As the nights start drawing in and evenings are getting dark earlier we head into a busy season for gig goers. The thirteenth, unlucky for some and what would otherwise, have been a quiet Sunday night in September, brought Gunzo to Club Academy in Manchester. Gunzo, not to be confused with Gonzo, takes Gun from guitarist Tracii Guns and Zo from bass player Rudy Sarzo and unites them to form Rock Supergroup Gunzo. They don’t play any of their own songs, as in Gunzo’s own material but they play songs from the bands that band members have played in. Tracii was a founder member of L.A. Guns and is now in Devil City Angels. Rudy has played with some of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s greatest names including Ozzy, Whitesnake, Dio and Quiet Riot and he’s now, also, in Devil City Angels. Heading up the rear on drums is Shane Fitzgibbon and, originally fronted by Keith St. John of Montrose and Quiet Riot, the current vocalist is Michael O’Mara of Talon.
Four bands were playing tonight and first up were Renegade & Retrospect, a grunge/groove rock three piece from Manchester. I didn’t manage to see all of their set but caught an impressive drum solo just before the last song, which had a pummelling beat and some powerful vocals. At this early stage there were around 40 people, most at the front of stage area, with a few more sat in the comfy seats at the back of the venue.
Gareth Hodges- Drums/ Backing Vocals
Jordan Leppitt – Guitar/ Lead Vocals
Daniel Godwin – Bass
Stone Trigger came next a hard rock band from Dublin. An intro heralded their imminent arrival, a TV theme tune. I think it was Knight Rider but could be wrong. Opening with their début single Rattle Your Bones. Singer Tommy Rockit and rhythm guitarist Ronnie Velvet with their glamorous names, leather jackets, tight pants and big hair, looked very much the sleaze rockers think Poison or Motley Crue, with the others more subdued in both names and attire, although I noticed they all had beautifully varnished black fingernails. Ronnie had an interesting metal plated black guitar. Tommy a great front man posing and pouting said ‘Hello Manchester! We’re from Dublin, Ireland’ and told us they got a phone call asking what they were doing in September and would they like to tour with Tracii Guns and Rudy Sarzo? Of course they said ‘Yeah!!’
The set included a cover of Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell, the letting off of a giant party popper and about four or five of their own songs. Gotta Get It On was like a glammed up version of Megadeth’s Peace Sells and during the song Tommy pointed to a guy in the audience, who just happened to be Chase the Ace singer Roi and worked the words ‘Chase the Ace’ into the lyrics of the song. Show Your Hands reminded me of Bon Jovi’s Run To You and part way through the song they mixed in a bit of Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak. Tommy introduced us to band members before a ‘Goodnight. God Bless. Enjoy the rest of show’ he said he’d see us at the merch stand, let off another large party popper and that was the end of an entertaining and great fun set.
Tommy Rockit- Lead Vocals / Frontman
Ronnie Velvet – Guitar / Keyboards / Piano / Backing Vocals
Niall McDermott – Drums / Percussion
Peter Jordan – Bass / Backing Vocals
Andrew Callaly – Lead Guitar / Backing Vocals
Then next up came Chase The Ace a four piece from Tel Aviv. Fronted by Roi Vito Peleg with a mane of long dark curly hair he said ‘Guys. We’re Chase The Ace and we’re here to have a party’ and party they did. The Cat is On The Loose reminded me of Love/Hate’s Blackout In The Red Room. Fortunate (don’t know if that’s the full title but that’s what was written on the set list) started with some great riffs and was like The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil, The Who’s Free Me and Let Me Entertain You by Robbie Williams all rolled into one. Roi asked ‘Are we having fun?’ and the reponse was yeah. He said they’ve done almost 200 shows in the last 2 years but this was their first time in Manchester. He also mentioned that being on the road is expensive so if we liked them could we buy an album or a t-shirt to keep them on the road as they weren’t getting paid for this gig!
Bad Seed started off a bit like Airbourne’s Runnin’ Wild a fast, catchy number. The band looked to be having fun and so did the audience. Roi came out into audience and got up on bar to play a few bars, before running back to the stage. He then said the next song was a drinking song so, if we had one, ‘Raise Your Glass‘ which was also the name of the song, after that came Hell Yeah a rocking one which saw Roi hoisting his guitar aloft for the ‘Hell yeahs’ and getting the audience to sing along too. Then came their last song California which had Roi and Dan kind of clashing guitars and Yam drumming so hard one of the drumsticks flew out of his hand but without missing a beat he just grabbed another. Overall they reminded me of the band Stop Stop even Roi’s accent and I asked if they were from Spain, which just shows that my ear for accents is not as finely tuned as my ear for rock, as they’re from Israel apart from Dan, who was from somewhere in England. He did say where but I didn’t write it down and I didn’t pick up any particular accent from the brief chat! Chase The Ace are going on a European tour with Hardcore Superstar and Michael Monroe next month, which includes several dates in the UK and with that line-up should be an impressive show!
