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Live Reviews : Steven Adler Experience @ The Backroom, Brisbane 19/05/2018

By on May 21, 2018

On a cold for Queensland Saturday night, Steven Adler, the man behind the drum kit during Guns N’ Roses most incendiary (musically speaking) years performed at a venue in the Brisbane suburb of Annerley. The appearance included a ‘Q&A’ session featuring Steven and his mother (Deanna), followed by hits and cuts culled from his time in the iconic band. There were even a few choice selections from the Use Your Illusion (’91) album series, selections that Steven must have had an influence over when they were first brought to a rehearsal room.

First things first…the venue.

The Backroom venue is a large room within the Chardons Corner complex, it’s a gritty pub that still retains the essence of its years of hosting the State of Origin, NRL and Bledisloe Cup telecasts to punters who are equally at home watching a heavy metal or punk band. In short, it’s my kind of pub. However, The Backroom isn’t a venue that lends itself to a decent sound.

The mix veered between the diabolical ‘Red’ stage at Download this year, and a sound resembling a closet full of my mother-in-law’s huge blanket collection cloaking the speakers. As I was standing next to the mixing console for most of the night, Señor sound-man was certainly adept at managing the mix, but there is only so much one can do given the dynamics of the room and quality of in-house speakers.

Another feature of The Backroom is that one can view the band from the side of the stage, many took that as a rolled gold chance to watch one of the best rock drummers and percussionists in the biz up close as he lay down some seriously tasty grooves. The on-stage mix was audible from this vantage point, offering a vast improvement over the FOH PA sound as well.

The Q&A was hosted by an MC and gave Steven and Deanna an opportunity to air their thoughts on his very well documented battle with drugs and booze. As a parent myself I truly felt for Deanna when she mentioned (or words to the effect), that while its nothing unusual to witness a son or daughter tussle with a substance addiction, it’s an entirely different scenario when 30 million people know who your son is. Elsewhere, Steven had to actually pause the session and ask a young lady in the crowd to settle down as she kept interrupting him and his mother… manners much?

After Deanna and Steven had thanked the audience and left the stage, the crew got the backline sorted and did so to a soundtrack of rock classics that seem to please the crowd. The biggest singalong was for Aerosmith’s droll hit, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (Armageddon: The Album– ’98).

For what most had come to witness, it was time for the man himself to grace the stage. Supported by world-class rock musicians, Steven leant back on his drum stool and performed hit after hit from the Appetite-era catalogue. Opening with “It’s So Easy” (Appetite for Destruction– ’87), the band’s first real pause was four cuts into the set to introduce Steel Panther’s Michael Starr and Satchel for a memorable version of “Sweet Child O’Mine”.

Standing near the mixing console as I was, I did notice who I thought was a front-runner in the Bret Michaels look-a-like stakes milling about the desk. Turns out it was the venerable Steel Panther frontman!

Steven’s drum solo was performed between “Civil War” and “You Could Be Mine”, it was what you would hope: A groovy swing-infused ‘Charlie Watts’ lesson in the esteemed art of truly musical percussion.

Tonight’s performance by the Steven Adler band was excellent. But none of the musicians on the stage carries the same charisma that Steven radiates. His actual drum and percussion performance was one of those experiences you really need to witness and hear to truly appreciate.

One can use all the epithets in the dictionary but it’s better to simply state what needs to be said.

Steven was born to be a performing member in Guns N’ Roses. None of the members of the classic formation of the Guns N’ Roses outfit will ever reach their peak again until they reunite onstage, together. I had a fabulous chat to Steven prior to coming to Australia for these shows, it wasn’t anything specifically that Steven said, but it must be really hurting him that Axl, Duff and his dear friend Slash won’t reach out to him and offer him the gig.

If there is a direct-to-desk recording of The Backroom performance, I do hope Axl is given a copy. After listening to it, he might even be inspired to tap the very capable Frank Ferrer on the shoulder and ask him if he’d step aside and give the gig back to Steven after almost 30 years.


Catch Steven Adler on his remaining Australian tour dates.

Friday 25th May – 170 Russell, MELBOURNE
Saturday 26th May – Max Watts, SYDNEY

Tickets on sale now! Click here for more details.

About

Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith