GUN: Taking on the world
Live at the Cambridge Junction: Thursday 19 November 2009
By Gavin Bates
It has been over a decade since Brit-rockers Gun vanished into obscurity and it is always difficult to tell how music fans will respond to the return of a band after such a long absence. Around for ten years, racking up four albums, including 1994s Swagger with the Cameo cover single Word Up hitting the UK charts at number 4 and winning an MTV award, they were riding high until the release of 0141 632 6326 and the addition of punctuation in their name. The poppier lighter sound of the album, recorded by INXSs Andrew Farris, confused existing fans as much as the name change and did nothing to gain them the new fans they so desperately craved. From the great heights they seemingly plummeted and vanished until now.
Now is the era of the reunion, where the voids that are created by the empty hedonistic throwaway modern music scene are seemingly being filled by more established groups from yesteryear desperate to reclaim past glories.
Gun returned in 2008 with new singer Toby Jepson replacing Mark Rankin on lead vocals, given the blessing of the former front man. With the two Gizzi brothers remaining the glue that holds them together, their name restored to its former simplicity, a new mini album seeing them return to their rock roots, they are now embarking on a large UK tour which will test their bounce-back-ability.
Tonight at The Junction few have turned out to support the band and the venue seems somewhat sad, desolate and full of empty holes. The atmosphere is not helped at all by a support band which are too obvious and indicative of the paint by numbers music that seems to have engulfed the past decade.
There is no sudden influx when they leave the stage and the crowd remains minimal, with the out of place sound of the Beach Boys hauntingly drifting across the barren room. When the four men of Gun do take to the stage, however, the low turnout appears to have done nothing to dent their spirits. Beaming from ear to ear it is quite clear that they are just happy to be performing again and are going to enjoy tonight no matter what. Guilano raises his drink to the crowd that have shuffled to the front to show his genuine appreciation for those who have not forgotten them.
Welcome to the Real World and Dont Say Its Over open the gig and the big bedroom adolescent anthems instantly increase the energy levels in the room. Gun have supported the likes of the Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi and Def Leppard and the audience tonight is given an instant reminder of why.
Seems Like Im Losing You gets the thumbs up from Guilano as well as the crowd and displays the depth of songs at Guns disposal. The new singer does nothing to dull their edge and in fact sounds uncannily like his predecessor. Intent on being every bit the front man he introduces new track Popkiller with a call to arms to the small crowd to enjoy tonight; It might be a Thursday but thats not an excuse. The song itself shows that Gun still have the ability to write cracking tunes but the title may need to be prophetic if they are to break through the current malaise.
The crowd are really starting to warm up by the time they play Money (Everybody Loves Her), making more noise than most capacity crowds would. When Toby asks; Who cares about work tomorrow? the overwhelming response from the mostly middle aged crowd suggests that none of them do and that tonight they are here for a complete abandonment of their mundane lives.
The epic balladry of Taking On The World includes a solo reminiscent of yester year, full of hedonistic delight. Watching both Gizzi brothers play their instruments, you can tell that they really believe in their songs and there is no fake posturing. Alongside this their professionalism and experience make for an extremely polished show, so much so that you forget the empty spaces around you which have now seemingly been filled by a musical mist.
Let Your Hair Down, the first song from new mini album Popkiller, continues the theme of the night and proves that they can still write a killer chorus. Old favourite Better Days gets the crowd singing and clapping and you can see that Guilano is revelling in people enjoying his songs. Whilst forgotten anthem Crazy You still sounds massive and sends a tingle down the collective spines of the audience.
If Gun have any chance of surviving for a second time then new song number three - Seraphina is the clearest indication that they may have a chance. They are clearly happy with it and they have every right to be. Bursting with stadium epic-ness, it is the kind of song that you instantly know the chorus to even after only one hearing.
The pleasure of watching drunk Scottish bassist Dante take to the microphone to rap his way through Something Worthwhile as if he were in the Beastie Boys is visible throughout the audience and Dante too. This enjoyment continues into the medley of Inside Out / The Joker / So Lonely with the drummer pushing so hard he breaks his sticks. Steal You Fire sees the fans giving every drop of sweat that the band have bled tonight back to them in spades and by the time they close with Shame On You even the security guards are applauding the band off the stage.
When the battle weary warriors return they pose the question of why bands go off stage at all and just as quickly answer their own question by claiming that its the theatre of it which, closing with the hit single they will forever be known for Word Up, it inevitably is. Whilst it must feel like they are starting all over again they have certainly earned their money tonight.
Emerging into the cold autumn air with smiles on faces, the crowd return to their real lives after a couple of hours of pure escapism. As they do so they are confronted with a larger middle aged crowd emerging from the art venue now crudely crafted onto the side of The Junction. When Gun were at their peak the venue was dark, irresistible and wholly about the music - now it feels more like a hollow shell engulfed by the leisure park that has been built around it. Mediocrity for the masses. The only time life returns to it is on nights like these.