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Gun @ The Asylum, Birmingham (20/3/10)

posted 25 Jul 2011, 14:08 by Paul Woodward

There were some changes to tonight’s support acts which I was totally unaware of until I got to the venue. I was actually quite pleased to hear that the opening band was to be Toxic Federation. I’ve checked out some of the band’s songs and video’s recently and have been very keen to catch them live at some point and tonight I got my chance. The band is a very young Midlands based band, who are gigging everywhere, they are a glam / sleaze influenced band but perhaps with a heavier edge. If you like bands like Crashdiet & Crazy Lixx, the band should appeal to you.

I have to say I was really impressed with their performance and the quality of their musicianship! Whilst some of the onstage antics may have been a little OTT for some I found it hugely entertaining - a band full of energy and not worried about throwing themselves full force into their performance. Lead singer Mitchell Emms, is particularly wild, jumping all over the place and even running offstage into the crowd! A very enthusiastic frontman who may come across as a little unhinged with some of his antics, but was obviously enjoying every last minute of his time on stage.

I was impressed with the tightness of the rhythm section courtesy of JR Windsor (Drums) & Alex Stroud (Bass), which obviously gave the band that big heavy groove! The guitarists Jake Graham & George Coleman seem to have very different styles of playing, which brings a unique sound to the band which will make them stand out from their peers. They both shared lead guitar duties over the course of the set and showed what they could do with vigour! Jake was very prominent for playing a lot of Maiden-style fretwork. I’m not usually one for guitar hero widdling sessions but I love all those hugely melodic Maiden guitar riffs and solos. So I really took to the songs which Jake let rip on.

They have a great sound for live performances, they have a great rhythm and energy to grab your attention, whilst they do come across quite heavy the melodies do still soar on through! There were a couple of songs that were perhaps a little too bland or only had one moment of a stand out guitar work but to be honest I was impressed by the vast majority of the songs the band chose to perform. I have to say I really like “As One”, the band even had a heart attack inducing pyro explosion during the performance of this one! You can’t fault the band for their energy and enthusiasium and obvious love of performing live. I heavily recommend you go and check these guys out when they are in your neck of the woods, you won’t regret it and remember to take your dancing shoes!


The official support act who has accompanied Gun on all the dates of the Pop Killer tour is The Virgin Marys. After a great kick off to the evening I found these guys a real turn off, obviously this was purely down to personal taste as a big crowd turned out to cheer on the band and were notably vocal during their performance. The most obvious band I felt they were like was The White Stripes, who I dislike immensely, so their brand of indie rock left me yawning and clock watching - a real disappointment after the raucous rock n roll performance of Toxic Federation.

The band are obviously all extremely talented musicians, and I can understand why the band came across well to members of the audience, but their style just does nowt for me. Their drummer sure as shit didn’t wanna leave any prisoners as he was pounding his drum kit mercilessly, lots of floppy hair (yeah I know I’m only jealous, although this new spray on stuff is lasting longer) and foot stomping on the spot.
The turnout tonight for Gun was heartbreakingly low and I do find it hard to understand why the band didn’t pull more fans? I did actually expect the Asylum to be near enough full given the turnout in Wolverhampton last summer. I’m not sure if its because this tour comes not long after an extensive UK tour last November, but with them choosing to ignore the West Mid’s on that jaunt I wouldn’t have thought that would be a factor. Although the recent support slot with Lynyrd Skynyrd @ The LG Arena in Brum may have.

I have a great affection for the band as they were one of the first band’s I got into. They no longer have Mark Rankin on vocals and are no fronted by the multi-talented Toby Jepson, who is also a favourite of mine from my youth,  Little Angels. So it’s really disheartening from a fans point of view that such talented musicians and excellent songs, many of which were big chart hits during the late 80’s and early 90’s are been played to such a small but undoubtedly loyal and happy crowd of fans.

I really like The Asylum as a venue and it has an excellent PA system and it is great for parking as well because most of Brum is a fooking nightmare! Although I think given the sound and style of Gun they would have attracted a bigger crowd at JB’s in Dudley, I do think for the second part of the tour the band should seriously consider playing a black country venue and if JB’s doesn’t suit the band the new Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton would be a great choice for the band!

