Brides Of Destruction & Viking Skull – The Electric Ballroom, London, UK 9/6/04

Rammed to the rafters with stetsons, stilettos and big, big hair in the sweltering heat of a rare bit of British sun the Brides Of Destruction have turned the Ballroom into the Whiskey for one night only. Warming up for a crowd of 80s throwbacks about to see Nikki Sixx play possibly the smallest venue he’s seen in years is not an enviable task but ex-Raging Speedhorns Viking Skull rise to it admirably, and riding on the back of the excitable, kinetic anticipation and means people will dance to pretty much anything right now they just pull it off. Not that this is just anything, clad in leather and denim-embellished, with yes, patches the gumby rockers confidently blast out some real classics as they blend Hellacopter’s punk’n’roll with a Sabbath-ish power and high brow lyrical content concerning drugs, booze, cars and chicks.

But of course the night must belong to the Brides. Chants start up even half an hour before they’re due on stage, until finally they swagger onstage to an elaborate intro tape. Scott Coogan first, Tracii Guns looking wiry as ever, Sixx grinning to a roomful of cheers and LeGrand, a vocalist in the unusual position of being overshadowed by the string pluckers to either side of him, apparently compensating for reputation by way of a foot-high mohawk to had to his already overly tall figure and this motley lot launch into a speed-punk rendition of first single ‘Shut The Fuck Up’. Tracii and Nikki are by no means old guys reliving past glories but dervishes tearing across the stage, the Brides are a mean, toned and angry beast. Full of more fury, energy and middle-class rebellion that any of toady’s youthful upstarts, whilst simultaneously showcasing a truly classic song writing sensibility and tightness ill-gotten only by years of life on the road. If the path of excess leads to wisdom this should be the wisest band in the world. As twice dead by heroin Sixx teasingly swings his bass into the crowd and retrieves it just in time there’s a feeling of fun rather than hell-bent self-destruction to his childish equipment trashing and encouragement for people to overthrow the ‘asshole’ security and climb onstage with him. Three encores of Crue and Guns go down rapturously as expected but if anything the Brides may musically be a more focused and consistent project than any drug-addled previous work. They may have settled into married life but only seem to have grown able to channel the destruction of their heyday rather than grown out it, creating a compellingly vicious, trim and massive-sounding live show without a revolving drum riser or rollercoaster in site. Absolutely essential.