GUN, BAZ M @ ROBIN 2, BILSTON 23/04/23


OK, so the t-shirt they’re selling does says “Acoustic-ish” but Gun are playing “Money (Everybody Loves Her)” here and you can’t help but notice guitar player Davie Irvine (now back with the band having appeared on their debut) has his feet on the monitor racing through what you can only describe as a guitar solo. Yep. This is an acoustic gig like no other.

To be fair, that should have been obvious from the start. Baz M’s opening act was impressive but he only used his acoustic guitar sparingly. Once for the beautiful “She Calls” (about the loss of his daughter) and on another occasion when he’d done “Little Boy Blue” where he’d talked about looking within and asking questions. Here, though, he’d been strumming along to a backing tape. Those points might indicate a couple of things about the Scot. First that his songs are personal – and deeply so – but also that the backing tapes (“my band” he jokes while tapping the laptop) are integral to the set. Loud, brash and electronic sounds mixed with the catharsis of the words, makes for an interesting contrast as the likes of “Evil Twin”, “Split” – “there are people that want to judge you…, fair play” he snarls before playing it – and “Caught In The Lights” prove. This is a journey you go on with Baz and it’s one that engages. It also offers a happy ending too, as the rocking “Animal” ends with a silver lining. M’s record is out later this year. It’ll be worth investigating.

So, back to Gun and this acoustic show that isn’t like an acoustic show at all. The story begins in 1989. I’d been through my Bon Jovi phase, and on the Friday Rock Show with Tommy Vance, he’s playing a load of UK bands. Groups not that much older than me, who weren’t untouchable rock stars. All of whom (Thunder, Little Angels, The Almighty) I still love to this day, but only one is standing before me here.

And Gun have, lest we forget this, some brilliant songs. Copper-bottomed classics. They’re on stage for 75 minutes or so here and they reel them off one after the other

That includes “Backstreet Brothers” the “new” song in the set, the one that opened last year’s “The Calton Tapes”, the sort of semi-acoustic record that sparked this tour, but which is also the best song they’ve done in years.

It’s an interesting show too. “Don’t Say It’s Over” is a glorious singalong (and I still maintain that if the aforementioned Bon Jovi had done it, it would have gone gold in about 47 countries), but it’s not all the hits. For example, a track from their 2015 comeback record, “Never Knew What I Had” wouldn’t have been picked as a highlight pre-show but absolutely was, and “Long Road” is a favourite of drummer Joe Lazarus (of Voodoo Six, who’s playing here), after his uncle played it a lot (the uncle is Steve Harris. You may know him?). In between them, though, is a glorious version of “Taking On The World” and after it is “Word Up”, and as dumb as it is, my goodness, it works.

The four of Gun and Baz M are the only crew on the tour and they’re definitely having fun, you can tell that as they play the last four. Take your pick out of which you like best out of “Better Days”, “Steal Your Fire”, “Inside Out” or “Shame On You” but I’ll tell you this: not many rock bands could better them.

And not many rock bands play an acoustic set this loud, this aggressively or with such a lack of naval gazing introspection. If you want to hear the stories behind the songs, look elsewhere (although we do hear that Jools Gizzi threw mic stands at Pantera fans on tour once and got on the front pages in Spain) but, on the other hand, if you want to see a brilliant hard rock band play their songs sort of acoustically, then gigs won’t get a lot better.

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