This is the third time I’ve seen GUN with Toby Jepson on vocals, whom I think is doing a great job as the new front man of the band, and I have really enjoyed the band’s previous performances. Tonight was a bit slow to start off with, I don’t know whether it was last gig of the tour syndrome or the disappointing turn out, but they did slowly warm up and I think the second half of their set was just as good as I’d seen the band previously. The crowd, as it was, did slowly drift towards the front, and during the course of the set those around the front were dancing, waving their hands and singing along just as if they were part of a much larger audience, which obviously fuelled the bands performance as it just got better and better!

They kicked of with “Welcome To The Real World” & “Money (Everybody Loves Her)” from their debut album Taking on the World. As fans started to get into it and drift forward, Toby mentioned the low turnout but the band didn’t care and they were planning on having some fun and hoped everyone would join in, dance and sing along as well. They then burst into “Stand in Line” from their biggest selling album Swagger, which got a great reaction and good to hear as I haven’t heard this one in their live set to date!

The band have recently released an all new EP; GUN don’t want to be a nostalgia act so obviously want to get some new music out there for people to enjoy and concrete Toby’s position in the band. They also want to become more relevant to the current musical climate and that is reflected in the style of the songs on the EP. I think its a good and bold move by the band and obviously needed to give them some longevity and grow their audience rather than consigning themselves to a niche fan base. These dates are ideal for the band to ease a few new songs in gently for the hardcore fans, as I do believe the new stuff will divide established fans. “Pop Killer” is probably my least favourite of all the songs from the EP its named after, but it went down immensely well with the fans at the front who sang along and danced like it was one the band’s classics. I didn’t really do anything for me, but it did come across far better live.

It was at this point that the band really got into the groove and the set just went from strength to strength after they played “Money to Burn” and the always popular and a personal live favourite of mine “Taking on the World”. They then slipped in another newbie “Let Your Hair Down” which went down extremely well, the song has a great energy and is always going to go down well live, I’m sure the song will become a staple in the band’s set list. Then it was back to the debut album for “Better Days” before they kicked to another newbie and probably my highlight of the set the infectiously catchy “Seraphina”!

After this Toby took the opportunity to thank everyone for coming out and that everyone in the band was really appreciative of it, especially during the current economic climate. He then promises everyone the band will keep coming out and playing shows and hopes we all keep coming out too and supporting the band! They then kick into one of the bands biggest hits “Don’t Say it’s Over” a song I could listen to on loop, as it will never get old!

A song I never expected to hear live is “Something Worthwhile” from Swagger which has lead vocals by bass player Dante Gizzi, but tonight that’s what we got! Obviously not normally centre stage, Dante did take this opportunity to have a bit of a laugh with the crowd before kicking into the song. I would have originally given the award for most insane person in the building to Mitchell Emms of Toxic Federation, but after seeing Dante’s ermm….I suppose you’d have to call it dancing… the award goes to him! The performance was great and Dante did his best as a front man and was thoroughly entertaining even with some of his bizarre dance moves!

Before kicking into “Inside Out”, Toby encouraged everyone to remember when they were 17, when they used to be the first down the front and the first to dance and sing along. This and along with the following song “Steal Your Fire”, the crowd really got into it and surprisingly made more noise than you would have thought possible when Toby got them to interact during the songs! Giuliano Gizzi even went A.W.O.L - guitar in hand during “Inside Out” - to join the fans at the front of the stage whilst the entire time still playing the song uninterrupted. it’s a great moment especially for those hardcore fans down the front obviously having a wail of a time!

We got introduced to the new drummer, Paul McManus, who considering he joined the band with only three rehearsals prior to the band’s support slots with Lynyrd Skynyrd, was tight as hell and you would have thought had been playing with the band for years! Toby did have a bit of laugh then explaining some of the trouble the band have had with drummers over the years - I think every Gun album including the EP has a different drummer! For the encore we got “Shame on You” & “Word Up” which ended the night on a big bang, with audience and band alike having a great time.

After a patchy start, it turned out to be a great set with a few surprises - a good performance from the band and again Toby doing all those classics justice! I really hope for the second part of the Pop Killer tour a few more people turn out, because they are a great live band and I highly recommend going to see them play!