of rock, many try, only a few succeed, but L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat hit the mark.
Tickets to the Sonic Slam Tour can be purchased here: https://www.lagunsmusic.com/tour