Love it or loathe it, hair metal/glam metal/cock rock (call it what you want) is a big part of the musical history in this town and, thankfully, there are plenty of bands, promoters and fans who refuse to let it die. While the Rainbow hosts Backyard Bashes, while Taime Downe has breath in his smoke-filled lungs, this music will live on in L.A. Here are 10 of 2017’s best hair metal shows…
10. Punky Meadows at the Whisky
The former Angel guitarist has assembled a band that's eminently capable of doing justice to the classic tracks from the 1970s Angel albums. There might be a few more lines on Meadows’ face nowadays, but his demeanor is still youthful and, at the Whisky back in March, he lit up the place.
9. Y&T at the Rose
The Rose in Pasadena can be an odd place to watch a show. There are tables right up front by the stage, so people can get a cherry view while eating wings and burgers. That dinner-theater vibe is just a bit weird, especially when a high-energy rock & roll band like Y&T is shredding up there. Incidentally, local ’80s band Angeles also plated this show, as did Wikkid Starr, featuring one Alex Kane, recently of Little Caesar, Shark Island, CJ Ramone’s band and many, many more. Great lineup.
8. Warrant at the Rose
Back at the Rose in May, Warrant proved that, even with ex–Lynch Mob singer Robert Mason up front in place of the sadly departed Jani Lane, the band are capable of great things. New songs from 2017’s Louder Faster Harder album sat more-than-comfortably alongside classics from the glory days, such as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “Sometimes She Cries” and, of course, “Cherry Pie.” Dino Cazares, guitarist with Fear Factory, was spotted having a great time, incidentally.
7. Bullet Boys/Pretty Boy Floyd at the Whisky
A killer double bill at the Whisky, the day before the first Rainbow Parking Lot Party of the year. Neither band disappointed, despite their very different takes on the genre. PBF is all about decadence and wonderfully sloppy debauchery, while Bullet Boys are a right-as-nuts rock & roll band with a party vibe. Together, it made for one hell of a night.
6. Faster Pussycat at the Whisky
In this town, it’s really not a party until Taime Downe says so. And when Pussycat play, it’s time to get wild. Even with this much-changed lineup, Faster Pussycat don’t disappoint. After a few years of phoning it in during the early 2000s, Downe looks like he’s having a great time with this stuff again.
5. The Throbs at the Whisky
One of the most unexpected announcements last year was a show from The Throbs, but there they were, performing songs from the Language of Thieves and Vagabonds album up on the Whisky stage. Frontman Ronnie Sweetheart later told us that he’d had a great time, and it showed. Meanwhile, former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke joined the band for a handful of Ramones tunes. Wonderful night.
4. Backyard Bash 2 at the Rainbow
The second Backyard Bash of the year at the Rainbow featured Dokken, Bang Tango, Enuff Znuff and, weirdly, Bow Wow Wow. Typically, it was a wonderful day and early evening, filled with amazing music, food, drink and people-watching.
3. Backyard Bash 1 at the Rainbow
Back in April, the Rainbow’s first Backyard Bash saw the welcome return of Quiet Riot, with new singer James Durbin, a contestant on American Idol. Durbin made the position his own while making a lot of friends and fans at the Rainbow. Other performers that day included Black ‘N’ Blue and Jetboy. Spectacular fun.
2. Saigon Kick at the Viper Room
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It was back in April that Florida’s Saigon Kick returned, took to the Viper Room stage and blew the place apart. The band have transcended the hair/glam metal tags and now are simply a stellar hard-rock outfit. That said, songs from excellent 1992 album The Lizard, such as “God of 42nd Street” and “Love Is on the Way” still sound incredible. We hope they stick around for a while — the world is a better place with Saigon Kick in it.
1. Guns N' Roses at the Forum (also Staples Center)
There’s nothing more that needs to be said about the Guns N’ Roses Not in This Lifetime tour. The band are back, firing on all cylinders and sounding majestic night after night. With the addition of Slash and Duff McKagan, the Chinese Democracy songs sound like they belong in the set alongside the old favorites. This reunion was one of the ongoing stories of 2017, and for good reason.