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Velvet Revolver - John O'Brien Tribute - House of Blues - 1/12/12

Velvet Revolver - John O'Brien Tribute - House of Blues - 1/12/12
Daniel Kohn

Velvet Revolver, Maroon 5, Sheryl Crow, Stephen Stills, The Nightwatchman

House of Blues Los Angeles

1/12/11

Better Than...Scott Weiland's Christmas album.

Last night, Scott Weiland, Slash, Duff McKagan and company put their differences aside to play a one-off set to honor the memory of composer and music supervisor John O'Brien, who died in August in Chicago.

O'Brien left behind a pregnant wife and a 4-year-old son. His longtime friend (and Velvet Revolver rhythm guitarist) Dave Kushner organized the concert as a fundraiser to help the family. The all-star lineup also featured short sets from artists including Maroon 5, Sheryl Crow, Tom Morello, Fishbone and Stephen Stills.

Though the sets were short, about 15 minutes for everyone, the event was satisfying. Each band shared a memory or two about O'Brien; Fishbone spoke about how they recorded one of their earliest demos on the producer's 4-track, while Morello and Kushner thanked fans for coming to support the memory of their fallen friend.

Musically, there were plenty of highlights. Morello and his Freedom Fighter Orchestra's version of "The Ghost of Tom Joad" was the perfect blend of the folkiness of the Springsteen original and the heavy Rage Against The Machine version. The crowd bobbed their heads and fist pumped. Other highlights included Stephen Stills' bluesy "For What It's Worth" and Sheryl Crow's "Every Day Is A Winding Road."

After Maroon 5's two song set, people were ready for the headliners to take the stage. Having parted ways on such acrimonious terms in the middle of their 2008 UK tour, it was somewhat surprising that Kushner was able to reunite his bickering former bandmates. Then again, time apart seemed to have cured whatever previous problems existed between Weiland and everyone else. Considering it was their first time on-stage together in nearly four years, they were good, but it wasn't the transcendent club performance that could have enhanced the band's legacy.

But to the chagrin of fans who expected a longer set, the band only played four tunes. Songs like "Slither" and "Sucker Train Blues" sounded fine, but felt a bit rushed. The evening's emotional finale of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" was the highlight of the set; a somber reminder of the night's message.

As a one-off show, the quintet's performance was adequate and served its purpose, but if fans are clamoring for a full-fledged reunion, it's likely not happening. The group seemed content to play a few songs in O'Brien's memory and then return to their respective individual projects. Judging by the band's body language and on-stage demeanor, there's a better chance Guns N' Roses re-uniting than Velvet Revolver playing another show.

Critical Bias: Velvet Revolver should have stepped up and played more songs.

The Crowd: A mix of family, friends and A-listers.

Random Notebook Dump: I was shocked that the night ended before midnight. What a let down.

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House of Blues Sunset Strip

8430 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069

323-848-5100

www.houseofblues.com


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