Dig That Reseda Hairline

Photo by Wild Don Lewis

Adler’s Appetite

at Paladino’s, January 13

Adler’s Appetite

at Paladino’s, January 13

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Getting kicked out of Guns N’ Roses for doing too many drugs — that’s like getting kicked out of Hickory Farms for liking cheese — man, you gotta be one screwed-up junkie dirtbag. Yet original Guns drummer Steven Adler appeared fairly spry, limber and smiley as his GN’R cover band, Adler’s Appetite, took the stage in front of a slouchy Paladino’s crowd. For a guy who’s had more bad strokes than my cousin’s had bad Strokes haircuts, Adler was looking good — sporting sleeveless flannel and heartbreakingly genuine Valley scum-rocker hair (more Reseda than receding). After years of rumors about Adler’s countless fuck-ups and health troubles, I half expected to see a drooling mess propped up onstage Weekend at Bernie’s–style, except it’d be even less funny than the movie, which is not funny at all.

But it was pretty funny, in a good way, and it was pretty good, too. Adler’s Appetite were likably anonymous, their set a loose but faithful rip-up of one of rock’s truly great records, Appetite for Destruction. (The few non-album songs included “Civil War,” “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” and “Mama Kin.”) Virtually free of hubris, production values and apparently drumsticks (which caused a five-minute pre-show delay as someone was sent to borrow a pair — Adler didn’t bring sticks! Outstanding!), the result was neither cynical nor sad. Quite rock, actually, live and thick. And stroke victim Adler played well, his steady, lazy sledgehammer snare pounding the songs into submission and making them behave, as if they were talented but troubled children who needed guidance. This is simply the right kind of drumming for GN’R (clearly an important influence on sludgehammer Dave Grohl), and one reflects again on the tragedy of replacing it with Matt Sorum’s technical biddle-dee-bip-bop. (A lack of cowbell, however, was noted.)

There’s something liberatingly honest about an ex-Gunner getting up there and just blasting through it all with a smile on his face. It’s realer, truer and somehow classier than what his former bandmates are doing now, what with Slash and Duff sanctioning the utter falsity of Velvet Revolver, and Axl discovering whatever new, boring way he’s not putting out his crappy music. Yeah, that washed-up loser and his cover band .?.?. they’re all right.

—Chuck Clayton

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