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Concert Reviews:
Velvet Revolver Brings Big Rock Show To DTE
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- If you're going to have a big rock show, it helps to have some big rock stars -- which was certainly the case Monday night (August 27th) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

Most of the members of Velvet Revolver were rock stars before the group formed in 2002, of course, thanks to pedigrees from Guns N' Roses and Stone Temple Pilots. So they knew how to carry themselves during their one-hour, 45-minute show, from the poses to the flow of movement on the stage and the dynamic ebb-and-flow of the 21-song set. Impossibly thin and frequently shirtless frontman Scott Weiland was a frenetic force as he twirled and stalked around the stage, while the top-hatted Slash was every bit the prototypical guitar hero, conveying energy even when standing stock still with his instrument cocked into his hip.

It both helps and hinders Velvet Revolver that the quintet has not disowned its collective pasts. Though the bulk of Monday's concert was drawn from the band's two albums, it also dipped into the GNR catalog for favorites such as "Patience," "It's So Easy" and "Mr. Brownstone," and into Weiland's STP canon for "Vasoline," "Interstate Love Song" and "Sex Type Thing." But it wasn't hard to notice that all of those drew a greater crowd response than any of Velvet Revolver's own material, a rub that's understandable but unfortunate for a group that's trying to stake its own claim as well.

And the shame of that is that the Velvet Revolver songs hold up well, even next to their more famous predecessors. Like GNR and STP, the group stirs together a blend of punk, heavy metal and good ol' fashioned glam rock with mostly good results, whether it's slamming out the likes of "Let it Roll," "She Mine," "Suckertrain" or "Slither" or prompting a sea of lighters and cell phones for power ballads like "The Last Fight," "Gravedancer" and "Fall to Pieces." A rear-stage screen flashed images and visuals throughout the night, while risers at the front allowed the musicians to stand even taller above their audience -- the heights to which all BIG rock stars aspire.

Velvet Revolver did get a push from opening act Alice in Chains, however, one of the more durable groups to come out of the Northwest's so-called "grunge" scene in the late '80s and early '90s. With William Duvall capably stepping in for the late frontman Layne Staley, the quartet was as taut and as it was in its heyday, though anyone who saw its epic performance last November at the Emerald Ballroom in Mt. Clemens knew that Monday's 50-minute set was just a taste of what the group can really deliver.

But even with some of the hits left at home, Alice in Chains -- whose guitarist, Jerry Cantrell, remains the group's primary force -- still pinned the crowd's ears back with its leaden brand of hard rock and a career-spanning collection that included "Again," "Grind," "Dam That River" and "Them Bones" as well as a powerhouse closing triplet of "Man in the Box," "Would" and "Rooster," the latter accompanied by an explicit and unapologetic anti-war video. In their case, the past indeed makes for a potent present.



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