EmptyHammerstein Ballroom, New York
Monday, Dec. 31
As New York staged the biggest party in the world on New Year's Eve, at the Hammerstein Ballroom, Velvet Revolver owned the night.
Before a sold-out crowd of screaming girls in glittering mini-skirts and aspiring long-haired guitar heroes, Slash, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum, Dave Kushner and the mercurial Scott Weiland jammed for two hours, turning 2007 into 2008 and a dilapidated vaudeville theater into a rock 'n' roll circus.
The band took the stage at 11 p.m., working the already fevered and alcohol-fueled room into a sweat. Supporting its latest release, "Libertad" (RCA), Velvet Revolver opened with "Let It Roll" and rolled from there.
The ubiquitous Slash, in top hat and with hair flowing, drew the most cheers as he wailed on his signature Les Paul, doubtless intimidating video gamers and inspiring air guitarists throughout the room. Weiland, in sunglasses and typically dripping with rock-star attitude, was in excellent voice, leading the band into the thunderous, off-the-rails "Sucker Train Blues."
The band bounced around the stage, blasting through songs from its 2004 debut, "Contraband," and mixing in such new tunes as "She Builds Quick Machines" with "Superhuman" and "Do It for the Kids." McKagan and Kushner, on respective bass and guitar, hopped around the stage like caffeinated jackrabbits. The energy was enthralling, and mosh pits broke out several times to the detriment of the beleaguered security guards.
The legacies of the band members was not overlooked. Stone Temple Pilots frontman Weiland rendered "Interstate Love Song" with style and gritty power. And for the three former members of Guns N' Roses (Slash, McKagan and Sorum), any speculation of a possible reunion of that band was deafened with a stripped-down rendering of "Patience," with which Weiland crooned as soulfully as Axl Rose.
The band would revisit more GNR later -- but not until after the countdown to 2008. As balloons dropped and confetti filled the room and cluttered the stage, Slash rang in "Auld Lang Syne" on his guitar.
The band called in "Fall to Pieces," a beautiful ballad with soaring guitar that pierced the night as Slash took center stage, effortlessly sustaining the notes to cheers. Old acquaintances were not forgotten as the band launched into the rocking "It's So Easy," leading the crowd into a sweaty dance as Weiland went shirtless and whirled around, clearly enjoying himself. The band exited briefly and returned for the obligatory encores that included "Set Me Free," "Mr. Brownstone," "Sex Type Thing" and the blistering "Slither."
Velvet Revolver is on deck with a spring headlining tour across the U.S. The band is not to be missed -- because Velvet Revolver knows how to throw a rock 'n' roll party.