01 September 2019

Duff McKagan feat. Shooter Jennings – Islington Assembly Hall, London – 29.08.19

It won’t take a genius for anyone who listened to Duff McKagans new LP entitled Tenderness who attended the gig to realise the show was not going to be an out and out G’n’R rockfest. The album’s name alone may have been an indication. It was clear that some of the punters were not prepared for what was evolving before them when Duff and his band played the whole long player in full. The fact that Shooter Jennings was named as ‘featuring’ would have enforced this point. Jennings is a big name in the US Country rock scene, much less so here , which for this reviewer it is a strange fact as his debut outing , the sensational 2005 Putting the O back in Country should be in every rock fans collection. However , what I was not expecting was SD and his band to be the support act and the main event was the same people plus Duff McKagan. Jennings is an odd fish , his albums are a mix of rock and country , and tonight the country came forward and dominated the set. The 1st 3 tracks SD played at the keyboard, then he picked up the electric guitar and continued on in the same vain. It wasn’t unpleasant , it was well executed , the lady fiddle player was excellent, but it was a little middle of the road. He finished the set off with a cover of Bowie’s , rock’n’roll suicide which got the biggest cheer. An opportunity missed by SD to show how good he is when he rocks. It was a clue of what was to follow.

[Shooter Jennings – Photo – Skid]

The audience was a mixed bunch , the main throng being here to see the ‘Rose’s man , and hoped that something special was going to happen in Islington. Something special did take place , but not in the way the above hoped. DK played the aforementioned Tenderness album in full with a few lesser known GnR tracks and a cover or two. Don’t get me wrong , the album is a superb slice of Americana and all credit to Duff for  making such a diverse and different record and then to tour it. That said , his name alone is a ticket seller , but even the hardest of diehards occasionally needs reassurance.

Duff McKagan for 55 looks comfortable in his well worn skin , 30 plus years of music would have seriously aged anyone ,but he wears these battle scars well . The ability to have a successful career outside his dayjob/mothership that is the global superstars of rock , Guns’n’Roses has allowed freedom of expression and DM has just done that. For a musician used to playing in front a sea of screaming humanity in stadia across the globe to perform out front and centre to less than 800 must be exciting as it is terrifying. This ying to yang is echoed with his musical song writing which tonight he expressed on many levels .The bass has been replaced by a 6 string acoustic, the talking was to a minimum , he mentioned that his 20th wedding anniversary was the day prior and Mrs M was somewhere in the crowd.

[Duff McKagan – Photo – Skid]

The songs have meaning to the man , several clearly protesting about US gun issues and mass shootings that thwart his homeland, and he appeared to enjoy playing them. The homage to Elton John and the Rolling Stones is evident in his song writing, but his stage craft is less flamboyant to the point of being dull.

This may not have been to the liking of the G’n’R diehards , but it was a set filled from the new album and that is a body of work that is in places beautiful. The problem is, if there is actually a problem , DM is a victim of his rock star status and has become a stereotyped hero , but his inner cowboy has come out , and to some this is maybe a heeyaa too far .

As said , there was an opportunity for all to rock it up a little , but that (state) line wasn’t crossed. This was a very good gig, successful in every way and I am sure slaps on the back and beers will be had , but will the pull of Slash/Axle et al be too great , and if it is then will DK be  able to continue to nurture his new found country self?

A joyous (if lacking in a bounce factor) surprise .

Review – Skid .


[All photos copyrighted by Skid]

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