Roi Vito Peleg – Vocals / Rhythm Guitar
Yam Artzy – Drums / Backing Vocals
Dan Parsons – Lead Guitar / Backing Vocals
Yair Gadon – Bass / Backing Vocals
With the audience now nicely warmed up but not greatly expanded as I reckon there were only around 50 people, 60 at the most with about 10 of those being at the front leaning on the barrier. Gunzo were due to start at 9.45pm but they were still setting up at 10pm with the curfew being 11 pm. The band came on stage around 10.10pm to shouts of Tracii, Tracii and Tracii who was looking pretty good for a guy nearing 50, replied ‘Yes sir’ and one guy shouted ‘Yes sir’ back. Gunzo opened with L.A. Guns’ Over The Edge and Tracii immediately playing some great riffs with fancy hand moves and great facial expressions. At one point holding his guitar up above his head. Michael said they were going to go through some of band members’ history and that Rudy had been in Ozzy I Don’t Know and I don’t mean that literally, it’s the name of the song they played next. Then back to Tracii for the popular Sex Action and for the line ‘Let her fingers do the walking’ Michael was doing a walking action with his fingers held up in the air. A bit of Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones was cleverly mixed in towards the end of the song.
Then like a game of tennis we batted back over to Rudy’s history again and not Ozzy (batted! get it?) but over to Whitesnake and Fool for Your Loving with Michael’s blond locks fitting better with the David Coverdale look than that of Phil Lewis. Then we stayed with Rudy and ‘Another great band he played in’ Quiet Riot for Slick Black Cadillac with it’s ‘Feels Alright’ refrain, which had Michael sounding a bit Vince Neil. No mention was made of the fact that Tracii was in Quiet Riot too, although only briefly clocking in less than a month and one rehearsal so, perhaps, best forgotten! Rudy was sliding his fingers along the bass strings, making a bit of a slide guitar sound without the aid of a slide. It’s probably fair to say that I don’t usually take much notice of the bass guitar. Whilst it has an important roll in the rhythm section, unless you’re thinking of a song like AC/DC’s Squealer, it tends to take a back seat to the 6 string, but Rudy made the 4 strings look exciting tonight. With his still thick head of hair and his customised jeans and shirt he looked much younger than his age (64).
It must have been hot up there because I noticed Shane pouring some cold water over his head, but he was swigging something a little stronger. A ballad came next, that of Jayne with Tracii strumming gently before the tempo was upped again for Electric Gypsy which had Michael and Tracii singing together, but Tracii didn’t have a mic so had to share Mic(hael)’s who then asked ‘Do you fancy a bit of Rock ‘n’ Roll?’ in different voices. ‘Have we got any 70’s fans?’ and we got some Montrose, the band former Gunzo vocalist Keith St John fronted, and the song Rock Candy which was written in 1973. With a drum start and strong bass line it had Shane really going for it and included a long instrumental section giving Michael a rest. A bit of Jimmy Hendrix’s Hey Joe was mixed in too and we saw Tracii holding his guitar upright and more fancy fret work before Michael came back. He told us that the last time Rudy played here, and I think he meant Manchester rather than Club Acdemy, he played with (the late) Ronnie James Dio and said ‘Let’s do something by Ronnie’ before they played Rainbow in the Dark with Michael punching the air on the work rainbow. One more L.A. Guns, one more Ozzy Never Enough and Crazy Train took us beyond curfew time.
Despite running over there was time for one last song which was L.A. Guns’ Rip and Tear a great fast rocking song to end the gig on a high note. ‘Thank you so much’ said Michael ‘We are Gunzo. I know it’s difficult to get off the couch and we really do appreciate it. Thank you so much’ Gunzo took a bow and finished around 15 minutes over curfew. But, hey, they’re a Rock Supergroup and allowed to be rebels! However I was still glad I’d driven and taken advantage of the free on street parking about 5 minutes walk away because, if not, I’d have missed my last bus! Michael’s comment about it being difficult to get off the couch doesn’t apply to me personally, I was there, but far too many potatoes didn’t bother to make that difficult move and stayed vegging out on the couch, when they could have been rocking, there are even some couches at the back of the room if you need to rest for a few minutes. These guys came over from L.A. and at most 60 people turned out, but at least those who made the effort had a great night! It’s just a shame more people couldn’t make the effort but it didn’t dim any enthusiasm from Gunzo. An entertaining show with a bit of a history of the band members in songs.
Over the Edge (L.A. Guns cover)
I Don’t Know (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
Sex Action (L.A. Guns cover)
Fool for Your Loving (Whitesnake cover)
Slick Black Cadillac (Quiet Riot cover)
The Ballad of Jayne (L.A. Guns cover)
Electric Gypsy (L.A. Guns cover)
Rock Candy (Montrose cover)
Rainbow in the Dark (Dio cover)
Never Enough (L.A. Guns cover)
Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
Rip and Tear (L.A. Guns cover)
Michael O’Mara – Vocals
Rudy Sarzo – Bass
Shane Fitzgibbon – Drums
Tracii Guns – Guitar