Gun are on the brink of a big breakthrough that others like The Quireboys and Texas have managed to achieve. And judging from the sold out Astoria, they could be the next in line of the new Brit rock bands to establish themselves in the mainstream.
Tonight they surprise me. Right from the start with You Got No Shame, they exude a convincing intensity. A blitzkrieg attack fronted by Baby Stafford's wild guitar spasms. If you've heard their debut platter, you'll already be aware of their undoubted energy and song writing ability, but the sheer hard rock attack they displayed wasn't something they projected so firmly the last time I saw them at the Marquee. Singer Mark Rankin appropriately enough refers to that gig during an impassioned rendition of Something To Believe In. The memorable chorus soars through the dense wall of sound.
Mark Rankin (dig the Persil Kid outfit) and his cohorts project a swaggering confidence and exuberant energy that could only be borne out of many months of solid touring and a complete conviction in what they're about. There's nothing original in covering such a Thin Lizzy classic as Don't Believe A Word, but if you can reproduce it as note perfect as this and still make it heavier than the original, then that confidence isn't unfounded.
Gun play a couple of new songs like Coming Home in praise of the European city of culture 1990...Glasgow of course!!! It's not immediate or catchy, but the nice use of harmonica and the spirit kept my attention.
Some of you might regard talk of that Celtic spirit as a load of mystical bullshit, but in my opinion, for what it's worth, it's the quality that gives Gun a little bit extra. Money (Everybody Loves Her), Better Days, and Inside Out typify that spirit. The singer yells "Let's get the roof aff" in gutteral Glaswegian, and the band's hard core following bop frantically.
The current single, Taking On The World gives us a rare glimpse of Gun in a more reflective, introspective mood.
At the start of the encores, Mr. Rankin massages our egos by telling us that the British audiences are "the best crowds in the world" and just in case we doubt his sincerity he reassures us that the band are being honest and not just saying it. They play out with Feeling Within and two diverse covers of Let's Go Crazy by Prince and the Pistols' Anarchy in The UK
Gun's new approach is welcome, but a word of caution: they have to achieve the right balance between hard rock dynamics and a sense of grandeur, otherwise they could fall into the trap of excess and bombast and lose sight of their identity. However, the band have got their heads screwed on better than most and with their range of influences from Aerosmith to U2, they look capable of avoiding these pitfalls.