Chemical imbalance

Velvet Revolver, Avalon, May 16, 2007
By JAMES PARKER  |  May 21, 2007
CLASSIC RUINS: Velvet Revolver are both very obvious and not obvious enough.
“We’re Velvet Revolver . . . and we still play motherfucking rock ’n’ roll!” gasped Scott Weiland at Avalon last Wednesday night. Too bad. The band’s name, so louche and phallic, so rock-star-naughty, would be more interesting if its bearers were a barbershop quartet or a mime troupe. (One imagines the list of rejected possibilities: Satin Six Gun, Plush Pistol, Furry Firearm . . . ) Heaped together from two ruins of the 1990s — Guns N’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots — Velvet Revolver are a sort of post-rock experience. Slash wears his top hat and shades, platinum bass bimbo Duff McKagan stands with spraddled punk-rock legs, and Weiland is a spindly sex Nazi in a peaked cap, writhing to the bar-band chord sequences. Ex-GNR drummer Matt Sorum is playing a stadium in his mind: like a pro wrestler he grandly telegraphs every move, every snare stroke and cymbal tap and musicianly grimace, right to the back of the club. Apart from Weiland — who still manages to give off an authentic sizzle of superstar wreckage — they all have chemically weathered skin and personal-trainer physiques.

Velvet Revolver’s glam/punk chug-a-lug thing is very obvious, but then again not quite obvious enough: at the very moment at which it should be totally crass, it becomes tasteful. The crowd was loyally into it — I think I recognized every single person there from last year’s (much better) Cult show — but repeated airings of material from the upcoming Libertad (RCA) wore everybody down. And when Weiland wobbled shirtless into a between-song monologue about this country, fuckin’ . . . religion, and people fuckin’ coming together, there were bovine rumbles of disgruntlement. (“Shut up and sing!” lowed someone nearby.) A strobe-jarred version of Stone Temple Pilots’ “Vaseline” was the highlight of the night, with Weiland doing an insectile moonwalk round and round the stage at high speed; that was followed by the rehab anthem “Pieces,” during which beers were hoisted and men bravely gripped one another’s shoulders. Then they encored with GNR’s “Used To Love Her,” and I picked up my petticoat and sprinted for the door.
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