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The Underworld, Camden, London, England

May 18th, 2014

Chad Cherry (The Last Vegas)
Pic: Andrada Mihailescu

It was Lake District groove metallers Heartbreak Remedy who took to the stage at The Underworld in support of The Last Vegas. Despite a small audience, the quartet impressed with a set of hard rockin’ tunes bolstered by the earthy vocals of Matty Penn, who also provided the strong bass-lines.

Standout tracks were ‘Hair Of The Dog’, ‘Tell Me Why’ and the excellent ballad ‘Life’, but every track on offer – especially ‘Josephine’ – was delivered with an uptempo beat and at times married a Led Zeppelin strut with grungier influences.

Heartbreak Remedy also consist of drummer Stephen Jackson, and the twin guitar attack of Callum Glynn and Luke Blair, who give an extra metallic edge to the likes of ‘All You’ll Ever Be’ and the fluid strains of ‘Truth’. In a sense, Heartbreak Remedy brought the perfect blend of no frills rock ’n’ roll and groove-based, foot-tapping metal before making way for the headline act.

Chicago’s The Last Vegas should be massive. Their brand of glam-fueled, sleaze-edged rock ’n’ roll is part-Mötley Crüe, part-Cinderella, a hint of AC/DC, a sprig of The Cult and a dash of Janes Addiction, especially on opening strutter ‘Come With Me’.

Frontman Chad Cherry is a diminutive figure off-stage but on it a gargantuan vocalist – adorned in grey woolly hat, and black fitted jacket adorned with his own custom-made “Wolfman” back patch, he struts, flexes, twists and pirouettes like the bastard offspring of Mick Jagger and Joan Jett! His mercurial tones drift over the sweaty crowd as leather-clad guitarist Adam Arling provides another soaring lead of destruction amidst the waves of Nathan Arling’s sturdy percussion. It’s only rock ’n’ roll and we love it as the band belts out top tune after top tune in support of their new rollicking opus Sweet Salvation.

‘Invincible Summer’, a track from 2014 opus Sweet Salvation, is delivered with the usual glam rock swagger, showcasing Cherry’s distinctive rasp. The new tracks showcased stand up well alongside the band’s catalogue of what are becoming classics in every sense of the word, and thankfully The Last Vegas batter us with the songs that should soon have them playing in front of thousands.

‘I’m Bad’ is a punch to the face as Cherry’s black gloved hands clasp the mic with sweat-ridden conviction. Bassist Danny Smash, with black hat perched upon his head, judders the bones throughout ‘Other Side’, while the Led Zeppelin-ish-pomp of ‘Evil Eyes’ sees the energetic frontman pulling shapes through the legs of Adam Arling and in the shadows of Smash.

Chad Cherry and Danny Smash (The Last Vegas)
Pic: Andrada Mihailescu

But as each track rolls by and the small yet excited crowd gets louder and louder, it’s clear that we are seeing something special tonight. As the twang of ‘It Ain’t Easy’ saunters in under kaleidoscopic lights and then makes way for the Rolling Stones-like bustle of ‘Loose Lips’, I’m reminded as to why all the coolest bands never seem to hit the big time and yet pray that The Last Vegas finally get the recognition they deserve.

Hair metal ballad ‘Apologize’ reinforces my belief that these guys are, at the time of writing, the best band you’ve never heard and as newie ‘You & Me (Ya Never Know)’ soars into the dripping rafters I’m just spellbound by the stage presence and quality of this combo.

And just when you think things cannot get any better, their anthem ‘Whatever Gets You Off’ rolls into the venue like a runaway train; jangling with its Cult-esque riff, Cherry bellows “Ya gotta go with what ya know”, and I’m suddenly caught up in the same metal mania that came with those early Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses records. It’s a big noise, fueled by Adam Arling’s licks and his brother’s belligerent percussion, and with an encore that boasts the superb ‘Miss You’ it’s no wonder that these guys attracted the attention of Nikki Sixx (Mötley Crüe) and DJ Ashba (Guns N’ Roses) several years ago.

Whether to 50 or 50,000 people, The Last Vegas deliver no matter what the cost and tonight’s gig was something I felt privileged to have been part off.

Neil Arnold